MKS Toolkit Eases Cross-Platform Development

When it needed a tool to develop applications for both Windows and Unix platforms in the early 1990s, ELSNET, the European network in human language technologies, discovered MKS Toolkit and has never looked back, according to Steven Krauwer, project manager. Now in Version 9.0, MKS Toolkit integrates its vi and viw editor into VisualStudio.NET and includes syntax highlighting capabilities.

ELSNET began using MKS Toolkit when its MS-DOS PCs became the standard at the university where it is based and its Unix workstations were phased out. “This allowed us to have a lot of Unix-like functionality on our PCs, to maintain connectivity with our Unix systems and to at the same time benefit from compatibility with colleagues within our university and outside,” Krauwer explains.

Prior to implementing MKS Toolkit, ELSNET relied on Kermit to connect from its PCs to its Unix machines. “We did most of our work on the Unix systems through a Kermit terminal window,” Krauwer says.

“As our network includes member organizations using many different platforms, it is essential for us to be able to use cross-platform tools to keep our information flows going, irrespective of the platform used,” Krauwer adds.

The enhancements in the vi and viw editor are what ELSNET finds the most attractive in the latest release, according to Krauwer. “One of our main activities involves running a large international network of private and academic institutions in the field of language and speech technology,” he acknowledges. “As we are based in Europe, we can no longer afford to pretend that 7 bits are all that are needed to express yourself properly in all languages of the European Union,” which currently includes 20 languages and is continuously increasing.

“The editor,” Krauwer continues, “is probably the tool that one uses most. The more flexible and customizable it is, the better it is, both in terms of quality and of productivity.”

MKS Toolkit 9.0 also features multibyte character support, secure visual file manipulation, updated Perl, new utilities and enhanced APIs. The new release introduces utilities to set up standard scripts or programs to run as Windows services, the ability to display and manage power schemes and the ability to launch any file as if it were an executable.

“Without the toolkit we would never have been able to maintain a large, distributed Web site for our network, involving a mix of Unix and PC-based servers,” Krauwer sums.

Pricing starts at $359.

About the Author

Lana Gates is a freelance writer based in Mesa, Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].