Common Desktop Environment
Copyright © 1998 The Open Group

Product Standard
User Interface: Common Desktop Environment
Document Number: X98XD

©January 1998, The Open Group All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owners.

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Product Standard


Common Desktop Environment




This Product Standard defines the X/Open Common Desktop Environment, a common graphical user interface environment for use on systems supporting the X Window System. It defines a standard set of functional capabilities and supporting infrastructure, and the associated standard application programming interfaces, command line actions, data interchange formats, and protocols, that must be supported by a conformant system. It provides standard forms of the facilities normally found in a graphical user interface environment, including windowing and window management, session management, file management, electronic mail, text editing, calendar and appointments management, calculator, application building and integration services, print job services, and a help service.

Human-Computer Interface

A single configuration of the system shall meet all of the conformance requirements defined in the following Product Standards.

Section 5.2, Functions of the XCDE Services and Applications Specification,1 conformance to which is also a requirement of this Product Standard, defines as mandatory several functions that are optional in the Calendaring and Scheduling Product Standard.

The product must be registered as conformant to those Product Standards prior to, or concurrent with, the Common Desktop Environment Product Standard registration.

Portability Interface

The same single configuration of the system must also meet all the Common Desktop Environment-specific conformance and integration requirements identified in the XCDE Definitions and Infrastructure Specification2 and the XCDE Services and Applications Specification, except that support for the Application Building Services (ABS) defined in Chapter 14, Application Building Services of the latter is optional. It must support all the definitions (except those of ABS) contained within these two specifications including:

Conformance must be established in association with at least one identified external X-Server.

A product registered as conformant to this Product Standard can optionally declare in its Conformance Statement that it is also conformant to one (or more) of the following Product Standards (provided it is separately registered as such):

and an explicit question is included in the CDE Conformance Statement Questionnaire to facilitate this.

Programming Language Environment

C Language.

The dialect is ISO C and ISO C source programs invoking the services of this Product Standard must be supported by the registered product.


Although the two XCDE-specific CAE Specifications identified above do not specify all aspects of interoperability between CDE systems, it is highly desirable that different CDE systems do, in fact, interoperate. It is therefore a requirement that the basis of a particular system's interoperability is identified in its CDE Conformance Statement. This can be done in one of the following ways:

  1. By stating that the implementation of the protocol is based on a CDE 1.0 product licensed from Hewlett-Packard Company, International Business Machines Corporation, Sun Microsystems Inc., Novell Inc., the Open Software Foundation, or one of their sublicensees

  2. By describing what interoperability testing has been performed with CDE systems from other vendors

Except where it would imply the use of language features that require both X/Open Common Usage C and ISO C semantics, a single source program written in X/Open Common Usage C or in ISO C shall be able to use all the services provided by the Portability Interfaces of all the required Product Standards and by the application interfaces defined in the XCDE-specific CAE Specifications.


The CDE defined in this Product Standard can exist on any system that supports the X Window System at the level defined in X Window System Application Interface V2.


Refer to the Product Standards listed in Conformance Requirements.


Refer to the Product Standards listed in Conformance Requirements.


Refer to the Product Standards listed in Conformance Requirements.

The Indicators of Compliance for the Common Desktop Environment-specific conformance requirements defined in the two CAE Specifications are, at the time of writing, none. Reference should be made to Test Suites and Test Laboratories to determine the latest situation.

Conformance testing must be performed in conjunction with at least one identified external X-Server (even if a formal Indicator of Compliance has not yet been identified).


Not applicable.

Any comments relating to the material contained in this document may be submitted to The Open Group at:

The Open Group
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Forbury Road
Berkshire, RG1 1AX
United Kingdom
or by electronic mail to:


CAE Specification, April 1995, X/Open Common Desktop Environment (XCDE) Services and Applications (ISBN: 1-85912-074-1, C323).

CAE Specification, April 1995, X/Open Common Desktop Environment (XCDE) Definitions and Infrastructure (ISBN: 1-85912-070-9, C324).