TweetFollow Us on Twitter

AppMaker v1.2

AppMaker v1.2

Matt Stibbe

The development process known as stepwise refinement-which most developers seem to employ, either formally or informally-assumes that development will use repeated "try, test, improve" steps. Applied to the implementation of a user interface, this has given rise to the idea of prototyping. If the user interface is thought of as the shell around a program's actual function, prototyping is the process of building that shell, before the center even exists.

Of course, in a typical Macintosh application, the distinction between form and substance is blurred. On the one hand, the user interface thought police at Apple constrain our interfaces so they conform to a laid-down standard, and on the other hand, the Mac-a winged horse for a programmer-allows any number of innovations and graphical tricks.

Implementing a user interface that conforms to standards, but has room for innovation, is complicated in some respects by the otherwise helpful requirements of MacApp programming. Anyone who has wrestled with the Rez/Derez/ViewEdit combination to change the size of one button will know what I mean.

AppMaker, from Bowers Development, is an attempt to resolve these problems. It is billed as a program for creating Macintosh applications. In reality, it is a tool for prototyping them.

AppMaker allows you to design, test, and refine a user interface consisting of menus, dialogs, windows, and controls. When the design is complete, it can generate source code for the application in one of a number of programming languages. It also supports MacApp; a special, modified version of the program (that comes with the standard version) is designed for prototyping MacApp code.

In this review, I'll confine myself to evaluating AppMaker's performance with MacApp. Apart from the MacApp-specific features listed in the Using AppMaker with MacApp section below, AppMaker works in the same way for MacApp, the Think Class Library, or conventional, procedural C or Pascal.

Operation

AppMaker has editors for windows, dialogs, alerts and menus. As far as the user is concerned, alerts, dialogs and windows are treated the same way. Under MacApp, the main difference is the root level view type. There are browsers for each type, and when a new project is opened, all the standard windows and menus are present.

For example, a MacApp application has a clipboard window already defined. As with ResEdit or ViewEdit, it requires a menu command to create a new window of any kind. The new window appears on the screen, and can be resized.

Where appropriate, the user can select the type of window; for example, a modeless dialog, or a document window with a go-away box and zoom box. Once a window is on the screen, a menu of control items appears, including static and editable text, radio buttons and check boxes, scrollers, and so on. These correspond to MacApp view descendants (such as TPopup). As with ViewEdit, it is possible to define the characteristics of these objects-for example, changing the id (AppMaker generates a new one for each) or the class of the object, to make a custom descendant of a standard object.

You can group items together, with the conventional bounding box and tag. This is more than decorative: objects grouped this way can be moved about together, by dragging the box which surrounds them; radio buttons confine the mutual exclusivity to their siblings in a given box.

Scrollers are another useful feature. The scrollable area can be resized, and either horizontal or vertical scroll bars deleted or retained. It is possible to create custom controls, such as sliding volume controls or multi-state buttons. Several examples of this are provided with AppMaker. It is simply a matter of importing PICT resources that correspond to the various stages or elements of the controls.

All items, from window contents to a whole menu, can be copied and pasted easily. Being able to open multiple project documents at once allows standard user interface features to be easily copied between projects.

Menus are created using a facsimile of the menu bar in a special window. You can also use the menus you define as pop-up menus in windows or as sub-menus. You can define custom graphic menus such as those used in MacPaint, though they do not tear off. Editing a menu is very simple. Each menu item, command-key equivalent, and MacApp command number is an editable text field, and can be changed simply by retyping the contents.

A number of standard menus that are defined at run time, such as the Apple menu and fonts, are available as are the usual File and Edit menus.

Using AppMaker with MacApp

The main attraction of AppMaker is that it is very quick to produce a standalone program that looks-and in part behaves-like the real thing. Because it comes with a wide variety of language and class library support built in, it is useful to those who are fluent in different languages. Most MacApp programmers know C++ and Object Pascal; many use MPW for large projects, and Think products for smaller, more urgent work. This also means that the investment in AppMaker is not wasted if you change or upgrade your programming environment.

It is possible to reconfigure the code generated by AppMaker using resource templates. This allows the core code that AppMaker uses to be changed and upgraded, for example, to match a much-altered MacApp library that has been developed by a large software house. This flexibility is shown in the number of systems that AppMaker supports. It has some major advantages over ViewEdit in terms of ease of use and flexibility, although in practice both would be used, each for different purposes.

AppMaker's interface to MacApp's way of doing things has been well thought out; for example, in constructing view hierarchies and scrollers, or the way that it includes the menu command IDs and then provides a slightly amended MABuild script so there is no need to PostRez the menu definitions. The ability to group items logically together not only helps improve the appearance of the interface, but also makes it work much better.

All in all, it is a well-put-together application that does everything a user might reasonably ask of it.

Weaknesses

That is not to say AppMaker is without faults. It lacks ViewEdit's fine control over the appearance of individual dialog items-for instance, their color, font and style; and it does not provide such explicit control over the arrangement of views and subviews.

In normal circumstances, this does not affect its prototyping capabilities at all, and during full scale development the two programs would be used in tandem. Its main rival, Prototyper, has a "Quicklook" feature which allows the interface to be tested without quitting the program. Given that it may take several minutes to generate the source code and several more to compile it, even on a small project, the ability to test the user interface immediately and interactively within the program is one feature that is sorely lacking in AppMaker.

Prototyper also offers some useful facilities for linking buttons, menus and windows together. For example, a button can be programmed to enable or disable others, another may open a dialog box and so on. In AppMaker, this logic has to be provided by the user's own source code. For creating real applications, Prototyper's link facilities are not very useful as they only provide a limited set of operations, but for prototyping-the creation of testable interface without any code being written-they are very helpful.

Generated Code

The code AppMaker produces seems robust and well structured. It follows Apple's naming conventions, segmentation rules, and takes its guide from Apple's sample programs. Comments are terse, so the student should not expect a running commentary. It separates code and resources-in MacApp, this means it generates a .r file-and this saves having to DeRez resource files, as one has to do with a file created by ViewEdit.

It offers little control over the style of the source code it generates. You can change the style of code by editing the source code templates, but it would have been better to provide routines to set indents and so forth (Prototyper does this). It makes use of a library of core routines which provide common functions. Although the source code for this library is provided, it requires extra learning if the code is to be used in a long term development rather than as a quick prototype.

Documentation

The manual is thorough and concise. It was crammed with version notes, addenda and notes for using the program with MacApp. This information is important and loose notes are better than nothing; however, it gives a sloppy impression. As the manual is comb bound and obviously typeset using regular DTP and laser printer output, it left me wondering why Bowers Development couldn't include these notes directly in the manual.

However, this is a minor niggle. Anyone who has used ResEdit, ViewEdit, another prototyper, or even HyperCard, will find this program easy to use with little help from the manual. It has a thorough tutorial section that walks through a sample AppMaker project, a simple application with a few menus, windows and so on. It also contains a detailed description of the AppMaker library that must be included with any application using AppMaker to generate some of its code.

Conclusions

The actual operation of the program is fast, but its code generation seemed very slow. In some ways, it forces a style on the user, and it still requires some work in order to generate a truly original and graphical interface. There were no noticeable bugs or unwarranted features.

Prototyping and user interface testing are two good things; they help the developer and the end-user, respectively. AppMaker is not going to create finished applications for you. And there is no way that someone is going to learn how to develop good efficient MacApp code simply by using it, and "filling in the blanks." This is like saying that painting by numbers will make you a great master.

Instead, AppMaker is perfect for building bits of user interfaces that work and thus can be tested, experimenting with new ways of presenting a program, or building an experimental skeleton for a new program. As a bonus, it provides a quicker way of cobbling together MacApp view resources, and a way of knocking up "quick and dirty" programs that need a graphical interface, but little application-specific code.

So who should buy it? This program is for anyone who regularly has to design user interfaces for MacApp-based applications, or who has to prototype a large MacApp program rapidly. For these people, it will be a godsend.

Version tested

I tested version 1.2 on a Mac IIcx under System 7, with MPW 3.2, MacApp 2, and C++. According to the Bowers, there is a new version (1.5) due soon that will support MacApp 3, System 7 source code generation and the new Think Class Library. Apparently, those who buy the current version from August 1991 onwards will be upgraded free of charge when the new version is released. Bowers claims compatibility with Mac Plus, SE, SE/30 or II series computers using System 5 or later.

Market data

AppMaker is published by Bowers Development. List price is $295. Bowers Development can be reached at (508) 369-8175 or AppleLink D1721. No license fees are required for applications using code generated by AppMaker.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Apple Remote Desktop 3.8 - Remotely cont...
Apple Remote Desktop is the best way to manage the Mac computers on your network. Distribute software, provide real-time online help to end users, create detailed software and hardware reports, and... Read more
NeoOffice 2014.7 - Mac-tailored, OpenOff...
NeoOffice is a complete office suite for OS X. With NeoOffice, users can view, edit, and save OpenOffice documents, PDF files, and most Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. NeoOffice 3.x... Read more
DesktopLyrics 2.6.6 - Displays current i...
DesktopLyrics is an application that displays the lyrics of the song currently playing in "iTunes" right on your desktop. The lyrics for the song have to be set in iTunes; DesktopLyrics does nothing... Read more
Ember 1.8.3 - Versatile digital scrapboo...
Ember (formerly LittleSnapper) is your digital scrapbook of things that inspire you: websites, photos, apps or other things. Just drag in images that you want to keep, organize them into relevant... Read more
Apple iTunes 12.1 - Manage your music, m...
Apple iTunes lets you organize and play digital music and video on your computer. It can automatically download new music, app, and book purchases across all your devices and computers. And it's a... Read more
LibreOffice 4.4.3 - Free, open-source of...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
FoldersSynchronizer 4.2.1 - Synchronize...
FoldersSynchronizer is a popular and useful utility that synchronizes and backs-up files, folders, disks and boot disks. On each session you can apply special options like Timers, Multiple Folders,... Read more
Simon 4.0.2 - Monitor changes and crashe...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
Cocktail 8.1.2 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Cyberduck 4.6.4 - FTP and SFTP browser....
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more

Playworld Superheroes Review
Playworld Superheroes Review By Tre Lawrence on January 30th, 2015 Our Rating: :: HERO CRAFTINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad It’s all about the imagination, fighting bad creatures — and looking good while doing so.   | Read more »
Join the SpongeBob Bubble Party in this...
Join the SpongeBob Bubble Party in this New Match 3 Bubble Poppin’ Frenzy Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 30th, 2015 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Handpick Review
Handpick Review By Jennifer Allen on January 30th, 2015 Our Rating: :: TANTALIZING SUGGESTIONSiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Handpick will make you hungry, as well as inspire you to cook something... | Read more »
Storm the Halls of Echo Base in First St...
Storm the Halls of Echo Base in First Star Wars: Galactic Defense Event Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 30th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Contradiction Review
Contradiction Review By Tre Lawrence on January 30th, 2015 Our Rating: :: SPOT THE LIEiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Contradiction is a live action point and click adventure that’s pretty engaging.   Developer: Tim Follin... | Read more »
Unlock Sunshine Girl in Ironkill with th...
Unlock Sunshine Girl in Ironkill with this special 148Apps code Posted by Rob Rich on January 29th, 2015 [ permalink ] Robo-fighter Ironkill has been out on iOS a | Read more »
Crossroad Zombies Review
Crossroad Zombies Review By Jordan Minor on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: :: CROSSWALKING DEADiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Crossroad Zombies is a rough draft of a cool genre mash-up.   | Read more »
Blood Brothers 2 – Tips, Cheats, and Str...
War is hell: Is it the kind of hell you want to check out? Read our Blood Brothers 2 review to find out! Blood Brothers 2, DeNA’s follow-up to the original Blood Brothers, is an intriguing card collecting / role-playing / strategy hybrid. There’s... | Read more »
Blood Brothers 2 Review
Blood Brothers 2 Review By Nadia Oxford on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: :: AN AGGRAVATING RELATIVEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Blood Brothers 2 is built on a simple, solid foundation, but its free-to-play system... | Read more »
I AM BREAD, the Toast of the Town, is Ro...
Have you ever dreamt of being deliciously gluten-y? Do you feel passionate about Rye and Wheat? The guys at Bossa Studios do and that is why they are bringing I AM BREAD to iOS soon. The loafy app will feature all the new content that is being... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Intel Aims to Transform Workplace With 5th-Ge...
Intel Corporation today announced the availability of its 5th generation Intel Core vPro processor family that provides cutting-edge features to enable a new and rapidly shifting workplace. To meet... Read more
iOS App Sharalike Introduces New Instant Smar...
Sharalike slideshow and photo management software for iOS, is making it easier than ever to create shareable meaningful moments with its new instant SmartShow technology. Staying organized is a goal... Read more
Apple Becomes World’s Largest Smartphone Vend...
According to the latest research data from Strategy Analytics, as global smartphone shipments grew 31 percent annually to reach a record 380 million units in the fourth quarter of 2014. Apple became... Read more
Cut the Cord: OtterBox Resurgence Power Case...
Dead batteries and broken phones are two of the biggest issues for smartphone users today. Otterbox addresses both with the new Resurgence Power Case for Apple iPhone 6, promising to make those panic... Read more
13-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.6GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1199.99 save $100 - 13″ 2.6GHz/... Read more
15-inch 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
 B&H Photo has the 15″ 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $2319.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $180 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more
Back in stock: Refurbished iPod nanos for $99...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 16GB iPod nanos available for $99 including free shipping and Apple’s standard one-year warranty. That’s $50 off the cost of new nanos. Most colors are... Read more
Apple lowers price on refurbished 256GB MacBo...
The Apple Store has lowered prices on Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs with 256GB SSDs, now available for up to $200 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included... Read more
New Good Management Suite Simplifies Enterpri...
Good Technology has announced the availability of the Good Management Suite, a comprehensive cross-platform solution for organizations getting started with mobile business initiatives. Built on the... Read more
15-inch 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro (refurbishe...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros available for $1489 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is... Read more

Jobs Board

At-Home Chat Specialist- *Apple* Online Stor...
**Job Summary** At Apple , we believe in hard work, a fun environment, and the kind of creativity and innovation that only comes about when talented people from diverse Read more
Sr. Mac Expert- *Apple* Online Store - Apple...
**Job Summary** The World Wide Apple Online Store (AOS) Sales and Service team is looking for motivated, outgoing, and tech savvy individuals who want to offer Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant- Retail Sales (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Event Director, *Apple* Retail Marketing -...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global engagement strategy and team. Delivering an overarching brand Read more
At-Home Chat Specialist- *Apple* Online Stor...
**Job Summary** At Apple , we believe in hard work, a fun environment, and the kind of creativity and innovation that only comes about when talented people from diverse Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.