Jan 86 Letters
Ft. Collins, Co.
Please continue my subscription to your fine magazine. I would like to make one suggestion. Not everyone who programs in 'C' on a Macintosh is a professional developer with years of experience. I am a computer science student who would like very much to program his Mac in 'C', but Bob Denny started to go over my head a long time ago. Mind you, I am not requesting fluff! Just something more at the non-expert level. Thank you and keep up the good work.
[Look for a Beginner's C column soon. I want to learn also! -Ed.]
X/Lisa Users Group
Van R. Martin
Thank you for your letter of 28 October in regard to the X/Lisa User's Group. I appreciate your taking the time out to write and give me the benefit of some of your ideas in regard to the Lisa and the new Mac. Even though you don't have much encouragement for the XL/Lisa, I still would like to invite you and your readers to join and call our CSbbs. If you ever have the desire, please call up our buttetin board and say hello.
[Thanks. I will. Readers may contact this group at P.O. Box 450676, Miami, FL. 33145-0676, or call (305) 665-4135. -Ed]
A "do something" shell?
I had another very pleasant conversation with your wife (whoops, an assumption on my part since the name's the same, hope no offense taken). Anyway, to the point of this letter, I would like to start by saying once again how pleased I have been with all the articles and disk info from MacTutor.
I am not a programmer nor do I ever intend to be, I simply enjoy working with the computer and seeing the results of my efforts on the screen. It does seem as though most of the "professionals" in the programming field are quite secretive. Six months ago I could not even spell Mac, now I can not only turn mine on, but have been known to modify existing programs with a lot of help from special people like MacTutor, to accomplish certain tasks. Please do not take the above statement to mean I know what I am doing, as my questions will indicate, I am a complete novice. But I am learning and having a blast doing so.
It seems most of the example programs do not really accomplish anything. Is it possible to display a number, ask a question, recieve an input from the keyboard and either +, -, *, / and displace the result on the screen, without using the "shift command 4", using MacAsm, such as you do in the icon converter program in Basic? Most of the assembly examples I worked with so far from your disk and articles do not seem to be able to use MacAsm. Are you using another compiler? I only have MacAsm. I have been told the Apple MDS system is not worth the money and next to impossible to use compared to MacAsm. Is this true? Once again, thank you for what is a very refreshing breath of solid, usable knowledge, willingly shared for the benefit of all. With this type of approach I am sure you will be very successful.
[Thank you for your kind remarks. Yes, Laura is my wife, and no offense taken. See our assembly version of the icon converter program from our good friend Chris Yerga as an example of a "do something" program. On the contrary, I like the MDS system and think it is a fine assembler. I particlulary like the standardization that is being achieved between MDS assembly, Consulair C and TML Pascal in that all three use the same compatible editor, the same linker and can recognize each other's ".REL" files. The new Microsoft Fortran is also somewhat compatible except the run time library is not linkable by MDS or the Consulair Linker. We want to encourage tool makers to support a standard so that libraries of object code files can be linked to whatever language you like best. At this point, the MDS ".REL" file has become a defacto standard and we encourage more support of that system. A new development system due from Apple in the spring will confuse this issue even more because the word is Apple will not be supporting the MDS ".REL" file standard with that system. We encourage your opinions on this issue.-Ed.]
Computers on TV
Dr. Terrence Lukas
We are producing a weekly cable tv program entitled Computers & You. We feature different hardware and software on this program and for this reason we are contacting you to see if your company would be interested in sending us hardware, software and/or other materials to be demonstrated on this program. We are particulary interested in receiving the publication MacTutor as well as any other products that may be of interest to our audiance. [Several copies of all of our back issues are in transit to you and good luck with your show. Be sure to point out how friendly the Mac is! -Ed.]
The MacUser Ad Got Me!
Your magazine comes with the highest praise from a friend in the Mac SIG of the Apple-Dayton User's Group. It looks like a classic. I wish you continued success. Your ads do help...I saw yours in MacUser Magazine, where I got the address. It might be nice to include your phone number, however. It took two shots at the telephone information service to get the correct one. [Will do. A revised ad is on it's way to MacUser and thank you Apple-Dayton! -Ed.]
Need the Big Picture
I enjoy MacTutor and find it invaluable in trying to unravel the mysteries of the Macintosh. I would personally like to see more coverage of NEON. Also, articles that look at the "big picture" are very helpful. Don't be led from the path of having perspective and nuts and bolts by those who lack the former. [I like shell type programs also. We hope to have more "big picture" type programs that show printing, editing and window updating in coming issues. -Ed.]
A Lisp Fan
Your Journal is what I have been waiting for ever since I discovered that under the outrageously slow 'user-friendly' interface of the Mac, I had a really fast computer for which some very exciting software existed, much of it in the public domain, so I could 'afford' it. MInd you, I try to keep my nose clean- I just sent a check for $40 to FreeSoft for an updated Red Ryder. Actually, I do own legit copies of the now no longer supported SofTech development system Pascal and MacAdvantage as well as MacAsm and MacForth. I am then in a position to explore many of your explorations of different languages.
My particular interest now is in LISP and improvements thereon. I am getting an update of the XLISP from David Betz, version 1.5, which I will have to run on another Mac since mine is only 128K. So I am pleased you have regular Lisp coverage.
[ Well, after spending, what $500? on MacAdvantage with no support, you should try TML Pascal at $99 with lots of support! And a full compiler at that! Hold off on memory upgrades until Apple shows us what they are going to do in January. Rumor has it that Apple will announce a "Mac Plus" that has a revised logic board, new 128K ROMs, daughter board memory expansion to 4 meg, and a new serial "scuzy" interface that requires a new tooled case back. -Ed.]
Interview with Dan Cochran
Mark D. Estes
Austin Area Certified Developer's Assoc.
First some flowers for consistently providing the most sueful published information about Macintosh software development. I particulary like the format which presents substantive subject matter in a variety of language environments. I must also thak Jörg Langowski for his excellent FORTH contributions. Here are some notes from our monthly developer's meeting in Austin with Dan Cochran:
"A fully functional alpha version of the new Macintosh Programmer's Workshop (referred to as MPW) should be ready by December 15th with beta version coming 60 to 90 days later. MPW will completely replace the Lisa Programmer's Workshop and will include the following all new stuff:
Editor: multi-window shell editor with a script mechanism for building custom front-end dialogs and a search/replace function that is said to be a mind-blower.
MC68000 Assembler: completely rewritten for the 512K Mac to overcome many compromises in the MDS implementation which resulted from a design commitment to run on a 128K Mac. MPW will most likely assume a hard disk as well.
Linker and Debugger: New formats. [Not MDS compatible on the object code file level? -Ed.]
Resource Editor: new resource definition language with a conversion utility to recompile old resource files.
MPW Pascal & MPW C: The new C compiler is Greenhill's C and ranked by Dan as being in the top 5% of C compilers. The Pascal, C and assembler will all be object and link file compatible with each other. [And nothing else?? -Ed.]
A Programmer's Club and new edition of Outside Apple are slated in January to help provide better coordination with developers. The Addison-Wesley version of Inside Macintosh is finally scheduled for distribution in January.
Basic Smoke Provides Sort Routines
I read your question and Steve Brecher's response in the September 1985 MacTutor with more than mild interest. I, too, was frustrated with the speed of MS-Basic when I started programming my Mac. Instead of writing more Basic versions for sorting, I wrote some utility subroutines in M68000 assembly language that are compatible with Basic version 2.0 and are extremely fast. I am marketing the results under the name of Basic.Smoke (the allusion being to the speed of execution after adding the utilities instead of what may be clearing after a system crash!) [Those wanting to get hold of these bubble and shell sort routines may do so by contacting Jim at 139 Alpine Dr., Closter, NJ 07624. A string tag shell sort will sort 1,000 strings and their tags in 4 seconds. A similar sort in Basic would take over 2 hours! Each sort routine is only $4. -Ed.]
Custom Controls without Assembly
On a recent programming project, I found it necessary to implement custom controls and have since wondered if it would be a suitable topic for an article in MacTutor. Using Megamax C's pascal parameter passing, I was able to create the controls without any assembly. If you are interested, I would appreciate one of your author's kits. I have enjoyed the quality and content of MacTutor since its first issue and look forward to contributing if possible. [An author's kit has been sent to you. We encourage both individual programmer's and companies doing Mac devel-opment to take advantage of some publicity and exposure by contributing technical articles to MacTutor. We hope other companies will follow Mike Schuster and Consulair's example by sharing their technology expertise with the rest of us. -Ed.]