TweetFollow Us on Twitter

XCMD Import Text
Volume Number:4
Issue Number:10
Column Tag:HyperChat®

XCMD Corner

By Donald Koscheka, Apple Computers, Inc.

Importing Text into Hypercard

A new controversy seems to be emerging in the Hypercard community. Some Hypercard pundits are discouraging the use of XCMDs and XFCNs in stack design.. Their most convincing argument is that those of us who jump into writing XCMDs aren’t giving ourselves an opportunity to see if HyperTalk can perform the task, perhaps equally as well as an XCMD.

I frequently consider writing an XCMD solution to a programming problem without first considering whether Hypertalk can do the same job for me. Recently, I needed to import Microsoft WORD files into Hypercard. What a wonderful opportunity to write an XCMD!

When I sat down to write the script to invoke the XCMD, I realized that I could write the entire WORD import routine in HyperTalk. Ed Wischmeyer of Apple Computer Inc. pointed out that although fields in HyperTalk prefer to see straight ASCII text, there is no such restriction on the contents of containers. Hypercard also allows you to open and read any file type you want; you aren’t restricted to reading text files. Of course, you need to figure out how to translate what’s in that container into a format that can be presented in a field.

The hard part of importing text from a Word file is not reading the data into hypercard but rather figuring how Word stores its text. By committing the import code to a simple Hypertalk script, I could concentrate my efforts at decoding Word’s file format.

To simplify my search through the file format, I made the assumption that I could ignore any formatting information such as rulers, font and style changes. I was after was the text portion of the file only. This turns out to be a valid assumption since I wanted to import the file into a Hypercard field as text.

Finding the text was a snap with John Mitchell’s “FEDIT+”. I created a Word file using WORD and then examined it in FEDIT+. I noticed that the text always started at location 256 in the file. Since the size of the file was larger than the size of the text plus this 256 byte header, I needed to determine where the end of text occurred (assuming that the formatting and ruler information follows the text in the file). Since I knew how long the text was, I again used FEDIT+ to search the 256 header portion of the file. This time I was looking for any portion of the header that contained a count of the number of bytes in the text. Since I knew that my file contained exactly 100 characters (bytes), all I had to do was find this number somewhere in the header portion of the file. I found something close to what I was looking for at offset 16 in the file. This location corresponded to the number of characters in the text portion of the file plus 256 which was the length of the header.

The creators of Microsoft Word may be reading this and wondering why I’m assuming that the text size is a 16-bit entity rather than a 32 bit number. I’m not. Since Hypercard text fields are currently limited to 32K bytes, and since I knew none of my word files were longer than this, I’m only interested in the low-order word of the text length.

Reading the text portion of a Microsoft Word file into a hypercard container requires the following steps: (1) Position the mark at byte 16 of the file. Read the byte at this position and multiply it by 256 making it the high-order half of the file length. Read the next byte and add it to the hight-order half of the length. Move 238 more bytes into the file (16+2+238 = 256). This is the start of the text portion of the file. Read the number of bytes calculated minus 256. The IT container gets the imported text.

The Hypertalk script in listing 1 performs the above steps for importing up to 16K bytes of text from a Word file. I use Steisplay WORD files only in the GetFile dialog and to get the full pathname of the file from the user. This script reads in the text without any looping so an XCMD may not speed things up enough to be warranted.

on mouseup
  put filename(“WDBN”)into filename
  if filename is not empty then
     open file filename -- filename is the full pathname of a WORD file
     read from file filename for 16 -- move file mark to the text length 
     read from file filename for 1  -- read the upper half of the length
     put chartonum( it ) * 256 into filesize -- shift up by 8 bits
     read from file filename for 1  -- get the lower half of the length
     add chartonum( it ) mod 256 to filesize
     read from file filename for 238-- move to start of text in the file
     read from file filename for filesize-256 -- read in the text
     close file filename -- IT now contains the imported data.    
  end if
end mouseup

Listing 1. Script to Import Text from a Microsoft Word File

Not all file formats can be imported quite so simply. Macwrite uses a packed text format, storing one or two characters per byte using a simple compression scheme.

Because the text is compressed, we can’t just read the file into a container and return the result to Hypercard. We must first decompress the file a byte at a time. Such a process suggests looping and loops, as we know, are not particularly fast in HyperTalk. Although the decompression can be performed in a hypertalk script, we can write an xcmd that performs the decompression faster.

The key to reading in a MacWrite file is understanding that Macwrite stores its data by paragraph. Whereas Word files are clearly divided between the text and formatting information, Macwrite stores formatting information for each paragraph at the end of the text for that paragraph. Hypercard doesn’t do formatted text; we want to ignore the formatting information at the end of each paragraph. Our algorithm then becomes a loop that reads in a paragraph at a time, decompresses the text for that paragraph ignoring the formatting information. This process is repeated for each paragraph in the file.

One small “gotcha” to this approach stems from the fact that Rulers and pictures are also considered paragraphs. When we encounter either of these objects, we just move on to the next paragraph.

Listing 2 depicts the code for this XFCN. I chose “C” because pointer arithmetic is easier to perform in “C” and because last month’s example was written in Pascal. I made every attempt to keep the “C” isomorphic to a Pascal program so that you can easily convert the code to Pascal.

Finding the paragraph information in the file requires a little arithmetic. Bytes 2-3 in the file tell us how many paragraphs the main document contains (MacWrite makes a distinction between the main document, the header document and the footer document. For our purposes, we only want to read in the main body of text) If bytes 2-3 contain a 5 then there are 5 paragraphs in the main document.

For each paragraph, MacWrite stores an information array. We start reading the information arrays at the file position pointed to in file offset $108. An information array is an array of 16-byte elements that tell us something about each paragraph. The first two bytes in the information array tell us whether the paragraph contains text, a ruler or a picture. If this value is positive the paragraph contains text, if this value is 0 or negative the paragraph is a ruler or a picture respectively and we can ignore it.

Offset 8 in the information array contains a status byte that provides some information about the text. If bit 3 is set, the text in this paragraph is compressed. Bytes 9-11 tell us the absolute file offset for the start of the data in the paragraph and bytes 12-13 contain the length of the data (paragraph addressing is 24 bits and each paragraph contains up to 64K of characters or data). The trick is to read in the number of characters indicated in the information array, determine if the paragraph contains text and, if so, decompress the text if it’s compressed.

Once we read in the paragraph, we get some more information. The first two bytes of the paragraph tell us how many characters of text will appear in the decompressed paragraph. Following the text on an even word boundary is the formatting information for the paragraph which we ignore in this example.

MacWrite’s text compression is based on a letter frequency scheme stored as STR resource #700 in MacWrite’s resource fork. For English, this string contains “ etnroaisdlhcfp”. Macwrite maps these characters onto the array [$0..$F]. The space character ($20) has a value of 0, letter “e” has a value of 1, “t” a value of 2 and so on. Since any number less than $F can fit into a nibble, the word “eels” can be represented as “$11A8” rather than the byte-wide representation of $65656C73. In this example, we realize a 50% space saving (the best case for this algorithm).

This compression scheme only works for lower-case letters since 4 bits is not enough information to code for word frequency and case for the 14 most popular letters. This scheme also doesn’t compress non-alphabetic characters such as numerals and punctuation marks. In these cases, the 16th array element, $F, is used as a flag to tell indicate that the next 2 nibbles represent one character. “Then” would be coded as $F55906. Note that the letter “T” crosses byte boundaries, the top nibble is in byte 0 and the lower nibble is in byte 1. This is of no consequence to the algorithm.

Armed with this information, you should have little trouble understanding the XFCN. In fact, I hope you find it useful and informative! (Next month: printing from XCMDs).

*file:  MWRead.c *
*  *
* an XFCN that imports text *
* directly from a MacWrite file  *
* whose full pathname is passed  *
* as an input parameter.  *
* -------------------------------- *
* To Build this file:*
*C -q2 -g MWRead.c *
*link -sn Main=MWRead    *
*-sn STDIO=MWRead *
*-sn INTENV=MWRead  *
*-rt XFCN=301   *
*-m MWREAD MWRead.c.o    *
*“{CLibraries}”CInterface.o  *
*-o “your stack name”*
* -------------------------------- *
* By: Donald Koscheka*
* Date: 2-July-1988*
* ©1988, Donald Koscheka  *
*All Rights Reserved *
* -------------------------------- *

#include  “HyperXCmd.h”

#define INFOPOS  0x00000108
#define PPOS0x00000002
#define COMP0x0008

/* -------------------------- */
/* Define the structure of an */
/* information array element*/
/* */
/* pHite is positive if this*/
/* info array points to text, */
/* ignored otherwise.*/
/* */
/* fPos is the absolute file*/
/* position of the start of */
/* the paragraph in the file*/
/* */
/* fLen is the total length of*/
/* the file including formats */
/* -------------------------- */

typedef struct infoArr {
 short  pHite;/* parag hite */
 short  pixels;/* ignore this */ 
 long pHand;/* ignore this*/
 char status;/* chk comprsn */
 char hiMark;/* msw of mark */
 short  loMark;/* lsw of mark */
 short  fLen;  /* parag. len*/
 short  fmat;  /* ignore this */ 

/* ------------------------ */

short   ReadFile();
Handle  DeCompress();

pascal void MWRead( paramPtr )
 XCmdBlockPtr  paramPtr;
* In:ParamPtr:
*pointer to XCMD param
*block. params[0] is the
*name of the macwrite file
*  to open.
* Out:ParamPtr->returnValue
*empty if data could not
*be read, text portion 
*of a   Macwrite document.
 ref,   /* file reference */
 err,   /* io error  */
 vRef,  /* vol reference  */
 pcnt,  /* #  paragraphs  */
 tSiz,  /* text length  */
 loop;  /* loop counter */
 fSiz,  /* data size */
 iSiz,  /* out data size  */
 iMark,/* iarr file pos */
 fPos;  /* para. offset */
 decomp,/* decompressed*/

ImportText = nil;

if( paramPtr->params[0] != nil ){
HLock( paramPtr->params[0] );

GetVol( vName, &vRef );
fName = *(paramPtr->params[0]);
err = FSOpen( fName, vRef, &ref );
HUnlock( paramPtr->params[0] );

if( err == noErr ){
 ImportText = NewHandle( 0 );
 /* get paragraph count   */
 fSiz = sizeof( short );
 /* get infoArray position*/
 fSiz = sizeof( long );
 /* read in the paragraphs*/
 for( loop = 0; loop < pcnt; loop++){
 fSiz = sizeof( infoArr );
 if( info.pHite > 0 ){
 /* paragraph is text*/
 /* calc text position  */
 /* get the char count  */
 fSiz = sizeof( short );
 err = ReadFile(ref,fSiz,&tSiz,fPos);
 /* read in the text */
 temp = NewHandle((long)tSiz);
 HLock( temp );
 fPos += 2; 
 fSiz = (long)tSiz;
 err = ReadFile(ref,fSiz,*temp,fPos);
 if( info.status & COMP ){
 /* paragraph is compressed */
 HLock( temp );
 decomp = DeCompress( *temp, tSiz );
 HUnlock( temp );
 DisposHandle( temp );
 temp = decomp;
 tSiz = (short)GetHandleSize( decomp ); 
 }/* if( info.status & COMP ) */
 iSiz = GetHandleSize( ImportText );
 fSiz = (long)tSiz;
 SetHandleSize( ImportText, iSiz+fSiz );
 HUnlock( temp );
 DisposHandle( temp );
 }/* if( info.pHite > 0 ) */
 iMark = iMark + sizeof( infoArr );
 }/* FOR paragraph count  */

 iSiz = GetHandleSize( ImportText );
 SetHandleSize( ImportText, iSiz+1 );
 *((*ImportText)+iSiz) = ‘\0’;
 FSClose( ref );
 FlushVol( nil, vRef );
}/* if file opened ok     */

paramPtr->returnValue = ImportText;


short   ReadFile(ioRef,siz,buf,from)
short   ioRef;
long    siz;
char    *buf;
long    from;
* read cnt bytes from the file specified by parms and put 
* the data into the buffer pointed to by buf 
* ioRef = file reference number
* siz = number of bytes to read
* buf = where to read in to
* from  = where in file to read from
* from is the file mark relative to the start of the file from
* which the read is to start.
 short  err;
 err = SetFPos( ioRef, fsFromStart, from );
 if( err == noErr )
 err = FSRead( ioRef, &siz, buf ); 
 return( err);

Handle DeCompress( inp, expcnt )
 char *inp;
 short  expcnt;
* Decompress the input handle’s data (inH) and put the result
* in the output Handle (outH).  outH is sized properly and 
* we use the following scheme:
*0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
*_ e t n r o a i s d l h c f p !
* where _ = SPACE
*! = not compressed
* Consult MacWrite resource str #700 for the decompression
* string in your file (different for other languages).
* cycle through until the decompressed string count 
* matches the expected count
 short  chcnt;
 register char *op;
 register char hiNib;
 register char loNib;
 char   dc[16];
 Handle outH;
 outH = NewHandle( (long)expcnt );

 dc[0]  = 0x020;
 dc[1]  = ‘e’;
 dc[2]  = ‘t’;
 dc[3]  = ‘n’;
 dc[4]  = ‘r’;
 dc[5]  = ‘o’;
 dc[6]  = ‘a’;
 dc[7]  = ‘i’;
 dc[8]  = ‘s’;
 dc[9]  = ‘d’;
 dc[10] = ‘l’;
 dc[11] = ‘h’;
 dc[12] = ‘c’;
 dc[13] = ‘f’;
 dc[14] = ‘p’;
 HLock( outH );
 op = *outH;
 chcnt = 0;
 while( chcnt < expcnt ){
 hiNib = loNib = *inp++;
 hiNib = hiNib >> 0x04;
 hiNib &=  0x000F;
 loNib &=  0x000F;
 if( hiNib < 0x0F ){
 *op++ = dc[hiNib];
 if( loNib < 0x0F ){
 *op++ = dc[loNib];
 else{ /* next BYTE is a char */
 *op++ = *inp++;
 /* next 2 nibbles represent*/
 /* a complete char which */
 /* is on odd-nibble bounds */
 *op  = loNib << 0x04;
 hiNib  = *inp++;
 loNib = hiNib & 0x000F;
 hiNib = hiNib >> 0x04;
 hiNib &= 0x0F;
 *op  = *op | hiNib;
 if( loNib < 0x0F )
 *op++ = dc[loNib];
 *op++ = *inp++;
 HUnlock( outH );
 return( outH );

#include <>

Listing 2. XFCN to import trxt from a MacWrite Document


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

VLC Media Player 2.2.0 - Popular multime...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more
Sound Studio 4.7.8 - Robust audio record...
Sound Studio lets you easily record and professionally edit audio on your Mac. Easily rip vinyls and digitize cassette tapes, or record lectures and voice memos. Prepare for live shows with live... Read more
LibreOffice - Free, open-source...
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
Freeway Pro 7.0.3 - Drag-and-drop Web de...
Freeway Pro lets you build websites with speed and precision... without writing a line of code! With its user-oriented drag-and-drop interface, Freeway Pro helps you piece together the website of... Read more
Cloud 3.3.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
Cyberduck 4.6.5 - 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
Firefox 36.0 - Fast, safe Web browser. (...
Firefox for Mac offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals and... Read more
Thunderbird 31.5.0 - Email client from M...
As of July 2012, Thunderbird has transitioned to a new governance model, with new features being developed by the broader free software and open source community, and security fixes and improvements... Read more
VOX 2.4 - Music player that supports man...
VoxIt just sounds better! The beauty is in its simplicity, yet behind the minimal exterior lies a powerful music player with a ton of features & support for all audio formats you should ever need... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.46 - File, phot...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more

Get The Whole Story – Lone Wolf Complete...
Get The Whole Story – Lone Wolf Complete is Now Available and On Sale Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Check Out the Trailer for the Upcoming F...
Check Out the Trailer for the Upcoming FINAL FANTASY: Record Keeper Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 26th, 2015 [ permalink ] DeNA and Square Enix have announced that | Read more »
Legacy Quest is an Upcoming Rouge-like T...
Legacy Quest is an Upcoming Rouge-like That’ll Kill the Whole Family Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 26th, 2015 [ permalink ] Nexon Co. | Read more »
Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere Review
Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere Review By Jordan Minor on February 26th, 2015 Our Rating: :: MUSCLE MENUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Regular Show gets an above average game.   | Read more »
Action RPG League of Angels – Fire Raide...
Gaia is being invaded by the Devil Prince and the demonic Devil Army at his disposal, and it’s up to you and your avatar to defeat him in League of Angels – Fire Raiders. Raise a mighty army from hundreds of recruitable angel heroes and take the... | Read more »
Burn Rubber on the Ice With a New Cars:...
Burn Rubber on the Ice With a New Cars: Fast as Lightning Update Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 26th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
AdVenture Capitalist Review
AdVenture Capitalist Review By Jordan Minor on February 26th, 2015 Our Rating: :: DAS KAPITALUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad An inadvertent Marxist manifesto.   | Read more »
Monster vs Sheep Review
Monster vs Sheep Review By Jennifer Allen on February 25th, 2015 Our Rating: :: SAMEY FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad What Monster vs Sheep lacks in variety it makes up for with stress relieving fun. At least, for a... | Read more »
Is Your Face Ready for the New Outwitter...
Is Your Face Ready for the New Outwitters 2.0 Trailer? Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 25th, 2015 [ permalink ] One Man Left Studios has announced that their turn-based strategy game, | Read more »
HowToFormat Review
HowToFormat Review By Jennifer Allen on February 25th, 2015 Our Rating: :: USEFUL TIPSiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Making a presentation and want to get it just right? HowToFormat teaches you how... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis for up t...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 Mac minis, with models available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz... Read more
Save up to $50 on iPad Air 2s, NY tax only, f...
 B&H Photo has iPad Air 2s on sale for $50 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi: $469.99 $30 off - 64GB iPad Air 2 WiFi: $549 $50 off - 128GB iPad Air 2... Read more
16GB iPad Air 2 on sale for $447, save $52
Walmart has the 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi on sale for $446.99 on their online store for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only,... Read more
iMacs on sale for up to $205 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ iMacs on sale for up to $205 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 1.4GHz iMac: $1029 $70 off - 21″ 2.7GHz iMac: $1199 $100 off - 21″ 2.9GHz... Read more
Apple Takes 89 Percent Share of Global Smartp...
According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone operating profit reached US$21 billion in Q4 2014. The Android operating system captured a record-low 11 percent global... Read more
New Travel Health App “My Travel Health” iOS...
Rochester, Minnesota based Travel Health and Wellness LLC has announced that its new iOS app help safeguard the user’s health when traveling abroad — “My Travel Health” is now available on the Apple... Read more
Sale! MacBook Airs for up to $115 off MSRP
B&H Photo has MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 128GB MacBook Air: $799 100 off MSRP - 11″ 256GB MacBook Air: $999 $100... 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
Wither The iPad mini? End Of The Road Imminen...
AppleDailyReport’s Dennis Sellers predicts that the iPad mini is going to be left to wither on the vine, as it were, and then just allowed to fade away — a casualty of the IPhone 6 Plus and other... Read more
Android and iOS Duopoly Owns 96.3% of Smartph...
IDC reports that Android and iOS inched closer to total domination of the worldwide smartphone market in both the fourth quarter (4Q14) and the calendar year 2014 (CY14). According to data from the... Read more

Jobs Board

Sr. Technical Services Consultant, *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple Professional Services (APS) has an opening for a senior technical position that contributes to Apple 's efforts for strategic and transactional 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
*Apple* Pay - Site Reliability Engineer - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring 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
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.