Oct 88 Letters
Prototyper, Face-It, and QuicKeys
By David E. Smith, Editor & Publisher
Berlin, West Germany
I am a 17-year-old Macintosh admirer from Berlin, West Germany. Every day, I spend a lot of time with my Mac SE and your fabulous magazine. I have been working with Pascal for 1/2 year now. This year I started with assembly. At this time, I come to you with two questions.
(1) The Video Whiz reported in the Mousehole Report on how to use a UniDisk 3.5" for an Apple II on the Mac. Where can I get detailed information on how to hook it up (I dont have an external drive)?
(2) I have been writing a program called Icons. It loads up the desktop file, investigates with string manipulations the bundle resources to find the ICN# IDs of the applications and of the files belonging to them. It scans the BNDL IDs using a loop:
for index := 1 to CountResources(BNDL) do
theHandle := GetIndResource(BNDL, index);
if theHandle <> NIL then
This is complicated and does not allow the direct access to the IDs. Is there a way to get (a) the BNDL IDs directly without any scanning, and (b) the ICN# IDs without any string manipulation?
At this time, I want to thank you for many happy hours that I spent with my Mac & MacTutor. No one else brings so many aristocratic articles in one convenient package as MacTutor does.
David V. Moffat
I have to face the music: I wrote the Prototyper review that Dan Kampmeier complained about in this column (Letters, MacTutor, July, 1988.)
Lets face it: a non-technical magazine like MacWEEK needs a non-technical review, one that explores only the surface of a complex product.
Hype? Is describing the many powerful and easy to use facets of a program hype? That attitude flies in the face of what we like about the Macintosh. Mr. Kampmeier is being facetious.
Prototyper is a ground-breaking product, unlike any other. If Mr. Kampmeiers product is similar, but better, he must face the fact that it is his responsibility to get that fact across in his advertising. On the face of it, his product seems to be just like several other pre-written program shells and libraries.
In my defense - not just to save face - I must explain the circumstances behind that review. The review (and title) printed were not what I submitted to MacWEEK; the editor was faced with the problem of making a 1,400-word, 6-picture review into a 1,000-word, 1-picture review. He did a pretty good job.
In addition, Mr. Kampmeiers product had not yet shown its face when I wrote the review.
I also offered to do a technical review of Prototyper for MacTutor, but I had no response (sorry, deadlines and space considerations are at a premium right now - ed).
In any case, if anyone took my review at face value and bought Prototyper, he got his moneys worth. I do not feel that I lost face by publishing it.
Another point: If Dan Kampmeier wanted to say something to my face, he should have called me, not MacWEEK. As stated in the review, I am in the Department of Computer Science at NCSU.
I agree that we need some face-to-face comparisons of rapid-prototyping and quick-development tools. If Dan would like to send me a copy of his interface product (FaceIt), I will consider writing a review of it.
But I do not guarantee a happy Kampmeier.
[I also feel we need a good comparisons of the current tools out there for this type of development need. CASE, computer aided software engineering, is a blessing as the learning curve goes up on new systems.-ed]
Programmers Extender Troubles
Id like to know if anyone else has a track record similar to mine where Invention Software is concerned. Ive been trying to use their Programmers Extender volumes 1 and 2 for quite a while now but I cant get IS (Invention Software) to fix their bugs.
When I first bought volume 1, I encountered a couple of problems with scroll bars not being redrawn properly under some circumstances. At first they denied the problem saying no one else had reported it. But they promised to send me the latest version anyway. It took a while but they did provide a slightly newer version. It fixed some of the problems but left others.
Im not quite sure why but I bought volume 2 later and had another incremental upgrade of volume 1 (because volume 2 wouldnt work with the version I had.) All the while, getting a response from IS was difficult. Most recently, it took two letters before I got a phone call promising to send fixed versions. Its been several months now since the call and still nothing.
The versions of Extender that I have are volume 1 = 3.05c, and volume 2 = 3.05b. This is the Lightspeed Pascal version. For anyone that also has these versions, try this. It wont take long. You can see the bugs that have been bugging me in their own demo applications supplied on their Extender disks. On volume 1, start up the PicoEdit program, load a text file. Now use the grow box to make the window smaller; about half its original width. So far, so good. The text re- wraps as you might expect. Now click the zoom box to restore the original size. Whoops! The DestRect doesnt appear to have been enlarged with the window. Think thats bad? Click the zoom box again to shrink the window. The ViewRect is shrunk cutting off a bunch of your text.
On volume 2 they supply a demo called MaxiEdit. Try the same things with it. Same results. Play with different combinations of Grow/Zoom boxes, and you can make your machine freeze with the ol MaxiEdit. Other problems:
I tried making a window (using Extender) with no grow box and the bottom arrow on the vertical scroll bar acted like a grow box. There was no grow box, but the window was still resizable!
One of my programs has both vertical and horizontal scroll bars in all the windows. The horizontal scroll bars have never become active even though the window was quite narrow and the TE Record was set to wrap only at carriage returns -- that is until a few days ago when one window (out of 3 that were open containing similar data) suddenly had an active horizontal scroll bar. I dont know why it happened, and it hasnt happened since.
When windows are tiled, the scroll bars are not properly ranged. I had to go in using the userhooks and add this feature.
The problems go on. I try to work around them as I can, but if I had wanted to keep handling all these routines myself, I never would have bought Programmers Extender in the first place. At this point Im about to give up on IS and switch to MPW and MacApp. Im not about to buy Professional Programmers Extender so I can get all the source code and fix the bugs myself. Ive got things Id like to upload, but I wont because theyre buggy -- with Invention Softwares bugs. I just signed an agreement with UpTime to publish something and its going to have a disclaimer right in the instructions saying that bugs relating to window handling are not mine and giving credit where credit is due.
Ive been a subscriber since issue #1 (when it was MacTech), and Im just surprised that Ive never seen anything about this sort of thing in MacTutor. Surely, Im not the only one that has these problems -- ISs own demos have them. Lots of other publishers of compiled libraries and so on advertise in MacTutor and are doubtless selling product to your subscribers. So, how about a little discussion in this area?
[On another subject entirely different, may I point out that Mr. Michelsen was kind enough to include this letter on disk to help relieve the burden on typing. If it is within your budget, send on disk long letters and letters with figures or code in either WriteNow, MacWrite, Word 3.x, or TEXT. Then I can cut and paste with pleasure. Also be sure to mark your disk as being for the Letters Column. Unfortunately, we will not be able to return your disk to you; so do not send a disk if you want it back.-ed]
WriteNow and QuicKeys
CNRS, Paris, France
Your praise of WriteNow in the January 1988 issue of MacTutor as a model Macintosh application is justified. However, there is at least one respect in which WriteNow should not be emulated. It gets poor marks (so far) in one vital aspect of collaboration with other programs.
Namely, it fails to provide for communication (translation) of its formatted files to the outside world. To be sure, it reads MacWrite files and MSWord files using its sidekick Translator program, but in the opposite direction one is trapped. Badly trapped, for I have not had wind of documentation for its file format. This situation frustrates me because I would like to type scientific work using WriteNow and then extract the text with formatting information and go on to eventually print using the most powerful of formatters, TEX. And I am sure it frustrates a multitude of endusers and programmers for a multitude of different reasons.
On this one point MSWord deserves credit for providing communication to and from MacWrite, and to and from its RTF(=Rich Text Format) that is universal. (I would be wholehearted my praise if Microsoft had not left infuriating bugs in the conversion to MacWrite, so that this conversion is best done with Paul Dubois more recent freeware program MakeWrite.)
The Mac at its formidable best is an environment in which applications work together harmoniously toward some end greater than any one of them could attain alone. Unfriendly behavior such as WriteNows is not an easily forgiven sin (nor of course is friendly behavior an easily acquired virtue, as Mac programmers know!).
I would like to compliment QuicKeys (a recent cdev function key application, 1987 CE Software, by Donald Brown) for exemplary behavior in this regard: its user manual has a no fluff technical information section revealing its function key file format, and a wealth of information. Information that is useful to make any application QuicKeys friendly, and also downright enlightening --like a MacTutor article!
All programmers and software publishers should provide for their own software the same respectable level of technical documentation traditionally offered by Apple. We are all in the same Mac!
PS. If you have information of any sort on WriteNow file structure, I beg you to pass it on. I have had wind of a recent update.