MacWorld Aug 90
|Column Tag:||Show Report
MacWorld Expo, August 1990
By Kirk Chase, Editor
The Boston MacWorld Expo of 1990 may be a couple months away to you, but to me it was last week. Although the show seemed to get off to a slow start, it quickly picked up and had some very nice products out there for developers. The conferences were better than in San Francisco for the most part. There was certainly less product pushing in the conference sessions.=
Products In View
Another reason to buy a CD-ROM driver has just been handed to you. ETO is a CD-ROM containing the most comprehensive collection of development tools from Apple. On it are the most recent updates to MPW, MacApp, MacsBig, and ResEdit as well as a number of items found on the Developers CD series such as SpInside Macintosh, Mac DTS Technical Notes, Sample Code, and Human Interface Notes. Probably one of the most unique features is the releases of alpha and unsupported versions of the above named items and other developer tools.
Another unique feature is that ETO is sold as a quarterly subscription. For about $400, you can get all the above and updates every three months for a year. The price of around $400 is for people who have MPW, MacApp and so on already. If you do not, the price goes up substantially (like double); still it seems to be a good deal for those who want to stay on the bleeding edge of Apples developer tools.
Also on display at the Apple booth was HyperCard 2.0. If you were unfortunate to attend the World Wide Developers Conference this year and attend the HyperCard 2.0 session (and get your shoelaces), you should check out HyperCard 2.0. This update addresses itself to many of the deficiencies that made many scripters go to SuperCard and other card-like products.
There are a host of features available. There is no longer the fixed card size or one stack-at-a-time limit. There is a very much improved HyperTalk scripting language. The editor and debugging tools are also greatly improved. Perhaps the biggest improvement, I feel, is the printing; finally you have something that is user-tolerable.
But the big news is that it may be available for the masses by the time you read this. Thats right! Something that is actually being delivered! Be still my heart, perhaps even System 7.0 will debut before Apple goes under altogether.
On the topic of HyperCard, Heizer Software is offering a product called ConvertIt!. This utility is used by cross-developers in an effort to keep them happy (not cross). ConvertIt! will take a HyperCard stack and converts it to a general format known as the Hypermedia File Format (HIFF). Then after transferring the HIFF over to a IBM PC or compatible platform, a companion program will convert it into ToolBook books.
ConvertIt! comes with extensive help. Not only will it do about 90% of the conversion process for you, it will flag those items that it changed to make compatible and those items it was not able to convert. ConvertIt! will also give you help in finishing up the conversion process. There is also a HyperTalk/OpenScript dictionary for comparing calls between the two platforms. ConvertIt! will currently work on HyperCard 2.0 stacks but does not convert the added capabilities of HyperCard 2.0. Buy ConvertIt! now and look for the update for HyperCard 2.0 real soon.
Prototyper is back with a vengeance. Extensively re-written, version 3.0 makes up for the lack of new features at the San Francisco show. There is now added support for custom controls and custom windows. There is also support for tool palettes (not floating palettes) and sound. Prototyper 3.0 is now extensible by the programmer. There is also more powerful linking in the prototyping environment.
The code generation side has also been improved significantly. MultiFinder aware and 32-bit clean code is now generated for you. The source code files generated have been almost completely re-done allowing for a greater number of hooks; file and printing code has been added. The biggest change that I like is the ability to regenerate your code after you modify your prototype without losing what youve already coded yourself; this is due to the restructuring of the code generation and the user-hooks that have been added.
Prototyper 3.0 takes programming and software development one step closer to the way programming should be done. In my opinion, it is now worth the price many times over in development time saved. In the future though, I hope to see better source code formatting options with better mapping information on the code generated. Floating palettes would be nice as well as custom MDEFs and LDEFs. Better cursor support would be nice as well. But I could go on and on since I appreciate their product so much.
Santorini Consulting & Design, Inc.
Ostrakon is a source code shell for a fully functional Mac application. Ostrakon provides a skeleton framework for creating a Mac application that may be added to for creation of your own product. Ostrakon comes with many goodies such as splash screens, password support, color editing, volume support, error handling and detection, memory management, and much more. Documentation not only explains what is being done and why, but it also cross-referenced with Inside Macintosh and the Tech Notes (something definitely lacking and definitely needed in many other products).
In addition to this, there are a number of goodies like a command-line interpreter and a saveable notepad. These goodies along with a host of other options make this product extremely desirable. There are also a number of mini-shells available for things like INITs, patches and CDEVs. In the future there will be some extensive networking libraries. Keep the name Santorini in mind; I expect to see some great things coming from them.
From 3rd party to Apple and back, Object Logo originally from Coral Software has had an interesting trip. Apple has now entered into an agreement to let Paradigm support and market it. Object Logo is aimed at the K-12 education market. It teaches object oriented paradigms while keeping it simple enough for children to use. Object Logo still has Mac capabilities such as menus and windows
SPLAsh, or Symantec Programming Languages Association, got launched at the Boston Expo. This user group deals with programmers who develope applications using THINK C or THINK Pascal. Their quarterly journal, THINKin CaP, will come with a source code disk.
Prograph 2.0 has arrived. This unique development environment has finally added a compiler to their line so that stand-alone applications may be created. Prograph is unique in that object programming is done through a visual, data-flow like manner. The compiler will accept MPW object files and THINK C libraries into your final application. There are numerous features such as the Check Program option and dcmds for bug free compiling.
There is now a 4D compiler for 4th Dimension. The compiler is a must for applications which are speed critical. The compiler will go through your 4D code looking for logical and syntactical errors. It will produce a symbol table, do range checking, and optimize code for 020/030 microprocessor. Compiled applications, of course, cannot be modified.
Every programmers friend, Invention Software, has updated a couple of their professional quality products. Version 3.5 of the Professional Programmers Extender offers support for Color QuickDraw, offscreen pixmaps, MultiFinder support, and tear-off custom menus. Also added are low-level I/O support and a debugging library. Extender DialogHandler 2.0 now supports modeless dialogs
Language Systems FORTRAN
A number of features have been added to the FORTRAN compiler. The FILE=* option in the OPEN statement will bring up the standard file dialog; you may add a menu item that calls your FORTRAN subroutine; activate a menu with the DOMENU procedure; and COMMONS may be static or dynamic. For you VAX programmers, there are many VAX extensions such as NAMELIST, structures and records, and so on. This is a full ANSI FORTRAN 77 compiler.
Addison-Wesley introduced a number of new books at this expo. Elements of C++ Macintosh Programming and C++ Programming with MacAPP are aimed at those C++ developers. And volume II of the very popular book Macintosh C Programming Primer was out on their stands. Another must book to purchase is The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design.
Conferences In View
Object Oriented Programming Techniques
This session was probably one of the most informative sessions in the way of practical information. I was amazed by what seemed the lack of numbers attending since OOP is the wave of the future. Poor attendance was not because of the speakers, each had plenty to say, and it was a shame that they had such little time to do it in.
Steve Sheets talked about using OOP techniques in non-OOP projects; he gave excellent examples of creating engines for tasks. Bob Diamond spoke on reading and writing objects to files by saving the handle ID in the resource fork. Steve Strong talked about CRC Cards, a good aid in designing classes. Jeff Alger gave a few C++ tricks (something that is certainly needed).
The MacApp Report
This session made me feel sorry that I went. Fortunately is was poorly attended. The session spent much of its time saying Hello to old friends and making jokes. I would have preferred the previous session continuing on instead. Although Tom Chavez had a few things to say about the latest and upcoming version of MacApp, it still was not the greatest session. Perhaps the MADA meeting the day before was more informative.
The Ins and Outs of INITs
Last April in San Francisco, this session was one of my favorites, and so I was anxious to attend this session. I was not disappointed. Steve Brecher did a professional job as mediator of the panel. I hope he will become a regular at as many sessions as he can do.
One shining gem for INIT creators talked about was that in System 7.0 tail patching will be safer. I said safer not safe. There was a real cry for INIT writers to do better in their efforts. INITs should do a great deal of error checking and bow out gracefully. INITs should have preference files instead of modifying themselves so as to save back up time and update problems. Instead of unpatching your traps, you should just call the next one. INIT users and writers should get InitScope from a user group to track patches and analysis of INITs.
These were just a handful of the tips. The session was well attended, and you should think about purchasing the audio tape if you missed it.
The Developers Toolkit
Lisa Neal gave a good talk on user interface issues for the fledgling (and seasoned) developer. She addressed issues such as positive feedback and help systems. Again, the time constraint kept all the numbers and practical examples down to the bare minimum. Dave Richey gave a good overview of the Toolbox and how it works.
New Adventures in Programming
This session was another one that held a number of little gems. Probably the longest discussion was on System 7 pitfalls and tips. The answer was memory-stay 32-bit clean, understand the Memory Manager, and only call HLock when you need to; the developers there said that you should understand why you called HLock and have a valid reason for it before using it.
A couple of other points were made. There was a call that people should at least read assembly language and understand what the compiled code is doing. They mentioned a Pop-Up Menu CDEF that is being developed by a group of people headed by Chris Faigle. You can find its latest incarnation on AppleLink or America On-Line. I suggest you get it. It has been around for a while and has System 7 style variations in it for those who cant wait for Apple to come out with theirs.
Meet The Programmers
Another good session. Probably the most interesting topic was that of object oriented programming. It was suggested the OOP has been around for a long time and has still not delivered all that it claimed. Although it has helped a lot at getting an application up, there is a need for better tools and a much smaller size. I feel, and it was expressed by a few others on the panel, that products like Prototyper and AppMaker are much closer at solving many of the problems of creating an application. A fine comment was made for the need of code databases. Aranda by Soft-Set comes the closest to this need of a source code databases.
The conferences at the Boston Expo came a long way from the Press Release conferences of San Francisco. Speakers need to remember that those who attend their sessions are paying out over three times as much as regular attendees for this privilege. They deserve more than a session of jokes. I imagine that future expos will have even better conferences for developers. Then maybe we will see better attendance.