TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Prog Assistants
Volume Number:7
Issue Number:4
Column Tag:Tools of the Trade

Programmer's Assistants

By Dave Kelly, MacTutor Editorial Board

Programmer’s Assistants Provides Six Developer Utilities

The next time you’re planning a development project don’t forget to include debugging tools. A debugger doesn’t need to be complicated to get the job done either. Most of the time, you just want to see what your program is doing while it is running. This is a lot harder once you compile the application. This requires you to have a knowledge of your favorite debugger’s capabilities. It helps to understand how the Macintosh works too.

Aladdin Systems, Inc., the “StuffIt™” company provides a set of six desk accessory utilities to help you in your development effort. The Programmer’s Assistants isn’t a substitute for a good debugger, but can provide some features that are worth mentioning here. These utilities were written at the time Raymond Lau was developing StuffIt. Ron Kashden wrote the set of routines as an aid to help in-house development. Raymond Lau needed tools to help see what was going on with his program. Eventually, someone suggested that these tools be made available to everyone.

The package has a notebook of documentation and an 800K disk. There are six chapters in the documentation, one for each utility. Each section has its own separate table of contents. The documentation doesn’t have master table of contents or an index. Every chapter has been design to teach the theory and practice upon which each utility is based. Some people use this package strictly to learn the theory presented in the documentation. To find something you must find the chapter’s individual table of contents and look it up from there. Basic On-Line help information is available for each “Assistants” on-screen. Each window provides a button that accesses the help information.

As mentioned above, there are six DA utilities. Depending on the stage of development that you are in, some of them will be more valuable to you than others. Each utility fills a niche not covered by another. You can decide for yourself which utility you want to use. The Programmer’s Assistants names sound like they come from a mystery movie: The Professor, The Bystander, The Detective, The Witness, Continuity and Bean Counter. A description of each follows.

The Professor Numerical Analyzer performs 23 different integer functions. To use the Professor is straight forward. First set the base to binary, decimal, hex, or octal using the pop-up menus. Next the you select the function from a list dialog by clicking the function button. You may select an 8, 16, or 32 bit value for the value fields. Finally, you click on the “Do It” button to calculate. The 2nd value field acts as a mask for several functions.

The documentation contains a lot of information on numbers. The documentation explains conversion theory for base 2 (binary), decimal, hex, and octal. It’s more than just a base conversion calculator. Since the Professor’s 23 functions are available, you can predict the outcome of your code at the time you write it. This will help you get it right the first time.

The functions supported are: Add, And, Arith.Shr, ClearBit, Divide, Hi, HiWord, Lo, LoWord, Logshr, Mod, Multiply, Not, Or, RotateR, RotateL, SetBit, Shl, Subtract, Swap, SwapWord, TestBit, and Xor. You will find that the Professor will be a handy DA to have around.

The Bystander Event Watcher allows you to observe what the Mac is doing. The display shows the status of the mouse, memory, and events as they occur. You can see from the sample “Bystander” window that the Bystander caught my F-Key press when I dumped the Bystander window to a PICT file. It shows that I pressed the “5” key with cmd and shift modifier keys pressed. The mouse location is specified for both global and local coordinates.

Next, the window displays memory information for the current heap block used. The block of memory can be the Application, or the System, or DA Handler if you are running under Multifinder. You also can specify which events you want to have displayed. You can ignore keydown events if you want to, and the Bystander will display whatever the last specified event was.

Bystander is not without problems though. Although it appears to work as documented, there are bombs that occur occasionally when switching from one application to another in MultiFinder.

The Detective is an interactive debugging tool that displays variables related to your program in their proper types. The documentation gives a complete list of over 150 system global variables. These variables can be selected from a list window and actively displayed in a second window. As the variables change the display is updated. The Detective provides a great way to see what’s happening while your program is running.

The Witness is similar to the Bystander, except that this desk accessory records events in the background and logs them in a generic text file named “Event Log”. You can review the log later to figure out exactly what happened if any bugs occur in your program. The Witness allows you to select exactly which events you want recorded. The header of the Event Log data file displays information about the Macintosh you are using. Version 1.0 (reviewed here) does not know about the Macintosh IIci, but is still a very useful tool.

Continuity Document Historian is a DA that helps you keep track of revisions made in multiple documents. The Continuity DA updates the version resource for each file you select in your project. Until the latest versions of ResEdit were release it was still somewhat awkward to update the revision number. Continuity helps you do that. Of course with the latest ResEdit you can use the ResEdit template to update the version resource and save it to several files. This DA was of more use a year or so ago, but can still be used to keep the current version information up to date.

Bean Counter Optimizer is primarily useful to assembly language programmers. This DA allows you to check the code you have written and examine the number of clock cycles. You may then optimize your code by adjusting lines of code for the best performance. It’s a time consuming process to optimize code and the Bean Counter can really help.

There are many complaints about the increasing size of applications today now that memory is easier to afford. If you are programming assembly language, you should pay attention to the size of your application. Bean Counter was used extensively in streamlining StuffIt Deluxe. It should be noted that Bean Counter is the number one reason that developers buy Programmer’s Assistants.

The documentation for Bean Counter includes a summary of the syntax allowed. Bean Counter was designed for use with syntax from a variety of assemblers.

Programmer’s Assistants retails for $99.95, though the street price (via mail order) is about $65. Although the entire set of DAs may not be useful to everyone, these utilities can truly help you in debugging your development project.

Aladdin Systems, Inc.

Deer Park Center Suite 23A-171

Aptos, CA. 95003

408-685-9175

FAX: 408-662-8418

AppleLink: ALADDIN

America OnLine: ALADDIN

Connect: ALADDIN

GEnie: ALADDINSYS

CompuServe: 75016,325

Internet: aladdin@well.sfca.us

Retail Price: $99.95 (street price $65)

New Stuff

Although it seems Microsoft is not supporting QuickBASIC there have been some maintenance releases that you’ll want to know about. The latest version of version 1.0 supports all Macs and systems through 6.0.7. That doesn’t mean that the problems are completely fixed though. At MacWorld Expo in January, Microsoft hinted that QuickBASIC would not remain ignored for long, but there was no more information on what that means.

ZBasic is still alive and well too. Again there are hints of a new version 6.0 of ZBasic later this year. We’ll just wait and see. There was no sign of True Basic at MacWorld and the latest version I have will not run anymore. That’s either because it doesn’t support the latest system (6.0.7) or because it doesn’t support the IIci. At any rate it appears that there are only two BASIC products left.

 
AAPL
$105.22
Apple Inc.
+0.39
MSFT
$46.13
Microsoft Corpora
+1.11
GOOG
$539.78
Google Inc.
-4.20

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Ember 1.8.2 - 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
Tonality Pro 1.1.2 - Professional-grade...
Tonality Pro gives you the power to create stunning and dramatic black & white images. This is a complete monochrome image editor with more than 150 one-click style presets, totally unique... Read more
VueScan 9.4.49 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
OS X Server 4.0 - For OS X 10.10 Yosemit...
Designed for OS X and iOS devices, OS X Server makes it easy to share files, schedule meetings, synchronize contacts, develop software, host your own website, publish wikis, configure Mac, iPhone,... Read more
TotalFinder 1.6.12 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Tab-based... Read more
BusyCal 2.6.3 - Powerful calendar app wi...
BusyCal is an award-winning desktop calendar that combines personal productivity features for individuals with powerful calendar sharing capabilities for families and workgroups. BusyCal's unique... Read more
calibre 2.7 - Complete e-library managem...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital... Read more
Skitch 2.7.3 - Take screenshots, annotat...
With Skitch, taking, annotating, and sharing screenshots or images is as fun as it is simple.Communicate and collaborate with images using Skitch and its intuitive, engaging drawing and annotating... Read more
Delicious Library 3.3.2 - Import, browse...
Delicious Library allows you to import, browse, and share all your books, movies, music, and video games with Delicious Library. Run your very own library from your home or office using our... Read more
Art Text 2.4.8 - Create high quality hea...
Art Text is an OS X application for creating high quality textual graphics, headings, logos, icons, Web site elements, and buttons. Thanks to multi-layer support, creating complex graphics is no... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rami Ismail Opens Up distribute​() for D...
Rami Ismail Opens Up distribute​() for Developers Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] Rami Ismail, Chief Executive of Business and Development at indie game studio | Read more »
Great Hitman GO Goes on Sale and Gets Ne...
Great Hitman GO Goes on Sale and Gets New Update – Say That Three Times Fast Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Rival Stars Basketball Review
Rival Stars Basketball Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: RESTRICTIVE BUT FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rival Stars Basketball is a fun mixture of basketball and card collecting but its... | Read more »
Rubicon Development Makes Over a Dozen o...
Rubicon Development Makes Over a Dozen of Their Games Free For This Weekend Only Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
I Am Dolphin Review
I Am Dolphin Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEARLY FIN-TASTICUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Swim around and eat nearly everything that moves in I Am Dolphin, a fun Ecco-ish kind of game... | Read more »
nPlayer looks to be the ultimate choice...
Developed by Newin Inc, nPlayer may seem like your standard video player – but is aiming to be the best in its field by providing high quality video play performance and support for a huge number of video formats and codecs. User reviews include... | Read more »
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Wi...
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CLASSY STORYTELLINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch is a sterling... | Read more »
A Few Days Left (Games)
A Few Days Left 1.01 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: Screenshots are in compliance to App Store's 4+ age rating! Please see App Preview for real game play! **Important: Make... | Read more »
Toca Boo (Education)
Toca Boo 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: BOO! Did I scare you!? My name is Bonnie and my family loves to spook! Do you want to scare them back? Follow me and I'll... | Read more »
Intuon (Games)
Intuon 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Join the battle with your intuition in a new hardcore game Intuon! How well do you trust your intuition? Can you find a needle in a... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Weekend sale: 13-inch 128GB MacBook Air for $...
Best Buy has the 2014 13-inch 1.4GHz 128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849.99, or $150 off MSRP, on their online store. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price valid... Read more
Nimbus Note Cross=Platform Notes Utility
Nimbus Note will make sure you never forget or lose your valuable data again. Create and edit notes, save web pages, screenshots and any other type of data – and share it all with your friends and... Read more
NewerTech’s Snuglet Makes MagSafe 2 Power Con...
NewerTech has introduced the Snuglet, a precision-manufactured ring designed to sit inside your MagSafe 2 connector port, providing a more snug fit to prevent your power cable from unintentional... Read more
Apple Planning To Sacrifice Gross Margins To...
Digitimes Research’s Jim Hsiao says its analysts believe Apple is planning to sacrifice its gross margins to save its tablet business, which has recently fallen into decline. They project that Apple’... Read more
Who’s On Now? – First Instant-Connect Search...
It’s nighttime and your car has broken down on the side of the highway. You need a tow truck right away, so you open an app on your iPhone, search for the closest tow truck and send an instant... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $949,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $949.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $150 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Save up to $125 on Retina MacBook Pros
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $125 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple refurbished Time Capsules available sta...
The Apple Store has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for up to $60 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $255... Read more
Textilus New Word, Notes and PDF Processor fo...
Textilus is new word-crunching, notes, and PDF processor designed exclusively for the iPad. I haven’t had time to thoroughly check it out yet, but it looks great and early reviews are positive.... Read more
WD My Passport Pro Bus-Powered Thunderbolt RA...
WD’s My Passport Pro RAID solution is powered by an integrated Thunderbolt cable for true portability and speeds as high as 233 MB/s. HighlightsOverviewSpecifications Transfer, Back Up And Edit In... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple Inc. (U...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**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
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.