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
$100.11
Apple Inc.
-0.64
MSFT
$46.44
Microsoft Corpora
+0.03
GOOG
$576.36
Google Inc.
-0.74

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

SyncTwoFolders 2.0.5 - Syncs two user-sp...
SyncTwoFolders simply synchronizes two folders. It supports synchronization across mounted network drives and it is a possibility to run a simulation showing in a log what will be done. Please visit... Read more
FinderPop 2.5.7 - Classic Mac utility, n...
FinderPop is a Universal preference pane that extends OS X's contextual menus using a FinderPop Items folder much as the Apple Menu Items folder used to do for the Apple menu. It has other features... Read more
VueScan 9.4.45 - 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
LibreOffice 4.3.2.2 - Free Open Source o...
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
calibre 2.4 - 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
Default Folder X 4.6.9b1 - Enhances Open...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click... Read more
Beamer 2.0.4 - Stream any movie file fro...
Beamer streams to your Apple TV.... Plays any movie file - Just like the popular desktop movie players, Beamer accepts all common formats, codecs and resolutions. AVI, MKV, MOV, MP4, WMV, FLV. To... Read more
Adobe Premiere Elements 13.0 - Consumer...
Adobe Premiere Elements just got better. Now you can create quick movies from favorite parts of your clips or tell big life stories in full-on productions. Add motion inside movie titles, punch up... Read more
Boom 1.9.2 - System-wide volume booster...
Boom is a system-wide volume booster and equalizer that effortlessly improves the sound of your Mac. Using Boom is easy. It works like the volume controls of your Mac to boost the sound; making it a... Read more
Amadeus Pro 2.1.7 - Multitrack sound rec...
Amadeus Pro lets you use your Mac computer for any audio-related task, such as live audio recording, digitizing tapes and records, converting between a variety of sound formats, etc. Thanks to its... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

This Week at 148Apps: September 22-26, 2...
Your Source For The Latest App Reviews   | Read more »
Kill Shot Review
Kill Shot Review By Jennifer Allen on September 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: OCCASIONAL MISFIRESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Kill Shot is often satisfying, but its more than pushy in-app purchases will leave you... | Read more »
It Came From Canada: Vainglory
I’m going to be straight you with folks. I don’t know much about MOBAs, and I’m certainly no professional. That means I don’t know how well Vainglory, the upcoming multiplayer online battle arena showcased in the most recent Apple keynote, compares... | Read more »
The Tunnel – An Endless Fall Review
The Tunnel – An Endless Fall Review By Nadia Oxford on September 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FREE FALLIN' Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad The Tunnel – An Endless Fall is a bit harder to get the hang of than most “endless... | Read more »
Ubisoft Launches Just Dance Now in the A...
Ubisoft Launches Just Dance Now in the App Store Worldwide Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
For Better, or for Worse? How the New Ap...
With the release of iOS 8 (finally), Apple has made some noticeable changes on the App Store – bundles, videos, and Testflight integration, to name a few. Many of these additions will make things friendlier for App Store shoppers, but how has it... | Read more »
Asphalt Overdrive Review
Asphalt Overdrive Review By Jennifer Allen on September 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SHORT LIVED ADRENALINEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Asphalt Overdrive is a fairly simple auto-running racing game, but one that’s... | Read more »
Kritika: Wrath of the Pirate King Update...
Kritika: Wrath of the Pirate King Update Introduces New Class: Shadow Mage. Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Vampire Tribunals Review
Vampire Tribunals Review By Campbell Bird on September 29th, 2014 Our Rating: iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Hunt other vampires in the “real world” in this location-based multiplayer game.   | Read more »
Simogo Tease The Sailor’s Dream Via Thei...
Simogo Tease The Sailor’s Dream Via Their New Trailer Posted by Ellis Spice on September 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] A new trailer has arrived for the newest title from Device 6 and | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple Releases OS X Mavericks bash Update 1.0...
Apple has released a patch update for OS X Mavericks users to address the recently-detected “Shellshock” security bug in BSD UNIX’s bash shell. Apple says only a few Mac users who had manually... Read more
Pivotal Payments Ready for Apple Pay – FlexPo...
Pivotal Payments, a provider of merchant services and global payment processing solutions, has announced its proprietary FlexPoint platform will support credit and debit transactions through Apple’s... Read more
iStabilizer Announces Tabarm — First Friction...
iStabilizer, a specialist in universal lightweight compact tripods, steady cams, dollies, mounts, and remotes for smartphones, tablets, and cameras, announced today the iStabilizer tabArm, the first... Read more
IStabilizer Flex Smartphone Tripod Wins Usa T...
iStabilizer, a specialist in universal lightweight compact tripods, steady cams, and other products for smartphones, tablets, and cameras, has announced today that its iStabilizer Flex smartphone... Read more
13-inch 2.8GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ 2.8GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1699.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels Desktop and LoJack for... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels Desktop... Read more
Get Down to Business On Your iPad With Free N...
Utah based Poem LLC has introduced Nexticy 1.0, a full-featured, affordable (Free) forms application for iPad. Nexticy makes it ‘way easy’ to create, store, retrieve and analyze paper-like forms of... Read more
13-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $100...
Best Buy has 13-inch 2.6GHz Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $100 off MSRP on their online store. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Prices are for online orders only, in-... Read more
Reports Outline Claimed 12-Inch Macbook Air D...
Blogger Jack March says that according to information he’s received from an anonymous “source familiar with Apple’s plans,” the next-generation MacBook Air will launch in mid-2015 and be available... Read more
Pelican Products, Inc. Debuts Pelican ProGear...
Pelican Products, Inc. has announced its roster of new Pelican ProGear Protector and Pelican ProGear Voyager cases for the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The new Pelican ProGear Protector and... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the 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
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
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.