TweetFollow Us on Twitter

IAC Toolkit 2
Volume Number:7
Issue Number:8
Column Tag:Tools of the Trade

UserLand's IAC Toolkit

By Neil Ticktin, Los Angeles, CA

About the author

[Neil is the President of The Truin Group -- a consulting and software development firm in Los Angeles. He is one of the authors of Extender DialogHandler by Masters Publishing and has been developing Macintosh software and writing technical documentation since 1986.]

What is IAC Toolkit?

UserLand’s IAC Toolkit is an Application Program Interface (API) and system software for adding interapplication communication (IAC) to your application. It is both System 6 and System 7 compatible. On the surface, IAC Toolkit can be placed in the same tool category as Apple’s AppleEvents or Microsoft’s Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE). But, once you look deeper at all three, you will see that IAC Toolkit stands in a class by itself.

What can IAC Toolkit do for you?

As a developer, you already well know that no program can do everything. Sometimes, developers strive for this ultimate completeness, but many times they end up with a bad case of featuritis. The Macintosh helped to prevent this problem with the advent of the clipboard. It wasn’t necessary to be able to draw a picture in Microsoft Word because you could create a picture in MacDraw and paste it in to your Word document.

But, there are many situations that the clipboard does not handle at all or as well. For example, let’s take the scenario of putting together a mass mailing. The best tools for writing are obviously word processors. The best tools for keeping data organized are databases. With IAC, you could have your word processor make a request to your database and receive back information for the mailing list. With the clipboard, you would have to make a request in the database, copy the information, paste it into the word processor and possibly reformat it. Each time you wanted another mailing list you’d have to go through this process. But, with IAC, you could set up the query once and watch the applications do all the work.

With this all in mind, you can now think about creating a set of applications that are each very focused. This way, your applications will avoid the featuritis problem. By building a suite of applications, you can think about a different type of development and release schedule. For example, instead of one massive program with a 18 month development cycle, you can release three different products with a six month development cycle each. This is a lot easier on your company’s cash flow.

How does it work?

The IAC Toolkit comes with a manual, examples and the necessary files. The files included are headers, THINK C and MPW libraries, and the UserLand INIT that you will need for System 6 use. To install the product on a System 6 machine, you simply copy the UserLand INIT into the System Folder. The header and library files simply need to be copied to their appropriate place within your compiler environment.

To actually implement IAC code in your message receiving application you would do the following:

• Add initialization and closing code

• Load up the symbol table with the verbs your application supports

• Add a call to the UserLand event filter

• Implement your “handleverb” routine

• Implement the verb handlers

• Implement your required-event handlers (open, open document, quit, and print document)

• Set the MultiFinder attributes of your project

• Add a few UserLand STR# resources to your resources

To implement the message sending code, you would do the following:

• Set up a new verb message

• Push the necessary verb parameters

• Send the verb message by “ending” it.

An Example

Let’s take a look at a very simple example that implements the “quit” message. To test the example, I used the “Noogie” program to send a “quit” message to my tester application. The tester application was taken from the “Bullseye” example in the THINK C package.

The first thing I did was to modify Noogie so that it sends the message to Bullseye instead of UserDex (another UserLand example). To do so, I simply changed the “idotherprogram” constant in noogie.h from “UDEX” to “BlEy” (the signature I used for the bullseye example).

Next, I went into the bullseye project and added the “#include <land.h>“ line and added some macros and global variables at the top of bullseye.c.

/* 1 */

#include “land.h”
#define notoken  0L
#define quitprogramtoken  ‘quit’
boolean quitNow; /* global flag variable */

Then I added the UserLand IAC Toolkit library to my bullseye project. The toolkit has initialization and close routines which I placed in the main program. You can also see the initialization and checking of the “quitNow” variable to enable quiting from a routine. In addition, there is the initialization of the landglobals structure and the call to landaddverb. The landglobals structure contains a pointer to the handleverb routine so that when a verb comes in, that routine is called. The landaddverb call loads up the symbol table with the information needed for each verb handled.

/* 2 */

main() {
 InitMacintosh(); /* bullseye init routine */
 if (!landinit()) {
 return;
 }
 landglobals.handleverbroutine = &handleverb;
 landaddverb (quitprogramtoken);
 SetUpMenus();  /* bullseye init routine */
 SetUpWindow(); /* bullseye init routine */
 
 quitNow = false;
 for (;quitNow == false;)
 HandleEvent(); /* bullseye routine */
 landclose();
}

Finally, I created a “handleverb” routine that actually does the work of each verb. In this case, we have only one verb -- “quit”. It sets the boolean flag so that the main program will clean up and exit.

/* 3 */

boolean handleverb (hverb)
hdlverbrecord hverb; {
 switch ((**hverb).verbtoken) {
 case quitprogramtoken:
 SysBeep(4);
 SysBeep(4);
 SysBeep(4);
 quitNow = true;
 break;
 }
 }

That is all there is to being able to receive verbs and handle them via IAC Toolkit. Now, sending is a bit more difficult, especially since the manual doesn’t really go into it, but at least you get a head start with receiving messages which is more important for initial System 7 compatibility anyway.

The Code

Their code is well written and fairly compact. In fact, the UserLand INIT for System 6 machines is only 5K. The INIT takes up about 6K in your user’s System heap plus space for each message as it is transferred. Their main “land.h” header file is a 12K document.

While first working with the code, I did run into a number of slightly annoying problems. These were caused mostly by changes in THINK C’s interfaces. (Symantec is making a move to make THINK C code source compatible with MPW C). I found UserLand’s technical support to be very responsive here, although they almost always do technical support via call backs.

I did find two other very minor annoyances. First, true, false, and boolean were declared without the use of a #ifndef and therefore conflicted with other tools I was using. And, I prefer that routine names be mixed case instead of all lower case to be more readable, but this is a personal style difference.

All of their demonstration code was thoroughly debugged and commented in the necessary places. The examples ran without a hitch. UserLand is extremely confident about their engine for handing IAC. They say that it has had millions of messages sent through it without a hitch. That confidence comes through in the right places.

Compatibility is the product’s strongest feature. If you write an application using IAC Toolkit,

• You will be fully compatible with any other IAC Toolkit or AppleEvent program.

• Your users can use IAC on either System 6 or System 7.

• You will be using a fully tested and debugged toolkit.

The Documentation

Fortunately, the only major thing that I do not like about this product is its documentation. The good news is that the IAC toolkit manual is only about 70 pages long. In fact, I was able to read it cover to cover in about an hour.

The bad news is that it does not get close enough to the first time IACer. There are step by step instructions on how to write an application that can receive and handle IAC verbs, but at times, these steps are unclear. Worse yet, there are no examples in the manual describing how to send IAC verbs. They are covered in the reference portion of the manual, but not in a way that is easy to follow. The manual basically says to see the “Noogie” example to see how this works. And, in fact, Noogie comes with full C source, but I would like to see something in the documentation to supplement the example. The documentation reflects UserLand’s belief that it’s much more important to support IAC servers, not clients.

The manual is small, so finding things is not too bad. Their is an index which is best used to find where routine declarations are located in the reference. Finally, in all fairness, while I would like to see a lot more in the manual, it is better than Apple’s Event Manager documentation.

Pricing

At this time, UserLand IAC Toolkit sells for $395 for the development package. When you are ready to ship an application, you’ll need to get a 5 year distribution license from UserLand. “The cost is $4000 for a fully-paid; royalty-free license to include the Toolkit with as many of your company’s applications as you like.” When you license the code from UserLand, you will receive the full source for the Toolkit as soon as you return the non-disclosure agreement.

Now, while some of you may think that $4000 is a lot of money to license a programming tool, you should think about the amount of time this product will save your programmers and what their time is worth. For those of you that are working on low dollar products or shareware, discuss your problem with UserLand, maybe you and they can come up with a creative solution. UserLand certainly seems open to this idea.

Where is this leading

If you haven’t heard by now, UserLand is not only in the business of producing IAC Toolkits, but much more importantly, a user scripting system called Frontier. UserLand Frontier is the first general-purpose user scripting utility for external control of the Macintosh OS and its applications.

Frontier works with applications even if they don’t use the IAC Toolkit. Frontier is Apple event-aware and uses the Apple Object Model. When Frontier is used with an IAC-aware application, it will be as if the application had user scripting built in to it from the beginning. But better yet, you could easily combine the efforts of multiple applications in one script.

Frontier is different from utilities such as QuicKeys™ or Tempo™ which record macros. Frontier is a full programming language with structures and logic. Its scripting system’s interface is based on an “outline processing metaphor”. This should be no surprise when you realize that the president of UserLand is Dave Winer, the creator of ThinkTank and MORE.

UserLand realizes that many of Frontier’s scripting users may not have programming background. As a result, Frontier has a professional programming language, based on the syntax of C combined with BASIC’s interactivity. Behind the scripting system is full blown object database which is a cross between a language symbol table and a computer filing system. UserLand considers this object database to be extremely robust and powerful while remaining much more friendly than traditional programming languages.

In UserLand’s words, “Frontier provides five fundamental benefits:

• It offers a better scripting environment than those provided by individual programs.

• The user can script applications that never had integrated scripting.

• The user can write scripts that control the file system and operating system.

• The user needs to learn just one language to write scripts for many applications.

• Because Frontier is built around IAC, scripts can be written that integrate the functions of multiple applications.”

There are those people who say that people should wait for AppleScript, but remember, we are still waiting to find out what AppleScript is, let alone when it might ship. Many people believe that shipping dates are probably still years off.

In addition to the Macintosh OS, UserLand is currently exploring the possibility of extending Frontier (and hopefully IAC Toolkit) to control Microsoft DDE-based applications. UserLand is also investigating the possibilities of Windows, OS/2, Unix and PenPoint versions, but has not yet announced any of these.

Frontier will be available in two versions: the complete development system with scripting and a run-time version that will only be able to execute scripts. Frontier runtime will be priced at under $200. As of this writing, Frontier is expected to ship in October, 1991.

The Bottom Line

First and foremost, I strongly recommend this product. Last year, I took the [very long] time to read about AppleEvents in the pre-release version of Inside Macintosh, Volume VI. I can honestly tell you that I have no idea what I read. Even with its limitations, UserLand IAC Toolkit’s manual allowed me to understand the basic fundamentals of IAC and got me to the point that I could implement them within hours.

Obviously, UserLand has developed IAC Toolkit so that when the time comes for Frontier to ship, there will be a number of IAC aware products on the market. This goal has forced them to make IAC as simple as possible. Their toolkit has accomplished this task.

I’ve seen pre-release versions of Frontier running. It is an exciting product. From a developer’s point of view, you will want this utility to be able to take full advantage of your application. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use IAC Toolkit to implement interapplication communication in every one of your programs.

For those of you out there that are worried about a third party writing an operating system level utility, you need to hear a few things. First, Apple is interested in IAC Toolkit working well for developers, perhaps because they did such a poor job of helping with AppleEvents. In fact, it seems that Apple has given UserLand its semi-official blessing through an agreement reached in October, 1990 to make UserLand’s communication protocol fully compatible with Apple’s. Second, there are a number of companies that have written OS level utilities -- have you ever heard of Adobe Type Manager™? Next, realize that UserLand has important people involved. Dave Winer is responsible for the Macintosh’s greatest outliners. In addition, UserLand has Jean-Louis Gassée on its board of directors. And, although Jean-Louis is no longer at Apple, he certainly has an idea of where they are going (at least as much as anyone can).

From a technical point of view, IAC Toolkit is a top notch product, although its documentation could use some polishing. UserLand’s technical support was both responsive and accurate.

What more can I tell you? You should be thinking IAC. If you want to have any time left to develop the rest of your product, you should be thinking UserLand IAC Toolkit.

For more information, contact:

UserLand Software, Inc.

490 California Avenue

Palo Alto, CA 94306

Voice: 415-325-5700; Fax: 415-325-9829

Retail Price: $395 for the toolkit, $4000 5 yr licensing fee (with full sources).

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

ExpanDrive 5.4.4 - Access cloud storage...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
Dash 3.4.3 - Instant search and offline...
Dash is an API documentation browser and code snippet manager. Dash helps you store snippets of code, as well as instantly search and browse documentation for almost any API you might use (for a full... Read more
Civilization VI 1.0.2 - Next iteration o...
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is the next entry in the popular Civilization franchise. Originally created by legendary game designer Sid Meier, Civilization is a strategy game in which you attempt to... Read more
TurboTax 2016 - Manage your 2016 U.S. ta...
TurboTax guides you through your tax return step by step, does all the calculations, and checks your return for errors and overlooked deductions. It lets you file your return electronically to get... Read more
Microsoft Office 2016 15.30 - Popular pr...
Microsoft Office 2016 - Unmistakably Office, designed for Mac. The new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote provide the best of both worlds for Mac users - the familiar Office... Read more
FotoMagico 5.3 - Powerful slideshow crea...
FotoMagico lets you create professional slideshows from your photos and music with just a few, simple mouse clicks. It sports a very clean and intuitive yet powerful user interface. High image... Read more
Acorn 5.6.1 - Bitmap image editor.
Acorn is a new image editor built with one goal in mind - simplicity. Fast, easy, and fluid, Acorn provides the options you'll need without any overhead. Acorn feels right, and won't drain your bank... Read more
iMazing 2.1.8 - Complete iOS device mana...
iMazing (was DiskAid) is the ultimate iOS device manager with capabilities far beyond what iTunes offers. With iMazing and your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), you can: Copy music to and from... Read more
Logic Pro X 10.3 - Music creation and au...
Logic Pro X is the most advanced version of Logic ever. Sophisticated new tools for professional songwriting, editing, and mixing are built around a modern interface that's designed to get creative... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.37 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more

Red's Kingdom (Games)
Red's Kingdom 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Mad King Mac has kidnapped your father and stolen your golden nut! Solve puzzles and battle goons as you explore and battle your... | Read more »
Turbo League Guide: How to tame the cont...
| Read more »
Fire Emblem: Heroes coming to Google Pla...
Nintendo gave us our first look at Fire Emblem: Heroes, the upcoming mobile Fire Emblem game the company hinted at last year. Revealed at the Fire Emblem Direct event held today, the game will condense the series' tactical RPG combat into bite-... | Read more »
ReSlice (Music)
ReSlice 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Audio Slice Machine Slice your audio samples with ReSlice and create flexible musical atoms which can be triggered by MIDI notes or... | Read more »
Stickman Surfer rides in with the tide t...
Stickson is back and this time he's taken up yet another extreme sport - surfing. Stickman Surfer is out this Thursday on both iOS and Android, so if you've been following the other Stickman adventures, you might be interested in picking this one... | Read more »
Z-Exemplar (Games)
Z-Exemplar 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
5 dastardly difficult roguelikes like th...
Edmund McMillen's popular roguelike creation The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has finally crawled onto mobile devices. It's a grotesque dual-stick shooter that tosses you into an endless, procedurally generated basement as you, the pitiable Isaac,... | Read more »
Last week on PocketGamer
Welcome to a weekly feature looking back on the past seven days of coverage on our sister website, PocketGamer. It’s taken a while for 2017 to really get going, at least when it comes to the world of portable gaming. Thank goodness, then, for... | Read more »
ROME: Total War - Barbarian Invasion set...
To the delight of mobile strategy fans, Feral Interactive released ROME: Total War just a few months ago. Now the game's expansion, Barbarian Invasion is marching onto iPads as a standalone release. [Read more] | Read more »
Yuri (Games)
Yuri 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: It's night. Yuri opens his eyes. He wakes up in a strange forest.The small, courageous explorer rides on his bed on casters in this... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Laptop Market – Flight To Quality? – The ‘Boo...
Preliminary quarterly PC shipments data released by Gartner Inc. last week reveal an interesting disparity between sales performance of major name PC vendors as opposed to that of less well-known... Read more
IBM and Bell Transform Canadian Enterprise Mo...
IBM and Bell Canada have announced they are joining forces to offer IBM MobileFirst for iOS market-ready enterprise applications for iPad, iPhone or Apple Watch. Bell, Canada’s largest communications... Read more
Otter Products is Closing… For a Day of Givin...
On Thursday, Feb. 9, Otter Products is closing doors to open hearts. In partnership with the OtterCares Foundation, the company is pausing operations for a day so all employees can volunteer with... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
Amazon has 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pros (MJLQ2LL/A) available for $1799.99 including free shipping. Apple charges $1999 for this model, so Amazon’s price is represents a $200 savings. Read more
Back in stock: Apple refurbished 13-inch Reti...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $360 off original MSRP, starting at $1099. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is... Read more
CalcTape for macOS 1.2 Adding Machine App for...
schoettler Software has announced CalcTape 1.2, an update to their desktop calculator for macOS. When it comes to adding long columns of numbers, doing complex calculations or playing around with... Read more
New MacBooks And MacBook Pros WIth Kaby Lake...
Digitimes’ Joseph Tsai cites a Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) report that unnamed market watchers are predicting Apple MacBook shipments to grow 10 percent in 2017, and projecting 15... Read more
New 2016 13-inch MacBook Pros on sale for up...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar MacBook Pro... Read more
New 15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock a...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 15″ Apple Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar... Read more
Opera Announces Neon Concept Browser For Mac
Opera is inviting users to get a glimpse of what Opera for computers could become with its Opera Neon browser concept. Each Opera Neon feature is described as “an alternate reality” for the Opera... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Los Angeles, CA Introduction: We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (Multi-L...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Stamford, CT We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most well-known Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.