Jan 93 Letters
By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief
Too much code overhead
I've just read your October editorial and I have to agree with you on Quark, Inc. I've had my problems with them and I've heard other people say the same thing.
I'd like to address a couple of other things that you talk about in your editorial. The first is the speed of an application. I don't believe that the problem is bad code, I feel the problem is the programming styles of the 1990's. There is no way possible that a high level language, application generator or OOP language can produce code that can compete with code written in assembler. Yes, I know that the development time will increase by several factors, I however, see the trend as disturbing. I'm talking about major commercial applications. Have you compared System 7 and System 6 side by side? The difference in speed is dramatic. The System 7 Finder supposedly was written in C++, what a dog. I've written a shareware scripting application, Texx, that makes heavy use of the new System 7 facilities. Texx is an interpreter much like a BASIC interpreter that supports all the Finder events. I have found that I can parse and execute the language very rapidly, but when I have to pass an external command where I use the Alias and Apple Event managers, my code seems to be carrying a boat anchor. Even worse, the Finder doesn't even use the Apple Event Manager. There are numerous bugs that I'm sure Apple wouldn't admit to. The point I'm trying to make here, is that using a high level language to write an operating system or other major components is only going to yield slow code for not only the operating system, but everything that runs on it. I don't care what the Unix people say, they can't deny that fact. My application is written mostly in Pascal, but I've got some assembler routines where I need the speed, and I plan to convert some other routines to assembler. I find the trend towards OOPs and application generators very disturbing.
I'd like to applaud your efforts with MacTutor. I like the coverage of the different development platforms.
- Jose Aguirre
A few comments
"Single-topic" issues are a good idea (such as the "icon issue"). Of course, not every single article should be on the same subject, but a majority with different attacks. Some areas to try: fonts (including TrueType and double-byte international), Comm Toolbox, AppleEvents, error-handling schemes, cross-platform libraries, object-oriented design/debugging, Balloon Help, etc.
I second the motion for a "classified ads" section, particularly for employment (like near the back of MacWeek).
I specifically would like to know more about design/analysis, programmer's support tools, SmallTalk, Prograph, Bedrock, and Dylan. [To Apple: how about letting EVERYONE write apps for the Newton?!]
I'd like to see less Forth and FORTRAN and more C, C++, and Object Pascal. I'd like to see some SmallTalk, if possible, and maybe some HyperCard stuff. Leave MacApp programming to MADA publications, but some advanced articles about writing classes for (or just compatible with) Think Class Library would be nice. If you could make your source code available over AppleLink, America Online (my preference), or CompuServe, I'd like that a whole lot! It's not the cost of ordering disks that's the problem, it's the time for delivery and hassle of phoning in the order.
- C. Keith Ray
[You are right on the single topic issue comment. That is basically what we do. Classified ads: Well readers, what do you think? Online sources: were working on it. More topics: were working on it. - Ed.]
No cute stuff!
I've found the changes you've made to MacTutor great. However, I was disappointed to find a cute, but useless article in the October issue. Let's save cute & useless articles for the editorials & publisher's notes [should David and I take this personally? - Ed.]. Yes, the Macintosh world needs humor - but programmers make enough personal jokes without the help of anyone else.
I look forward to seeing more of the quality articles which appear in the latest releases of MacTutor.
- Mark Munz
[The On the Lighter Side article is a new addition. You are the first to complain about it. Since MacTech is driven by the users, I will monitor additional response. If there are more that agree with you, well remove the series. - Ed.]