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Mar 94 Editor's Page
Volume Number:10
Issue Number:3
Column Tag:The Editor's Page

Shaking, Changing, Looking For Bedrock
And Don’t Forget Hypercard Too!

By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief

Shaking, Changing, looking for Bedrock and don’t forget HyperCard too!

How’s that for a mouthful? This month, I’d like to bring you up to date on a number of different topics. Feel free to skip through those sections that you don’t want to read, but don’t blame us if you miss something important!

The Northridge (Los Angeles) Earthquake

First, for those of you who were/are curious, we survived the earthquake. You may have noticed that this issue is about a week late - you can thank mother nature for that one. The important thing is that no one in our office was hurt (although there were a couple of very close calls). Everyone had a considerable amount of personal property damage and mess to clean up. One of our people had their home “red tagged” (aka condemned). Our offices came through nearly unscathed - but as you might imagine, even at this writing (two weeks after the quake) we’re all a bit on edge. For those of you who asked when we’re moving to some place with four seasons, we already have them - drought, riots, fire and earthquakes!

Thank you to all of you who sent well wishes. Our sincere gratitude to those that made us laugh. The best note was from Marie D’Amico (Steve Capps’ wife) who wrote “Too bad life doesn’t have a Clean Up menu.” The April issue will return (as with the rest of our lives) to our normal schedule. In the meantime, we’ll be searching for something solid to stand on - maybe bedrock (or is it Bedrock - not!)?

Please welcome our new Editor!

For those of you who haven’t heard, we’ve expanded our editorial staff. Xplain Corporation, the publisher of MacTech Magazine, has engaged Scott Boyd - a Macintosh industry veteran - as the Editor of MacTech Magazine.

Scott brings with him a substantial amount of technical experience and is a veteran of Apple. He has published works with Texas A&M, MacTutor, and at MacHack, as well as has contributed to parts of develop and Inside Macintosh. Scott is the co-creator of the MacHack Best Hack Contest and a frequent speaker at Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference, Macworld Expo, and the MacHack Conference. In 1985, Scott co-founded the MacHax™ Group which developed custom Macintosh applications. In 1988, Scott joined Apple Computer, Inc. as part of a tools group. He continued on as part of the “Blue Meanies”, “X-Men”, and finally, as a System Software Technical Lead. During his involvement at Apple, Scott was the Anti-virus development team lead, a member of the Bug-tracking system development team, system architecture consultant, low-level coder, debugger, and key contact with many groups around Apple. As part of Apple’s move to PowerPC-based Macintosh, he helped prepare the way for native code on RISC Macintosh, was a technical evangelist to key 3rd-party developers, led over sixty technical people and was responsible for the on-time delivery of system software.

The addition of an Editor represents Xplain’s continued and increasing commitment to bring quality information to Macintosh developers. Scott will take over much of the day-to-day editorial responsibilities. He knows the Macintosh, he knows the magazine, he knows Apple, and he knows the developer industry. His broad, in-depth knowledge of the Macintosh and the industry make him the ideal Editor for a publication as technical as ours. The magazine will continue to cover topics for novice, intermediate and expert Macintosh developers, but now we’ll have even better resources to do so.

Scott has had impact on this issue, but you will see more of his work in the months to come. Scott can be reached at any of the “editorial” addresses listed on page 2. If you would like to contact me, please start using the “general” e-mail addresses for the most direct access. Please welcome Scott to the MacTech Magazine family - and, as always, let us know what you think!

Some stylistic changes

Starting this month, we’re going to try some stylistic changes to the source code listings. Our primary goal is to improve readability. To do that, we’ll be drawing on work done by Stanford Professor Emeritus Donald Knuth. While we won’t follow his style to the letter, we are going to start with an attempt to distinguish more clearly between comments and code. If you have thoughts on how we’ve done it (see this month’s Programmer’s Challenge and HyperCard Stack Translators for examples), please let us know by e-mail whether you like it, and whether there are additional changes you would like to see.

Where’s the THINKTop 10?

Some of you may notice that this month there’s no THINKTop 10. As many of you know, the technical support group for almost all of Symantec’s products has moved to Eugene, OR. That includes the technical support folks in Bedford, MA. The monthly column will return in the April issue after a one month hiatus.

Bedrock - the continuing saga

It’s official, after a year and a half of collaboration, Apple and Symantec have decided to end the Bedrock alliance. That announcement was made on January 24th. We spoke to Ike Nassi and Emilio Robles at Apple, as well as Gene Wang and Heather Hedin at Symantec about the transition - what it means now and what it symbolizes. Here’s what they said.

Officially, Symantec granted Apple a “worldwide, perpetual license to distribute and further develop Bedrock. Additionally, Apple granted Symantec a worldwide perpetual license to use specific Apple technology in future Symantec products.” Some of you might ask “isn’t this what they had before?” The answer, according to Apple is no. Apple had input into Bedrock, but not control of the framework. Furthermore, Apple now has rights to distribute Bedrock. In case you were wondering, Apple won’t comment on the technology they are licensing to Symantec.

According to Nassi, “Apple intends to make Bedrock the tool of choice for OpenDoc part development.” About six months ago, Apple started looking at the contradiction between working on an application framework like Bedrock when OpenDoc was emerging as an important part of Macintosh. They saw the trend towards “parts” instead of monolithic applications and wanted their tools to reflect this.

As with any transfer of technology, one can look at this in two ways - one positive and one negative. Symantec is by far the largest supplier of Macintosh development tools. Now that they have some competition from Metrowerks (see January, 1994 issue), they are re-examining their strategies. Symantec says that they are “focusing on their knitting” - developer tools for Macintosh.

There are a couple of interesting things to note - you should come to your own conclusions though. Symantec has said in the past that Q&A (Symantec’s initial “claim to fame”) was being built with Bedrock. Yet, to date, we haven’t seen the Macintosh version based on this technology. Next, Apple, IBM, Novell, Sun, Taligent, and WordPerfect are planning on forming an organization called CILabs which will “foster co-development activities related to OpenDoc.” Symantec’s Gene Wang was “excited about OpenDoc” yet Symantec is missing from the list of early adopters. To be fair, the organization hasn’t been formed yet, so this may not mean anything. One last thing - Apple and Symantec are still working together in other areas. Although their Bedrock relationship is ending, other parts of their relationship are still quite active.

If you are looking towards OpenDoc development, you might be wondering whether it will require Bedrock. The answer is definitely no - you’ll be able to develop for OpenDoc with and without Bedrock. Apple is hoping that their efforts with Bedrock will make your efforts to develop OpenDoc parts easier.

If you are wondering about Symantec’s class library strategy - you are going to have all kinds of choices. Symantec will be looking to support TCL, MacApp, and Bedrock not to mention Microsoft Foundation Classes and others. In other words, you’ll be able to pick and choose your tools and libraries from Symantec and other vendors.

It is good to see the reconciliation of the concepts behind Bedrock and OpenDoc - application vs. parts. Now, Apple needs to deliver by bringing developers more help than hassle - a tall order for a company that has not been doing a lot for developers lately.

And now, back to the editorial Hypercard’s Renaissance

For a long time, there has not been a lot going on in the HyperCard arena. Claris did nothing but harm to HyperCard - almost killing it in the marketplace. During their tenure, they messed up the HyperCard business model and neglected to do any development on the product. With Apple taking HyperCard back from Claris, we already see a whole lot more happening. Apple has listened to a number of the complaints that people had and tried to address them. The result is version 2.2.

This issue is a HyperCard issue dedicated to the Renaissance of HyperCard. The first HyperCard article that you’ll see is a review of the new version, so that you can get a “feel” for the current product. Next up is an article about multimedia authoring and then another about stack translators. There’s also a piece from Chris Espinosa about how you might use HyperCard. Now that HyperCard is coming back around, let us know what you’d like to see in the future.

But, the real question is, what is this new HyperCard and why is it important? Bottom line: if you want to create something custom - something better suited for scripting than programming - HyperCard might be your best buddy. My favorite new feature is the ability to create standalone applications from within HyperCard - a feature called “Stack to application”. But the best part of HyperCard today is that there are a whole bunch of third party tools out there that are designed to fill the gaps that HyperCard doesn’t cover. Here’s a few

epsiTalk from epsi computer systems, inc. gives you multi-user capabilities for HyperCard. Multiple users can edit the same stacks simultaneously with record locking and other standard multi-user details.

Resource Navigator II from Bliss Interactive Technologies allows you to create, edit and playback multiple media types, including QuickTime movies, in your HyperCard stack. No programming or scripting is necessary.

I/O Port System from Ansan Industries, Ltd. helps HyperCard users with monitoring, sensing and control systems for home automation, security and fire systems, HVAC, lighting, industrial processes, lab experiments and data acquisition. With this product you can have up to 64 digital inputs.

Nine To Five Software’s Reports DataPro helps you create professional quality printing, viewing and data management features for your stack.

Heizer Software has a number of tools for HyperCard. InColor helps colorize your stacks without scripting. CompileIt! 2.5 is a HyperTalk compiler for the creation of external commands and functions. WindowScript is an interface design tool that allows you to create dialogs, windows and floating palettes. Double-XX is a kernel which contains a HyperTalk interpreter and an XCMD interface for the creation of standalone applications. PrintReport, AskText, and LSelect XCMDs and XFCNs are a set of utility externals that help with printing, text editing windows and lists. PolyTools lets you create irregular-shaped buttons which are functionally equivalent to regular HyperCard buttons. FileFlex gives you the tools to build “wickedly fast” databases with HyperCard. HyperExternals Pro is a collection of over 85 professionally written general purpose XCMDs and XFCNs. HyperGraph is a complete graphing package for HyperCard. StackStarter 2.0 is a set of stack components, examples, tools, tips, etc

Graphical Business Interfaces, Inc.’s TableIt! provides the ability to display tabular data, ICONs, PICTs, SICN resources in a row and column format.

DASWorks’ ListTable helps you create and edit lists and tables with HyperCard.

Full Moon Software’s commstalk for HyperCard turns HyperCard into a powerful and versatile host-access and front-ending tool.

Sheller Development’s PopScript is a scripters’ tool. It is a control panel add-on to HyperCard’s script editor giving you the options for sorting, markers, fonts, handler grouping and more.

Symplex Systems’ HyperTint is a set of XCMDs for adding color to HyperCard - backdrop pictures, button colors, visual effects, etc

Christopher Computers’ HyperShare v2.2 can make your data available to multiple users simultaneously.

Cyan, Inc.’s Peacock is a utility for help with importing and exporting.

FaceWare’s HyperFace 1.1 allows HyperCard programmers to call FaceWare modules from HyperTalk.

Softstream International’s HyperHITDeluxe 2.0 has XCMDs and XFCNs for adding true database support to your stack.

In addition there are a couple of good information resources - Advanced HyperCard Solutions by BFSGroup, The Complete HyperCard 2.2 Handbook by Danny Goodman, and HyperTalk 2.2 The Book by Dan Winkler, Scot Kamins and Jeanne Devoto.

There’s not enough room here to give you full contact information on these companies. You can find out more in the HyperCard Companion Products & Services Directory by Joint Solutions Marketing (408/338-6471). Alternatively, contact our offices for more information on anything listed here - via phone (310/575-4343), fax (310/575-0925), or e-mail (productinfo@xplain.com).

So where is HyperCard going from here? Apple has made significant progress on the product - their new approach to scripting is great. But, there’s a lot more work to do. Apple will hopefully show more continuing development commitment to HyperCard than it has to its other development tools (i.e., MPW, ResEdit, etc ). The HyperCard engineers should work on such things as better integrated color (which is still below SuperCard standards) as well as working to fine tune the product (i.e., size of the runtime in the Stack to Application feature). We wish them the best of luck - how many second chances does a product get anyway?

Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief

 

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