TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Dec 95 Viewpoint
Volume Number:11
Issue Number:12
Column Tag:Viewpoint

Viewpoint

By Scott T Boyd, Editor-at-Large

When I first saw Dylan, years ago when I was still at Apple, I dropped everything and ran out to get documentation. Wow! Even with a Lispy syntax, the language grabbed my interest. The rumor (yes, even people inside Apple often wonder what’s really going on) was that Dylan was being developed for the Newton, but some big hoo-haa happened. Nevertheless, only two years later the Dylan team gave a powerful presentation to a standing-room only crowd at WWDC. The room stayed filled to overflowing for the duration, and the audience sat in rapt attention. Dylan clearly had the right stuff.

From its inception, Macintosh offered a Pascal interface to a machine built with 68K assembly language. Over time C got its foot in the door, then forced its way all the way in. It didn’t matter that C programmers (and compiler writers) had to go out of their way to conform to Pascal calling conventions. Maybe C programmers always expected life to be a little harder. Pascal retreated to second-class citizen status about the same time that C++ appeared on the scene. Again, it didn’t matter that C++ builds took hours, nor that debugging tools were initially completely inadequate. C and C++ clearly won the battle for market share. Pascal holdouts developed a double frustration (as if it wasn’t bad enough that they were developing for a machine with only a tiny fraction of the overall market share).

As one of those frustrated Pascal programmers, I did the only sensible thing - I turned to 68K assembly language. No sense in using it to do simple things, though. After all, a bunch of my C++ NuFinder friends were getting lots of hours in on the video games. I couldn’t let them get too much practice without getting in some of my own, so I put 68K assembly language to its best possible use - building Macintosh system software. That often took hours, just like NuFinder!

So along comes Dylan. What grabbed me? I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t think the ephemeral garbage collector did it, nor did the clean exception model. I raised my eyebrow at the direct dispatching of events and the resulting elimination of the need for almost all conditional expressions. Those paled in comparison, though, to the dynamic, interactive programming environment.

What does that mean? You can execute your program, halt it when it misbehaves, fix some code, and resume execution! “But wait!” you say. “How can this be? Where’s my video game practice time in this process?” Wasn’t there supposed to be a big compile time followed by an excruciatingly-long link time? Oh, sure, Metrowerks and Symantec have knocked that time down considerably, but there’s still time for a good cup of ’jo in a small project build, or even a full game of CyberBall while building something the size of Cyberdog.

I hesitate to even mention that I once programmed in BASIC. After all, how serious can a language be when you don’t even have to deal with a compiler or a linker? What I do remember was how productive I felt in the interactive environment. I could write code, run it, test it, and write some more, all in the span of a few seconds. I didn’t realize how much I missed that experience until I saw Dylan. Ease-of-use? The Macintosh experience brought to the developer’s doorstep?

Of course, it was too good to be true. The demo was great, the team was stellar, and Apple couldn’t deliver. After untold millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours of work, Apple disbanded the Cambridge team and sent them packing (and just about the time that Dylan implementations were showing up other platforms, too!). Bummer!

I’ve been waiting for a Dylan-like experience for years. Is it time? Although I know that I’ll hear the old “common sense” harangues about performance and footprint, I’ll say it anyway. Yes. Times are a-changin’, and common sense warrants reconsideration from time to time. I’ll measure acceptable performance by two standards. First, does my performance increase? I don’t care how fast a compiler can consume thousands of lines of C code, a compiler that incrementally compiles code during a “Save” beats it every time. Second, do my applications compare favorably with best-selling software on footprint and speed? Sure, I remember the days when we slaved to fit a system and an application onto a single 400K floppy, but larger floppies (how big a floppy is the Internet anyway?), compression, and machines bigger than the minicomputers of less than a decade ago changed all the rules.

I’ll leave you with this thought: Mike Lockwood, former Dylan frameworks engineer, said to me during a demo back in ’94, “One of these has to succeed. I don’t really care which, as long as one of them does.” The other one? QKS’ SmalltalkAgents. See for yourself at <http://www.qks.com/>

Top 10 Again

We’ve now heard more from Apple about the MacHack Top Ten. I must commend the author of this response for overcoming many of the criticisms I voiced here last month. While not really saying much, this latest response leaves less room for caustic comment. Check out Apple’s latest at <http://www.machack.com/>.

Food For Thought

Ask Yahoo <http://www.yahoo.com/> about languages and you’ll see numbers like this: C++ - 109 matches, Visual Basic - 86 matches, Java - 68 matches, Smalltalk - 21 matches, AppleScript - 8 matches, HyperTalk - 1 match.

 
AAPL
$517.96
Apple Inc.
+0.00
MSFT
$39.75
Microsoft Corpora
+0.00
GOOG
$536.44
Google Inc.
+0.00

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty 1.1.1.180...
Download the patch by launching the Starcraft II game and downloading it through the Battle.net connection within the app. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is a strategy game played in real-time. You... Read more
Sibelius 7.5.0 - Music notation solution...
Sibelius is the world's best-selling music notation software for Mac. It is as intuitive to use as a pen, yet so powerful that it does most things in less than the blink of an eye. The demo includes... Read more
Typinator 5.9 - Speedy and reliable text...
Typinator turbo-charges your typing productivity. Type a little. Typinator does the rest. We've all faced projects that require repetitive typing tasks. With Typinator, you can store commonly used... Read more
MYStuff Pro 2.0.16 - Create inventories...
MYStuff Pro is the most flexible way to create detail-rich inventories for your home or small business. Add items to MYStuff by dragging and dropping existing information, uploading new images, or... Read more
TurboTax 2013.r17.002 - Manage your 2013...
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
TrailRunner 3.8.769 - Route planning for...
Note: While the software is classified as freeware, it is actually donationware. Please consider making a donation to help support development. TrailRunner is the perfect companion for runners,... Read more
Flavours 1.1.10 - Create and apply theme...
Flavours is a Mac application that allow users to create, apply and share beautifully designed themes. Classy Give your Mac a gorgeous new look by applying delicious themes! Easy Unleash your... Read more
Spotify 0.9.8.296. - Stream music, creat...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue... Read more
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.475 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
S.M.A.R.T. for USB and FireWire Drives 0...
S.M.A.R.T. for USB and FireWire Drives is a kernel driver for OS X external usb or firewire drives. It extends the standard driver behaviour by providing access to drive smart data. The interface to... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile Review
RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile Review By Jennifer Allen on April 16th, 2014 Our Rating: :: DISAPPOINTINGLY WEAKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad The RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise finally comes to iOS, but it’s a rather... | Read more »
148Apps Live on Twitch: Pivvot’s Looper...
On our latest Twitch stream, we’ll be playing a pair of minimalist arcade games, one that just got a big content update in Pivvot, and another that was inspired by it in 15 Coins. Whitaker Trebella, creator of Pivvot, will discuss the new modes... | Read more »
Word Cubes Review
Word Cubes Review By Jordan Minor on April 15th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SQUARESVILLEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Word Cubes is fine, but it is barely any different from any other word game.   | Read more »
PAX East 2014 – Desert Fox: The Battle o...
PAX East 2014 – Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein is Coming to iOS Soon Posted by Rob Rich on April 15th, 2014 [ permalink ] Shenandoah Studio has become one of the go-to developers for war games on iOS, with | Read more »
Tank of Tanks Review
Tank of Tanks Review By Carter Dotson on April 15th, 2014 Our Rating: :: TANKS A LOT!iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad This multiplayer game played on a single iPad is simple, chaotic fun.   | Read more »
PAX East 2014 – Dungeon of the Endless J...
PAX East 2014 – Dungeon of the Endless Just Might Have a Shot at an iPad Release Posted by Rob Rich on April 15th, 2014 [ permalink ] I think it’s fair to say that | Read more »
SideSwype Review
SideSwype Review By Carter Dotson on April 15th, 2014 Our Rating: :: ON YOUR SIDEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad SideSwype is a puzzler that takes inspiration from Threes, but becomes its own incredibly fun game.   | Read more »
PAX East 2014 – Bigfoot Hunter Invites P...
PAX East 2014 – Bigfoot Hunter Invites Players on a Wild and Wooly Photo Safari Posted by Rob Rich on April 15th, 2014 [ permalink ] Yeti. Sasquatch. Wendigo. | Read more »
Dungeon Quest Review
Dungeon Quest Review By Cata Modorcea on April 15th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NO STORY, BUT GOOD FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Dungeon Quest does a lot of things right, but ultimately forgets about one of the core... | Read more »
Tempo AI and Speek Join Forces to “Kill...
Tempo AI and Speek Join Forces to “Kill the Conference Call PIN” Posted by Rob Rich on April 15th, 2014 [ permalink ] Today Tempo AI, makers of Tempo Smart Calendar, and | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Download our app, iTracx, for iOS and Android
MacPrices is proud to offer readers a free iOS app (iPhones, iPads, & iPod touch) and Android app (Google Play and Amazon App Store) called iTracx, which allows you to glance at today’s lowest... Read more
Education discounts shave up to $300 off the...
Purchase a new Mac at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and all... Read more
Save $50 on Mac mini Server
B&H Photo has the 2012 Mac mini Server on sale for $949 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP. Read more
PhatWare’s “Ultimate Writing App For iOS” Ren...
PhatWare Corp. has announced it has renamed its new WritePro word processing app for iPhone and iPad: WritePad Pro. The decision to change the app’s name to leverages the strong brand awareness and... Read more
Full Resolution Photo Editor Tint Mint 1.0 Re...
California based independent developer, Jeffrey Sun, creator of the iOS app Modern Editor, has released Tint Mint, a new photography app for editing enthusiasts. The app costs a dollar, and it packs... Read more
16GB iPad mini (Apple refurbished) available...
The Apple Store has refurbished 1st generation 16GB iPad minis available for $249 including free shipping. Both black and white models are available. Read more
Save $120 on the 27-inch 3.2GHz Haswell iMac
B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.2GHz iMac on sale for $1679.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is about $120 off MSRP. Read more
Using a Mac Doesn’t Eliminate The Heartbleed...
Low End Mac’s Dan Knight notes that any time you visit a website with an https: prefix or see that secure lock icon on your browser, some type of security software is busy trying to protect your data... Read more
AirPrint Basics Tutorial Posted
A new Apple Knowledge Base article helps get you started using AirPrint, the Apple protocol that enables instant printing from iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac without the need to install drivers or... Read more
Speed Tips For Running LibreOffice On The Mac
LibreOffice is my favorite of several free, open-source application suites, and the one I have configured on my Mac as my default app for Word documents that one frequently has to deal with. It also... Read more

Jobs Board

*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
*Apple* Retail - Market Leader - Cincinnati...
…challenges of developing individuals, building teams, and affecting growth across Apple Stores. You demonstrate successful leadership ability - focusing on excellence Read more
*Apple* Retail - Manager - SoHo - Apple (Uni...
Job SummaryKeeping an Apple Store thriving requires a diverse set of leadership skills, and as a Manager, you're a master of them all. In the store's fast-paced, dynamic Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** Every day, business customers come to the Apple Store to discover what powerful, easy-to-use Apple products can do for them. As a Business Leader, Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…challenges of developing individuals, building teams, and affecting growth across Apple Stores. You demonstrate successful leadership ability - focusing on excellence Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.