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.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

RapidWeaver 6.0.8 - Create template-base...
RapidWeaver is a next-generation Web design application to help you easily create professional-looking Web sites in minutes. No knowledge of complex code is required, RapidWeaver will take care of... Read more
Artlantis Studio 5.1.2.7 - 3D rendering...
Artlantis Studio is a unique and ideal tool for performing very high resolution rendering easily and in real time. The new FastRadiosity engine now lets you compute images in radiosity-even in... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.0.5 - Search and ins...
MacUpdate Desktop 6 brings seamless 1-click installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on macupdate.... Read more
BitTorrent Sync 2.0.82 - Sync files secu...
BitTorrent Sync allows you to sync unlimited files between your own devices, or share a folder with friends and family to automatically sync anything. File transfers are encrypted. Your information... Read more
Google Drive 1.20 - File backup and shar...
Google Drive is a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you're working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé, or... Read more
Simon 4.0.3 - Monitor changes and crashe...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
Vitamin-R 2.23 - Personal productivity t...
Vitamin-R creates the optimal conditions for your brain to work at its best by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly focused activity alternating with opportunities for... Read more
iDefrag 5.0.0 - Disk defragmentation and...
iDefrag helps defragment and optimize your disk for improved performance. Features include: Supports HFS and HFS+ (Mac OS Extended). Supports case sensitive and journaled filesystems. Supports... Read more
PCalc 4.2 - Full-featured scientific cal...
PCalc is a full-featured, scriptable scientific calculator with support for hexadecimal, octal, and binary calculations, as well as an RPN mode, programmable functions, and an extensive set of unit... Read more
FileZilla 3.10.2 - Fast and reliable FTP...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.10.2: Note: Now requires a 64-bit Intel processor.... Read more

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment A...
Warner Bros. has some exciting games coming down the pipe! | Read more »
GDC 2015 – Star Trek Timelines will Prob...
GDC 2015 – Star Trek Timelines will Probably Make Your Inner Trekkie Squeal With Glee Posted by Rob Rich on March 4th, 2015 [ permalink ] Any popular fictional universe has its fair share of fan fiction – where belo | Read more »
Protect Yourself from an Onslaught of Ca...
Surprise Attack Games has announced a Cat-astrophic new physics puzzler called Fort Meow! In the game, a young girl named Nia finds her grandfather’s journal which triggers an all mighty feline attack! Why do the cats want the journal? Who knows,... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – Jelly Reef will be Game Oven’...
GDC 2015 – Jelly Reef will be Game Oven’s Last Hurrah, and it Seems like a Good Note to Go Out on Posted by Rob Rich on March 4th, 2015 [ permalink ] It’s sad knowing that Game Oven ( | Read more »
daWindci Deluxe Review
daWindci Deluxe Review By Campbell Bird on March 4th, 2015 Our Rating: :: BLUSTERY PUZZLESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad This updated puzzle game offers some creative gameplay and new mechanics, but still suffers from... | Read more »
Dungeon Hunter 5 Coming on March 12
Gameloft has excitedly announced that Dungeon Hunter 5 is on its way! Once again, you will adventure across the land of Valenthia exploring dungeons and fighting monsters. The game will have a new asynchronous multiplayer mode called Strongholds... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – The Sandbox 2 is Coming, and...
GDC 2015 – The Sandbox 2 is Coming, and Now it has Textures! | Read more »
Warner Bros. Interactive Announces Mort...
Mortal Kombat X, by Warner Bros. and NetherRealm Studios, will be a a free-to-play fighting/card-battle Mortal Kombat game. The game promises card collecting, multiplayer team combat, classic characters such as Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Raiden, and the... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – Piloteer is Whitaker Trebella...
GDC 2015 – Piloteer is Whitaker Trebella’s Latest Project, and it’s Definitely Something DIfferent Posted by Rob Rich on March 3rd, 2015 [ permalink ] You know | Read more »
PangoLand Review
PangoLand Review By Amy Solomon on March 3rd, 2015 Our Rating: :: COME VISIT PANGO AND FRIENDSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad PangoLand is an open-ended world full of familiar characters, bright colors and interactive... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

iPad: A More Positive Outlook – The ‘Book Mys...
It’s good to hear someone saying positive things about the iPad. I’ve been trying to bend my mind around how Apple’s tablet could have gone from zero to bestselling personal computing device on the... Read more
Mac Pros on sale for up to $279 off MSRP
Amazon has Mac Pros in stock and on sale for up to $279 off MSRP. Shipping is free: - 4-Core Mac Pro: $2725.87, $273 off MSRP (9%) - 6-Core Mac Pro: $3719.99, $279 off MSRP (7%) Read more
Sale! 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $205 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.6GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1219.99 save $80 - 13″ 2.... Read more
Another Tranche Of IBM MobileFirst For iOS Ap...
IBM has announced the next expansion phase for  its IBM MobileFirst for iOS portfolio, with a troika of new apps to address key priorities for the Banking and Financial Services, Airline and Retail... Read more
Sale! 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $250 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $... Read more
WaterField Designs Introduces the Minimalist...
With Apple Pay gaining popularity, Android Pay coming in May 2015, and loyalty cards and receipts that can be accessed from smartphones, San Francisco’s WaterField Designs observes that it may be... Read more
Sale! 15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro for $...
 Best Buy has the 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1774.99 $1799.99, or $225 off MSRP. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price valid for online orders... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (refurbished) avai...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $170 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $100 o...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on...
 B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on sale for $2299 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for... 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* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…Summary** As a Specialist, you help create the energy and excitement around Apple products, providing the right solutions and getting products into customers' hands. You Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** The Apple Store is a retail environment like no other - uniquely focused on delivering amazing customer experiences. As an Expert, you introduce people Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.