TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Oct 98 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: Viewpoint

October 1998 Viewpoint

by Nicholas C. "nick.c" DeMello, editor@mactech.com

When I was in high school, I wasn't really interested in computers. But, somewhere along the way I did learn BASIC and I had a lot of fun with it. In college, someone took the time to explain to me that BASIC wasn't a real programming language, that if I wanted to get serious about programming I needed to learn Pascal. For some reason, I bought that, and went off to figure out Pascal. Eventually, I migrated on to C, then C++, and I am now making periodic forays into Java. I've come to form the opinion that all these languages are the right tools for certain jobs - except BASIC, which I never gave more thought (after all, it wasn't a real programming language).

Recently, I came across an exciting program that is selling well in a niche market. The folks who created it are making a comfortable living selling this professional software, and asked me for some feedback about the feasibility of porting their program to the Macintosh. They sent me the code, I popped open the archive and found... BASIC.

Well, I guess the conclusion here is obvious, these folks had missed or ignored the wisdom that was imparted to me on what constitutes a real programming language, and gone out and built a professional, popular program that they make a living from. Amazing what you can do when you don't know that you're not supposed to be able to do it. It kind of reminded me of two guys in a garage building a computer company, despite common sense. It definitely reminded me of all those times that folks suggested I get rid of my Macintosh and buy a real computer.

So, properly chastised, I've been taking another look at BASIC.

BASIC on the Macintosh is in good shape these days. We're reviewing a new BASIC development system called REALbasic in this issue (it looks good), and we're planning on reviewing other BASIC products in upcoming issues. Future BASIC II was a finalist at the Macworld awards this year, Mainstay recently released version 2.5 of VIP-BASIC, and Visual MacStandardBASIC is currently one of the hottest selling development products I've seen in a long time. There are plenty of tools out there for using BASIC on the Macintosh. When you consider how easy BASIC is to learn, and how quickly you can start turning out applications with it, it's not at all surprising that BASIC is one of the most popular computer languages of all time. Next time I need to create an application or utility, I'm going to give some serious thought to whether or not BASIC might offer a quicker, and equally effective way to generate a solution.

It seems these days that folks are starting to appreciate a lot of simple solutions, which aren't classically thought of as real, iron-man programming. AppleScript is another example.

The AppleScript Developers kit (AppleScript 1.0), was first released in May of '93, but it wasn't until late in '93 that it shipped with a Mac OS release (System 7 Pro). Version 1.1 came out in early '94, and was later included with the System in 7.5. Then things seemed to coast for a while. My guess is that Apple was waiting to see if developers would bite, and developers were waiting to see if Apple would drop it. Developers have begun supporting AppleScript in their applications, cautiously, but continuously. I guess we hit critical mass at some point, because things picked up at Apple around July '97. The finder was made scriptable with Mac OS 8, which also included the first public release of AppleScript since early '94 (AppleScript 1.1.2). Now things seem to be speeding up. In 8.5, we're expecting a fully native AppleScript engine which looks like it will offer a ten fold runtime speed.

AppleScript has often been referred to as Apple's best-kept secret. One of the reasons it was created was to allow users to automate and control their workspace with easy to use, easy to understand scripts. Unfortunately, users didn't seem to get the message. While AppleScript has been around since '93, for years I've gotten confused expressions from users when I mentioned it, and downright shocked expressions when I told them a given application required it. It's taken a long time, but it's starting to look like Apple's little secret is coming out.

Apple had an entire section of their '98 New York Macworld booth dedicated to AppleScript (it may have been hard to spot, there was this constant crowd of folks around it blocking all the signs). Also, I've noticed that more and more applications these days are not just scriptable, but are replacing, or supplementing parts of the program that were written in C with "scripts" menus (for example the AppleScript menu in MailSmith or DragThing).

As someone who grew up in a Unix world, I'm intrigued by the trend. I can see a lot of reasons for it. AppleScript, like BASIC, is (IMHO) a lot quicker to write than C, quicker development means faster to market. It's also more flexible, and allows you to modify code after the compile (in much the same way resources let you modify data after compile time). Using both languages in the app means that you can choose where you need the speed of a compiled function, and where you can use the flexibility of an interpreted script. But, perhaps the most intriguing part is that it allows you to share and exchange scripts in much the same way OpenDoc promised the ability to share and exchange part handlers (the same way a dozen Unix programs might use the same program to edit text). Finally, extensions are going to be a real problem in system 8.5, with its protected memory. AppleScript just might offer the solution to many of the problems we rely on extensions for now (program initialization, system modification, and interapplication communication - for example).

I guess the bottom line is that I've learned something about what defines a real programming language, and gained a new respect for, and interest in BASIC and AppleScript. That new definition: whatever works.

 
AAPL
$105.22
Apple Inc.
+0.39
MSFT
$46.13
Microsoft Corpora
+1.11
GOOG
$539.78
Google Inc.
-4.20

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Ember 1.8.2 - Versatile digital scrapboo...
Ember (formerly LittleSnapper) is your digital scrapbook of things that inspire you: websites, photos, apps or other things. Just drag in images that you want to keep, organize them into relevant... Read more
Tonality Pro 1.1.2 - Professional-grade...
Tonality Pro gives you the power to create stunning and dramatic black & white images. This is a complete monochrome image editor with more than 150 one-click style presets, totally unique... Read more
VueScan 9.4.49 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
OS X Server 4.0 - For OS X 10.10 Yosemit...
Designed for OS X and iOS devices, OS X Server makes it easy to share files, schedule meetings, synchronize contacts, develop software, host your own website, publish wikis, configure Mac, iPhone,... Read more
TotalFinder 1.6.12 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Tab-based... Read more
BusyCal 2.6.3 - Powerful calendar app wi...
BusyCal is an award-winning desktop calendar that combines personal productivity features for individuals with powerful calendar sharing capabilities for families and workgroups. BusyCal's unique... Read more
calibre 2.7 - Complete e-library managem...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital... Read more
Skitch 2.7.3 - Take screenshots, annotat...
With Skitch, taking, annotating, and sharing screenshots or images is as fun as it is simple.Communicate and collaborate with images using Skitch and its intuitive, engaging drawing and annotating... Read more
Delicious Library 3.3.2 - Import, browse...
Delicious Library allows you to import, browse, and share all your books, movies, music, and video games with Delicious Library. Run your very own library from your home or office using our... Read more
Art Text 2.4.8 - Create high quality hea...
Art Text is an OS X application for creating high quality textual graphics, headings, logos, icons, Web site elements, and buttons. Thanks to multi-layer support, creating complex graphics is no... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rami Ismail Opens Up distribute​() for D...
Rami Ismail Opens Up distribute​() for Developers Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] Rami Ismail, Chief Executive of Business and Development at indie game studio | Read more »
Great Hitman GO Goes on Sale and Gets Ne...
Great Hitman GO Goes on Sale and Gets New Update – Say That Three Times Fast Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Rival Stars Basketball Review
Rival Stars Basketball Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: RESTRICTIVE BUT FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rival Stars Basketball is a fun mixture of basketball and card collecting but its... | Read more »
Rubicon Development Makes Over a Dozen o...
Rubicon Development Makes Over a Dozen of Their Games Free For This Weekend Only Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
I Am Dolphin Review
I Am Dolphin Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEARLY FIN-TASTICUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Swim around and eat nearly everything that moves in I Am Dolphin, a fun Ecco-ish kind of game... | Read more »
nPlayer looks to be the ultimate choice...
Developed by Newin Inc, nPlayer may seem like your standard video player – but is aiming to be the best in its field by providing high quality video play performance and support for a huge number of video formats and codecs. User reviews include... | Read more »
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Wi...
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CLASSY STORYTELLINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch is a sterling... | Read more »
A Few Days Left (Games)
A Few Days Left 1.01 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: Screenshots are in compliance to App Store's 4+ age rating! Please see App Preview for real game play! **Important: Make... | Read more »
Toca Boo (Education)
Toca Boo 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: BOO! Did I scare you!? My name is Bonnie and my family loves to spook! Do you want to scare them back? Follow me and I'll... | Read more »
Intuon (Games)
Intuon 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Join the battle with your intuition in a new hardcore game Intuon! How well do you trust your intuition? Can you find a needle in a... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Weekend sale: 13-inch 128GB MacBook Air for $...
Best Buy has the 2014 13-inch 1.4GHz 128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849.99, or $150 off MSRP, on their online store. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price valid... Read more
Nimbus Note Cross=Platform Notes Utility
Nimbus Note will make sure you never forget or lose your valuable data again. Create and edit notes, save web pages, screenshots and any other type of data – and share it all with your friends and... Read more
NewerTech’s Snuglet Makes MagSafe 2 Power Con...
NewerTech has introduced the Snuglet, a precision-manufactured ring designed to sit inside your MagSafe 2 connector port, providing a more snug fit to prevent your power cable from unintentional... Read more
Apple Planning To Sacrifice Gross Margins To...
Digitimes Research’s Jim Hsiao says its analysts believe Apple is planning to sacrifice its gross margins to save its tablet business, which has recently fallen into decline. They project that Apple’... Read more
Who’s On Now? – First Instant-Connect Search...
It’s nighttime and your car has broken down on the side of the highway. You need a tow truck right away, so you open an app on your iPhone, search for the closest tow truck and send an instant... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $949,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $949.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $150 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Save up to $125 on Retina MacBook Pros
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $125 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple refurbished Time Capsules available sta...
The Apple Store has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for up to $60 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $255... Read more
Textilus New Word, Notes and PDF Processor fo...
Textilus is new word-crunching, notes, and PDF processor designed exclusively for the iPad. I haven’t had time to thoroughly check it out yet, but it looks great and early reviews are positive.... Read more
WD My Passport Pro Bus-Powered Thunderbolt RA...
WD’s My Passport Pro RAID solution is powered by an integrated Thunderbolt cable for true portability and speeds as high as 233 MB/s. HighlightsOverviewSpecifications Transfer, Back Up And Edit In... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple Inc. (U...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*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
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.