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
$96.13
Apple Inc.
+0.53
MSFT
$42.86
Microsoft Corpora
-0.30
GOOG
$566.07
Google Inc.
-5.53

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Data Rescue 3.2.4 - Recover lost data on...
Data Rescue is a robust and reliable hard-drive recovery solution for your Mac. Recover lost or deleted files, mount corrupted drives, and more -- Data Rescue offers complete relief from crippling... Read more
Adobe Lightroom 5.6 - Import, develop, a...
Adobe Lightroom software helps you bring out the best in your photographs, whether you're perfecting one image, searching for ten, processing hundreds, or organizing thousands. Create incredible... Read more
OneNote 15.2 - Free digital notebook fro...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that’s too important to forget. Whether you’re at... Read more
iStat Menus 4.22 - Monitor your system r...
iStat Menus lets you monitor your system right from the menubar. Included are 8 menu extras that let you monitor every aspect of your system. Some features: CPU -- Monitor cpu usage. 7 display... Read more
Ember 1.8 - Versatile digital scrapbook....
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
OmniPlan 2.3.6 - Robust project manageme...
With OmniPlan, you can create logical, manageable project plans with Gantt charts, schedules, summaries, milestones, and critical paths. Break down the tasks needed to make your project a success,... Read more
Command-C 1.1.1 - Clipboard sharing tool...
Command-C is a revolutionary app which makes easy to share your clipboard between iOS and OS X using your local WiFi network, even if the app is not currently opened. Copy anything (text, pictures,... Read more
Knock 1.1.7 - Unlock your Mac by knockin...
Knock is a faster, safer way to sign in. You keep your iPhone with you all the time. Now you can use it as a password. You never have to open the app -- just knock on your phone twice, even when it's... Read more
Mellel 3.3.6 - Powerful word processor w...
Mellel is the leading word processor for OS X and has been widely considered the industry standard since its inception. Mellel focuses on writers and scholars for technical writing and multilingual... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.0.4 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Bio Inc. is $0.99 for the Weekend, Recei...
Bio Inc. is $0.99 for the Weekend, Receives Small Update Posted by Ellis Spice on August 1st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Happy 7th Birthday Readdle! Thank You fo...
Happy 7th Birthday Readdle! | Read more »
Sharknado: The Video Game Review
Sharknado: The Video Game Review By Lee Hamlet on August 1st, 2014 Our Rating: :: SHARKNA-DON'TUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Sharknado: The Video Game brings the craziness of the movies to iOS, though it quickly... | Read more »
Clima (Weather)
Clima 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Weather Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Clima show you all weather information, just beautifully simple. A series of color bars can tell you at a glance exactly current... | Read more »
Sticky Soccer Review
Sticky Soccer Review By Andrew Fisher on August 1st, 2014 Our Rating: :: STICK THIS GAMEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Sticky Soccer puts too much emphasis on the ‘sticky’ and not enough on the ‘Soccer’ or ‘Fun’.   | Read more »
Graphics-less Apocalyptic Adventure A Da...
Graphics-less Apocalyptic Adventure A Dark Room Goes Free for a Limited Time Posted by Rob Rich on August 1st, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Fraud Tycoon Review
Fraud Tycoon Review By Rob Thomas on August 1st, 2014 Our Rating: :: UNHEALTHY CREDITUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Fraud Tycoon is a half-baked, messy, promotional tie-in that does their sponsor no favors whatsoever... | Read more »
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal W...
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon is on Sale for the Weekend Posted by Rob Rich on August 1st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Mister Beam Review
Mister Beam Review By Jordan Minor on August 1st, 2014 Our Rating: :: ILLUMINATINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Mister Beam’s puzzles are great. But its platforming? Not so much.   | Read more »
Hook Some More Fun With MapHook’s New Up...
Hook Some More Fun With MapHook’s New Update Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 1st, 2014 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSR...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ MacBook Airs on sale $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels Desktop and LoJack for... Read more
16GB iPad Air on sale for $399, save $100
Best Buy is offering the 16GB WiFi iPad Air for $399.99 on their online store for a limited time. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free store pickup (if available). Price is for... Read more
All Over For Tablets Or Just A Maturing, Evol...
CNN’s David Goldman weighs in on tablet sector doom and gloom, asking rhetorically: “Is this the beginning of the end for the tablet?” Answering that, he contends that hysteria and panic are... Read more
Letterspace 1.0.1 – New Free iOS Text Editor...
Bangkok, Thailand based independent developer Sittipon Simasanti has released Letterspace, a new text editor for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices. Letterspace is a note taking app with an... Read more
Save up to $130 on an iPad mini with Apple re...
The Apple Store has Certified Refurbished 2nd generation iPad minis with Retina Displays available for up to $130 off the cost of new models, starting at $339. Apple’s one-year warranty is included... Read more
iPad Cannibalization Threat “Overblown”
Seeking Alpha’s Kevin Greenhalgh observes that while many commentators think Apple’s forthcoming 5.5-inch panel iPhone 6 will cannibalize iPad sales, in his estimation, these concerns are being... Read more
Primate Labs Releases July 2014 MacBook Pro P...
Primate Labs’ John Poole has posted Geekbench 3 results for most of the new MacBook Pro models that Apple released on Tuesday. Poole observes that overall performance improvements for the new MacBook... Read more
Apple Re-Releases Bugfixed MacBook Air EFI Fi...
Apple has posted a bugfixed version EFI Firmware Update 2.9 a for MacBook Air (Mid 2011) models. The update addresses an issue where systems may take longer to wake from sleep than expected, and... Read more
Save $50 on the 2.5GHz Mac mini, plus free sh...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Save up to $140 on an iPad Air with Apple ref...
Apple is offering Certified Refurbished iPad Airs for up to $140 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Stock tends to come and go with some of these... Read more

Jobs Board

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
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** At the Apple Store, you connect business professionals and entrepreneurs with the tools they need in order to put Apple solutions to work in their Read more
*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
Sr. Product Leader, *Apple* Store Apps - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.