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.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

HandBrake 1.0.2 - Versatile video encode...
HandBrake is a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs. Features Supported Sources VIDEO_TS folder, DVD image or real DVD (unencrypted... Read more
PhotoDesk 4.1.5 - Instagram client for p...
PhotoDesk lets you view, like, comment, and download Instagram pictures/videos. (NO Uploads! / Image Posting! Instagram forbids that! AND you need an existing Instagram account). But you can do so... Read more
Sound Studio 4.8.6 - Robust audio record...
Sound Studio lets you easily record and professionally edit audio on your Mac. Easily rip vinyls and digitize cassette tapes, or record lectures and voice memos. Prepare for live shows with live... Read more
Capo 3.5.1 - Slow down and learn to play...
Capo lets you slow down your favorite songs so you can hear the notes and learn how they are played. With Capo, you can quickly tab out your songs atop a highly-detailed OpenCL-powered spectrogram... Read more
Google Earth 7.1.8.3036 - View and contr...
Google Earth gives you a wealth of imagery and geographic information. Explore destinations like Maui and Paris, or browse content from Wikipedia, National Geographic, and more. Google Earth combines... Read more
QuickBooks 16.1.11.1556 R12 - Financial...
QuickBooks helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track money going in and out of your business, and spot areas where you can save. Built for... Read more
Google Earth 7.1.8.3036 - View and contr...
Google Earth gives you a wealth of imagery and geographic information. Explore destinations like Maui and Paris, or browse content from Wikipedia, National Geographic, and more. Google Earth combines... Read more
QuickBooks 16.1.11.1556 R12 - Financial...
QuickBooks helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track money going in and out of your business, and spot areas where you can save. Built for... Read more
FileZilla 3.24.0 - 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 3.24.0: New The context menu for remote file search... Read more
Bookends 12.7.8 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more

Super Mario Run dashes onto Android in M...
Super Mario Run was one of the biggest mobile launches in 2016 before it was met with a lukewarm response by many. While the game itself plays a treat, it's pretty hard to swallow the steep price for the full game. With that said, Android users... | Read more »
WarFriends Beginner's Guide: How to...
Chillingo's new game, WarFriends, is finally available world wide, and so far it's a refreshing change from common mobile game trends. The game's a mix of tower defense, third person shooter, and collectible card game. There's a lot to unpack here... | Read more »
Super Gridland (Entertainment)
Super Gridland 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Entertainment Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Match. Build. Survive. "exquisitely tuned" - Rock Paper Shotgun No in-app purches, and no ads! | Read more »
Red's Kingdom (Games)
Red's Kingdom 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Mad King Mac has kidnapped your father and stolen your golden nut! Solve puzzles and battle goons as you explore and battle your... | Read more »
Turbo League Guide: How to tame the cont...
| Read more »
Fire Emblem: Heroes coming to Google Pla...
Nintendo gave us our first look at Fire Emblem: Heroes, the upcoming mobile Fire Emblem game the company hinted at last year. Revealed at the Fire Emblem Direct event held today, the game will condense the series' tactical RPG combat into bite-... | Read more »
ReSlice (Music)
ReSlice 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Audio Slice Machine Slice your audio samples with ReSlice and create flexible musical atoms which can be triggered by MIDI notes or... | Read more »
Stickman Surfer rides in with the tide t...
Stickson is back and this time he's taken up yet another extreme sport - surfing. Stickman Surfer is out this Thursday on both iOS and Android, so if you've been following the other Stickman adventures, you might be interested in picking this one... | Read more »
Z-Exemplar (Games)
Z-Exemplar 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
5 dastardly difficult roguelikes like th...
Edmund McMillen's popular roguelike creation The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has finally crawled onto mobile devices. It's a grotesque dual-stick shooter that tosses you into an endless, procedurally generated basement as you, the pitiable Isaac,... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

12-inch 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook on s...
Amazon has the 2016 12″ 1.2GHz/512GB Space Gray Retina MacBook (Apple model #MLH82LL/A) on sale for $1299.99 including free shipping. Their price is $300 off MSRP. Read more
Twelve South Releases RelaxedLeather Cases fo...
Inspired by the laid-back luxury of burnished leather boots and crafted in rich tones of taupe, herb and marsala, RelaxedLeather cases deliver smart, easy protection for the iPhone 7. Each genuine... Read more
Week’s Best Deal: New 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz Mac...
Amazon has the new 2016 13″ 2.0GHz non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for a limited time for $225 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro, Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1274.99 $225 off... Read more
Back in stock: Apple refurbished Mac minis fr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Apple Ranked ‘Most Intimate Brand’
The top ranked ‘”intimate” brands continued to outperform the S&P and Fortune 500 indices in revenue and profit over the past 10 years, according to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2017 Report, the largest... Read more
B-Eng introduces SSD Health Check for Mac OS
Fehraltorf, Switzerland based independant Swiss company- B-Eng has announced the release and immediate availability of SSD Health Check 1.0, the company’s new hard drive utility for Mac OS X. As the... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free: -... Read more
4-core 3.7GHz Mac Pro on sale for $2290, save...
Guitar Center has the 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro (MD253LL/A) on sale for $2289.97 including free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Their price is a $710 savings over standard MSRP for... Read more
128GB Apple iPad Air 2, refurbished, availabl...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 128GB iPad Air 2s WiFis available for $419 including free shipping. That’s an $80 savings over standard MSRP for this model. A standard Apple one-year warranty is... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina Apple MacBook Pro on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro (MF839LL/A): $... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* macOS Systems Integration Administra...
…most exceptional support available in the industry. SCI is seeking an Junior Apple macOS systems integration administrator that will be responsible for providing Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Deer Pa...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Technician - nfrastructure (United S...
Let’s Work Together Apple Technician This position is based in Portland, ME Life at nfrastructure At nfrastructure, we understand that our success results from our Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**467692BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Location Number:** 000602-Columbia MO-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Mobile Master Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.