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
$99.76
Apple Inc.
+2.09
MSFT
$44.08
Microsoft Corpora
+0.45
GOOG
$520.84
Google Inc.
+9.67

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Macgo Blu-ray Player 2.10.9.1750 - Blu-r...
Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can bring you the most unforgettable Blu-ray experience on your Mac. Overview Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can satisfy just about every need you could possibly have in a Blu-ray... Read more
Apple iOS 8.1 - The latest version of Ap...
The latest version of iOS can be downloaded through iTunes. Apple iOS 8 comes with big updates to apps you use every day, like Messages and Photos. A whole new way to share content with your family.... Read more
TechTool Pro 7.0.5 - Hard drive and syst...
TechTool Pro is now 7, and this is the most advanced version of the acclaimed Macintosh troubleshooting utility created in its 20-year history. Micromat has redeveloped TechTool Pro 7 to be fully 64... Read more
PDFKey Pro 4.0.2 - Edit and print passwo...
PDFKey Pro can unlock PDF documents protected for printing and copying when you've forgotten your password. It can now also protect your PDF files with a password to prevent unauthorized access and/... Read more
Yasu 2.9.1 - System maintenance app; per...
Yasu was originally created with System Administrators who service large groups of workstations in mind, Yasu (Yet Another System Utility) was made to do a specific group of maintenance tasks... Read more
Hazel 3.3 - Create rules for organizing...
Hazel is your personal housekeeper, organizing and cleaning folders based on rules you define. Hazel can also manage your trash and uninstall your applications. Organize your files using a... Read more
Autopano Giga 3.7 - Stitch multiple imag...
Autopano Giga allows you to stitch 2, 20, or 2,000 images. Version 3.0 integrates impressive new features that will definitely make you adopt Autopano Pro or Autopano Giga: Choose between 9... Read more
MenuMeters 1.8 - CPU, memory, disk, and...
MenuMeters is a set of CPU, memory, disk, and network monitoring tools for Mac OS X. Although there are numerous other programs which do the same thing, none had quite the feature set I was looking... Read more
Coda 2.5 - One-window Web development su...
Coda is a powerful Web editor that puts everything in one place. An editor. Terminal. CSS. Files. With Coda 2, we went beyond expectations. With loads of new, much-requested features, a few... Read more
Arq 4.6.1 - Online backup to Google Driv...
Arq is super-easy online backup for the Mac. Back up to your own Google Drive storage (15GB free storage), your own Amazon Glacier ($.01/GB per month storage) or S3, or any SFTP server. Arq backs up... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

This Week at 148Apps: October 13-17, 201...
Expert App Reviewers   So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just... | Read more »
Angry Birds Transformers Review
Angry Birds Transformers Review By Jennifer Allen on October 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: TRANSFORMED BIRDSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Transformed in a way you wouldn’t expect, Angry Birds Transformers is a quite... | Read more »
GAMEVIL Announces the Upcoming Launch of...
GAMEVIL Announces the Upcoming Launch of Mark of the Dragon Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 20th, 2014 [ permalink ] Mark of the Dragon, by GAMEVIL, put | Read more »
Interview With the Angry Birds Transform...
Angry Birds Transformers recently transformed and rolled out worldwide. This run-and-gun title is a hit with young Transformers fans, but the ample references to classic Transformers fandom has also earned it a place in the hearts of long-time... | Read more »
Find Free Food on Campus with Ypay
Find Free Food on Campus with Ypay Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 20th, 2014 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »
Strung Along Review
Strung Along Review By Jordan Minor on October 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: GOT NO STRINGSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A cool gimmick and a great art style keep Strung Along from completely falling apart.   | Read more »
P2P file transferring app Send Anywhere...
File sharing services like Dropbox have security issues. Email attachments can be problematic when it comes to sharing large files. USB dongles don’t fit into your phone. Send Anywhere, a peer-to-peer file transferring application, solves all of... | Read more »
Zero Age Review
Zero Age Review By Jordan Minor on October 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MORE THAN ZEROiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad With its mind-bending puzzles and spellbinding visuals, Zero Age has it all.   | Read more »
Hay Ewe Review
Hay Ewe Review By Campbell Bird on October 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SAVE YOUR SHEEPLEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Pave the way for your flock in this line drawing puzzle game from the creators of Worms.   | Read more »
My Very Hungry Caterpillar (Education)
My Very Hungry Caterpillar 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Care for your very own Very Hungry Caterpillar! My Very Hungry Caterpillar will captivate you as he crawls... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

2013 15-inch 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro availa...
B&H Photo has leftover previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros now available for $1599 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $400 off original MSRP. B&H... Read more
Updated iPad Prices
We’ve updated our iPad Air Price Tracker and our iPad mini Price Tracker with the latest information on prices and availability from Apple and other resellers, including the new iPad Air 2 and the... Read more
Apple Pay Available to Millions of Visa Cardh...
Visa Inc. brings secure, convenient payments to iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3as well as iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Starting October 20th, eligible Visa cardholders in the U.S. will be able to use Apple Pay,... Read more
Textkraft Pocket – the missing TextEdit for i...
infovole GmbH has announced the release and immediate availability of Textkraft Pocket 1.0, a professional text editor and note taking app for Apple’s iPhone. In March 2014 rumors were all about... Read more
C Spire to offer iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3,...
C Spire on Friday announced that it will offer iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, both with Wi-Fi + Cellular, on its 4G+ LTE network in the coming weeks. C Spire will offer the new iPads with a range of... Read more
Belkin Announces Full Line of Keyboards and C...
Belkin International has unveiled a new lineup of keyboard cases and accessories for Apple’s newest iPads, featuring three QODE keyboards and a collection of thin, lightweight folios for both the... Read more
Verizon offers new iPad Air 2 preorders for $...
Verizon Wireless is accepting preorders for the new iPad Air 2, cellular models, for $100 off MSRP with a 2-year service agreement: - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi + Cellular: $529.99 - 64GB iPad Air 2 WiFi... Read more
Price drops on refurbished Mac minis, now ava...
The Apple Store has dropped prices on Apple Certified Refurbished previous-generation Mac minis, with models now available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and... Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Refurbished 2013 MacBook Pros available for u...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros available starting at $929. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros (4GB RAM/... Read more

Jobs Board

*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
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…customers purchase our products, you're the one who helps them get more out of their new Apple technology. Your day in the Apple Store is filled with a range of 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
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** As businesses discover the power of Apple computers and mobile devices, it's your job - as a Solutions Engineer - to show them how to introduce these Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.