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Jan 99 Online

Volume Number: 15 (1999)
Issue Number: 1
Column Tag: MacTech Online

Stocking Your Toolbox

by Jeff Clites <>

The Toolbox was one of the early strengths of the Macintosh platform. From the beginning, it has armed programmers with an assortment of routines to make their job easier. Even so, there are those time when you wish the Toolbox went just a little further, or helped you out in just one more area. This month we are going to look at some third-party goodies which fill in the gaps.


TextEdit, the Mac's built-in text-handling package, is great for simple text-handling, but everyone is aware of its limitations - the most important one being that it can't handle more than 32K of text. Fortunately for all of us, Marco Piovanelli stepped up and create WASTE, the WorldScript-Aware Styled Text Engine. It can handle larger stretches of text, limited only by available memory, but its enhancements don't stop there. As its name implies, it is WorldScript savvy; it also supports tab stops, drag-and-drop, and embedded objects. It comes with an instructive demo application and Inside Macintosh-style documentation, and it is the basis of the its author's Style text editor, which shows off its features nicely. The WASTE API is modeled closely after TextEdit itself, and accordingly the programmer needs to be familiar with the standard Mac text editing routines in order to get the most out of WASTE. For those who want a direct comparison, the best place to look is in the source code for the SIOUX console window, which is part of Metrowerks' CodeWarrior. It has both a TextEdit and a WASTE implementation together in one file, making it easy to see how they correspond.

The WASTE Page

Timothy Paustian, author of the CWASTEEdit PowerPlant wrapper class for WASTE, has written a text engine of his own, the WTTextEngine (or WT++). It is still under development, and is entirely C++ based, so it's handy for those who prefer a completely object-oriented alternative. The package includes an example application which demonstrates adding multiple undo, drag-and-drop, and AppleScript support to the engine.



I first ran across Kyle Hammond's web pages on the trail of something known as the A List. The A List is Kyle's replacement for the Toolbox's List Manager. Unlike the List Manager, it supports cut, copy, paste, and drag-and-drop, and very large lists (for those hopefully rare occasions where it is appropriate to display a huge list using this sort of UI element). Also, since it's not an LDEF it ends up being much faster than the List Manager (which still contains emulated code), and it's more flexible. For instance, it supports the use of callbacks for drawing, highlighting, and disposing of cell data, so it is easy to supply your own routines to display lists of non-text data.

Kyle's site also has a few more handy pieces of code to help you with your interface. First there is GetMultiple, a function which uses CustomGetFile to allow users to select more than one file at a time, with an interface modeled after CodeWarrior's "Add Multiple..." command. This may be partially superceded by Navigation Services, but the usual problems of backward compatibility will render it useful for a while to come. A second set of functions, EditTextCntlExtras, help with the handling of Appearance Manager editable text controls, and there are a few other interesting things there as well. It's definitely a site worth checking out. (And generously, Kyle has made all of this code available for free.)

Kyle Hammond's Mac Programming Page

The Universal PPP API

It is annoyingly involved to monitor and change the state of a PPP connection, because each PPP driver (OT/PPP, FreePPP, etc.) has its own interface to do this. Luckily for us, the details have been sweated out for us by Sailmaker Software. They have written the Universal PPP API, which implements a wrapper around the various PPP interfaces, so you don't have to worry about which PPP software your user is running, even if they change it without restarting your application. It is shareware, and is distributed as a binary library (callable from C, C++ and Pascal); the source code is available for an additional charge.

The Universal PPP API


The MoreFiles distribution is such an essential collection of routines that you have to wonder why it isn't just rolled into the Mac OS itself. MoreFiles is written by Jim Luther, and grew out of his experiences working for Apple Developer Technical Support. It contains routines for doing just about anything you might want to do with files on the Mac, but which the OS doesn't already do for you - things such as getting the full path to a file (which you should really really avoid doing except for display purposes) or iterating through a folder hierarchy. If you need to do something with the file system and you don't know how to do it, look here first. You will either see that it has already been done for you, or you'll find some useful sample code which does something similar. It is available at most Macintosh archives, but its home is on Jim Luther's curiously ftp-based web page.

Jim Luther

These and rivers of other links are available from the MacTech Online web pages at


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