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HyperCard: Programming for the masses?

Anyone have direct experience with HyperCard?  Most of the talk is coming from non-programmers. Was it really "programming for the rest of us"?  Is it really that good?  Why won't Apple commercialize it, make it a success, and wait for Microsoft to clone it?

http://radio.weblogs.com/0100812/2002/08/15.html#a576

http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,54370,00.html

Diego
Monday, August 19, 2002

Microsoft already did come up with a alternative.

It is called PowerPoint. is it not?

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Monday, August 19, 2002

The school our kids went to used to teach it, but we convinced them to switch to flash. It is about like flash 3-4. Like most of that type of programming software, its great until you want to something unlike the demo programs, then it kind of falls down suddenly. It is reasonable for schools, but it really doesn't teach you much about programming either, you could implement most of its functionality with a few wizards.

To its credit, it would have been one of the very first of that type of program, not sure of the exact history there, but it is very old.

Robin Debreuil
Monday, August 19, 2002

I remember using HyperCard for my Master's project a long while ago.  I used it to create a simple prototype of an unusual interface.

I would say some of its best features were:
1) A simple programming language that was not too disimilar to normal english.  For example, "move red square to right screen".
2) It actually allowed you to do some system level programming with very simple commands.  For example, you could create a button that would launch another programme on your Mac by adding some simple script along the lines of "Do MacMenu Applications NotePad"
3) It had some fairly spiffy functions that let you do some fairly complicated stuff easily

Oh, and it was fun.  It was one of the earliest multimedia systems and as such at the time seemed really cool.  I can remember the thrill of being easily able to play video, use sound, do some fairly good interactivity.  I guess the thrill was similar to that non-technical people got when web tools let them easily create their first home page.

Sherlock

sherlock_yoda
Monday, August 19, 2002

Wasn't Myst written with hypercard?

Mike Grace
Monday, August 19, 2002

Robin and Albert's comments .

There is a group of non-Apple products that fall into the HyperCard family. Here is a short, non-exhaustive list:

Metacard http://www.metacard.com
Revolution  http://www.runrev.com
Toolbook http://www.click2learn.com

Most (if not all) of these products extend the features/functionality of HyperCard, and let you perform platform-specific programming. That is how more sophisticated apps (Myst, etc.) are developed.

My personal "programming language for the masses" is Rebol http://www.rebol.com , a network-savvy functional language with power and simplicity.

When you think about it, HyperCard and similar tools are an interesting option. Write a full, rich application in 3 or 4 days, with fewer than 2k lines of code to understand and maintain.

I hope these types of tools make an impact. It would inject a good dose of sensibility/reality back into software development.  Sadly, programmers balk at this, because their egos are bolstered by managing complexity (UML, OOP, apects, XP, etc.)

IMHO, simple development tools/platforms might save some programming jobs from going overseas. 'Cuz dude, if your app is going to require 3 people and a year to get a beta release together, it won't be long before the boss realizes it can be done much cheaper in another part of the world.

Dusty Bottoms
Monday, August 19, 2002

I used to use Hypercard a lot when it first came out, which I think was in the late 1980s - mainly for the sort of thing I'd use a Palm Pilot for these days - address book, calendar, and so on. It seemed brilliant at the time, but Apple never really supported it fully, and it fell behind in terms of support for things such as colour, larger monitors, and so on. Although a lot of people liked the programming language, I personally found it way too verbose - you had to type things like "go to the last card of the stack" and "wait until the mouse is down".

Why didn't Microsoft copy it? At the time Visual Basic version 1 came out, it seemed as if they'd done exactly that, although VB is vastly more sophisticated now, and the Mac has a semi-clone of VB called RealBasic. Hypercard and its clones, such as Supercard, still have a small but loyal following. One particularly enthusiastic fan has just released a product called Pythoncard, which looks like Hypercard on the outside, but uses Python as its scripting language.

Andrew Simmons
Monday, August 19, 2002

Myst was written in Macromedia Director using its own lanuage called Lingo. Director does allow linking to modules written in C if you like, as did Hypercard - could call embedded objects written in Pascal, C or 68k Assembler.

Ed the Millwright
Monday, August 19, 2002

"Myst was written in Macromedia Director using its own lanuage called Lingo. "

Certainly not what I had heard - see for example:

http://members.aol.com/hcheaven/articles/cyan/cyan.1.html

Andrew Simmons
Monday, August 19, 2002

Yes I'm aware of that. I guess I should have said 'the distributable version of Myst was written'...

As I recall, if you clicked command-I on the executable icon, the info box revealed it was a director projector. And I think the director logo was on the packaging somewhere, or in the credits.

Or am I hallucinating?

Would like to check, but my copy of Myst got snagged.

Ed the Millwright
Monday, August 19, 2002

Well at the very least I'm not the only person confused about this issue:

http://www.geovista.psu.edu/members/harrower/director.html

"Director is one of the most popular and powerful multimedia authoring tools on the market - it is used to create games (i.e. Myst and You Don't Know Jack),"

http://www.greggman.com/headlines/2000/1997-12-03g.htm

"If you want to make a game like Myst or Riven you can use a program called Macromedia Director. Myst was originally created in Macromedia director"

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

That really is confusing. Mind you, being nit-picking, the second article doesn't actually say that Macromedia was used to create Myst, only that you can create games like Myst with it. Still, the interview with the Cyan people seems fairly convincing, and belief that Hypercard was used to write Myst has been widespread for a long time. Not really important, but it would be nice to know.

By the way, if anyone is interested in looking at PythonCard, it is available for free download at:

pythoncard.sourceforge.net

Unlike Hypercard it runs on Windows and Linux as well as Mac OS X.

Also should anyone be interested, here are a couple of recent Hypercard-related articles:

HyperCard Forgotten, but Not Gone 
http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,54365,00.html

and

http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,54370,00.html

on what Bill Atkinson, the program's creator, is up to these days.

Andrew Simmons
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Myst (the first one) was hypercard.

And You Don't Know Jack, at least the last one (5th Dementia), uses Java on top of a multimedia C++ engine (the game that ships that is).

You can do a lot of stuff in Director, although I find it kind of bloated (will I get Joel started :-) ).

Raist3d
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

as a former toolbook user i would say that a similar product that did not deserve to die was mtropolis - see for instance http://www.cbd-hq.com/PDFs/cbdhq_000501gh_mtropolis.pdf

Karel
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

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