Dan Shafer : Wired HC Article - rev too complicated?

Dan Shafer dan at danshafer.com
Sat Aug 17 12:20:01 EDT 2002


Richard Gaskin wrote:

>Depends on what you want to build.  Director is fairly unbeatable for some
>multimedia tasks, but I wouldn't build an application with it.

Tool (and language) appropriateness are difficult things to get 
across sometimes. I could (but won't here) make an argument that any 
professional programmer who knows only one language is not doing 
himself or his employer/clients any good at all in the long run.

RR is wonderful for what it allows me to do: build small to 
medium-sized interactive applications for cross-platform deployment. 
It is far and away the best tool I've found *for my tastes* to 
accomplish such tasks.

But if I want to build a multimedia application (complex slide show, 
animation display driven by a database, or pure entertainment/showoff 
stuff), right now I'm inclined *not* to rely on RR, not because it 
can't do that job but because I don't know how to do that job with 
RR. Since I have Director and know Lingo (which is an elegant OO 
language in its own right) and JavaScript (which Director supports 
nicely but not as well as I'd like), I'll choose that tool for that 
kind of task. (BTW and FWIW, I downloaded the beta of Norpath 
Elements based on a comment on this list and it is freaking awesome 
for lots of app types. If it didn't require a 1MB+ proprietary 
plug-in for Web deployment of its applets, it would become a serious 
contender for me. It may anyway. Also, I strongly disagree with the 
notion someone expressed that one could build Norpath Elements in RR; 
it has too much good support for stuff that's missing in action in RR 
so far, including HTML and JavaScript support to the max.  But I 
digress.)

So for me it is as it always has been. When we ask "What's the best 
development environment?" we are asking not only the wrong question 
but an unanswerable one. Until you know with *some* degree of 
precision what you want to accomplish, looking for One Holy Grail 
application development tool that will meet your needs is silly.

I still remember how laughable I found it when people built sort of 
mini word processors in HyperCard. Why? There were already good apps 
like that out there and there were tools better suited to creating 
such products if you wanted them.

I remember hearing the two Dartmouth (I think) profs who originally 
developed BASIC speaking at a round table of some sort very early in 
my career. One of them became incensed and red-faced as he screamed, 
"People are using BASIC to build f***ing General Ledgers! That's not 
what it's for!" Wrong. If you're a toolmaker, you don't to decide 
that people can't use your hammer to crack walnuts...or skulls. You 
just put the tool out there.

It's up to the creators to pick the right tool for each kind of job. 
If they want to insist on a one-tool solution for everything, they 
will pay a price in efficiency and will gripe along the way about how 
your tool isn't quite as well suited to their task as they'd like. 
But it's not your fault; you just made a tool.

Anyway, that's how I see it.
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Dan Shafer
Technology Visionary - Technology Assessment - Documentation
"Looking at technology from every angle"
http://www.danshafer.com
831-392-1127 Voice - 831-401-2531 Fax



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