Books on RunRev

Richard Gaskin ambassador at
Sat May 31 14:27:01 EDT 2003

Ken Norris wrote:

> I agree with this 100%. Take a look at some of the fully-indexed,
> well-organized printed media available for HyperCard:
> 1) Apple's own printed manuals, which were no slouches.
> plus these 700+ page offerings from others:
> 2) Danny Goodman's "The Complete Hypercard 2.2 Handbook".
> 3) The Waite Group's "Tricks of the HyperTalk Masters".
> 4) Winkler, Kamins, DeVoto "HyperTalk 2.2, The Book". (my personal fave)
> 5) Post and Long -- I don't know the exact title of their book (9 to 5
> Reports).
> If someone, (anyone) can find time and energy to publish a commercial book
> for Runtime Revolution, I could all but guarantee it would produce large
> income over the first couple of weeks all by itself, PLUS I believe the
> distribution of RR would increase exponentially.
> Besides the original program developed by Bill Atkinson, et al, and thew
> later teams at Apple, I believe the dramatic success of Hypercard was due in
> part to those prolific manuals available for it.

Or the other way around.

Remember that HyperCard was pre-installed on every Mac for many years, and
its development and marketing heavily subsidized by the mother ship (it was
seen as a strategic element that helped distinguish the Mac advantage).

If Apple (or any major OS vendor) wants to evangelize Rev, I think it would
be in their mutual interest to do so.  But until then, comparisons of
marketing any non-OS-vendor product to one built by an OS vendor will carry
implications that don't apply fairly.

> RR has much more and I realize publishing printed manuals is expensive and
> difficult to update considering the changes which have already happened, but
> at some point it must be done IMHO. The HC manuals are hopelessly outdated
> and wholly insufficient to be used for MC/Rev, or even Supercard anymore.
> And as for dropping nearly a C-note for a printed manual with no
> comprehensive indexing, well....I, for one, won't do it.

Just as well, in some respects:  with the product in continual development,
any set of printed docs will be complete for only a few months.  As with the
Web, getting accustomed to reading online will ultimately pay for itself in
overall productivity gains by encouraging learning directly in the living

There is no more effective way to learn Rev than by experimentation.

I don't mean to suggest that printed docs have no place; they're especially
useful in getting oriented in the early learning phase.  Fortunately Geoff
Canyon's nifty RTF exporter makes it convenient to print sections on an
as-needed basis.
> I think most of us would like to see RR have the success all the hard work
> put into it deserves, but I don't see it happening until topnotch
> professional documentation for it is published.

Show me a Macromedia or Adobe product documented as thoroughly as Jeanne has
done with Rev and I'll eat this post at the next SoCal RevDevCon (ink jet
inks are non-toxic, aren't they?)

Sure, the docs are as imperfect as the world we live in, and to RunRev's
credit it seems the feedback here is heard and acted upon to the best of
their abilities.

But with all due respect to the good readers here, it's a rare post about
something "missing" in the docs that can't be located in three clicks in the
Help stacks (okay, once in a while the drill-down may take as many as four
clicks, and once even five).

I'm not sure what the issue is; it certainly isn't intelligence.  Many if
not most of the readers here exhibit unusually high intelligence.

And certainly the docs can do an ever better job of anticipating learning
challenges, but as one who reads, writes, and tech-edits a fair amount of
documentation I don't see Rev's standing out as particularly deficient.

Heck, think back about all the crappy JavaScript documentation we had to
deal with when it first came out, but that nor the complete absence of any
debugging facilities didn't stop it from becoming the most widely-used
scripting language ever.

Given the differences between adoption habits of JavaScripters and
Transcripters, my pet theory is that newcomoers to Rev underestimate the
role of unlearning when learning Rev.

Most of the folks on this list have experience in other languages, mostly in
another xTalk.  Given the similarities of Transcript to other xTalks, it's
tempting to think one can make the transition with little or no new
learning.  That's certainly true relative to moving from an xTalk to just
about anything else, but when moving from xTalk to xTalk the differences are
there but more subtle, and hence under-anticipated.

Expectations for leveraging xTalk experience are high with Rev newcomers,
and often those expectations are met.  But there are just enough differences
that without anticipating them they will be perceived as bigger obstacles
than they are.

Think back on how hard it as to learn JavaScript, and learning Rev seems
infinitely easier.  Just know that there are differences, most of the time
they make good sense, and just about all of them are documented.

Then experiment, experiment, experiment....

 Richard Gaskin 
 Fourth World Media Corporation
 Developer of WebMerge 2.2: Publish any database on any site
 Ambassador at
 Tel: 323-225-3717                       AIM: FourthWorldInc

More information about the use-livecode mailing list