ERC Journal #2 from Richard Gaskin

sims sims at
Thu Nov 18 01:30:56 EST 2004

ERC Journal Day 3:

Malte continued yesterday's overview of Rev 
basis, wrapping it up with a demo of using the 
Application Builder.   He covered it well, 
including the capability Monte added to do 
instant builds from saved settings. But even 
better was when he jumped back into multimedia 
library and other tools and demos he included on 
the CD he prepared for us attendees.  His MM lib 
is very handy, with the ability to move objects 
along ellipses as well as circles, and it also 
covers some path-based options that go beyond the 
"move" command.

He also showed a new game he's been developing, 
which is not only graphically attractive but has 
some damn clever code.  He needed animated loops 
with richer colors than GIFs provide, so he wrote 
some handlers to create looped PNGs with timers. 
Coupled with his path animation libs, the game 
makes extensive use of timers in a smoother way 
than I would have thought possible.

Malte then showed an earlier game he'd made, 
rather like Tetris in which objects falls from 
the sky and you use the arrow keys  to guide two 
children holding a box to catch them.  He uses 
timers for nearly everything there, and has 
enough clock cycles left over to do hit-testing 
on all of the falling objects to see if they're 
in the box.  He does the hit-testing with the 
intersect function, walking through the objects 
with "repeat with i = 1 to 6".  He reminded us 
how slow the "repeat with" construct is, and says 
that he has another game he'll post in which he 
replaced that with "repeat for each" with an 
order of magnitude better performance:  he says 
the new game does hit-testing on 550 objects with 
no performance degradation.  Astounding.


Frédéric Rinaldi covered a wide range of valuable 
tips during his talk, including useful plugins 
and tools, the power of the filter and match 
commands, and an overview of the challenges and 
solutions he encountered in making his new 
product, FastMailBase.

His TabRuler plugin is way cool.  One of the nice 
things about a seminar like this is getting a 
fresh perspective on stuff you already have on 
your hard drive.   Rinaldi's TabRuler is 
pre-installed with Rev, and since I spend most of 
my time in MetaCard I hadn't spent much time with 
Rev plugins. No more -- TabRuler is way cool, as 
is Rinaldi's PrefsBuilder, which makes short work 
of setting up a Prefs dialog.

Rinaldi then showed is stack that demo's the 
power of the filter command.  I'd talked with him 
briefly about this last night, and have a fresh 
appreciation for the powerful combination of 
using regex with filter.   His Filter Demo stack 
is an even niftier variant of his RegEx builder 
(also bundled with Rev), and like its predecessor 
is quite useful.

Rinaldi's FastMailBase looks like a great 
product. It addresses a problem we all face: 
managing large volumes of email.  If you get a 
lot of emails every day, leaving them in your 
mail client will bog your system down.  But how 
to archive?  None of the major email packages 
have a decent means of archiving, but thankfully 
Rinaldi is an inventive soul:  FastMailBase can 
archive mail from most major email clients, 
including Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla, 
and many others.  He provides extensive options 
for specifying criteria for exporting to the 
archive, and he uses the Valentina database 
engine for efficient storage with rapid access. 
Once in FastMailBase, your day-to-day email is 
lighter and faster, and Rinaldi provide a very 
complete set of search tools to dig through your 
archives as needed, including the ability to 
reply to a message directly from within the 

Frédéric also showed is the custom standalone 
building tool he uses.  He poked around in Rev's 
App Builder to find the hooks he needed, and was 
able to construct from that a very quick app 
builder that does everything he needs to do for 
making a perfect standalone every time  - in just 
one click.

He also reviewed some tips for multi-platform 
work, including using special characters in 
scripts, AppleScript/Shell/Registry/VBScript 
calls, separation lines in option controls, 
menubar behavior, window name conventions that 
differ between platforms, and closing windows vs. 
quitting on Windows.


After a leisurely lunch, Jan Schenkel began his 
session on building enterprise apps in Rev with 
an overview of database options, looking beyond 
the tech aspects alone to consider licensing and 
other considerations.  His personal favorite for 
many projects is RevDB, and he gave a demo on 
setting it up and using it.

Jan then showed us a demo of Quartam Reports, his 
very powerful tool for generating database 
reports.  It's very close to release, and very 
polished. Every aspect of it, from the layout 
tools to the Print Preview stack, all have a very 
polished, professional look.   Amazingly it 
provides query support  for nearly any data 
source you'd want to use in a Rev-based app, from 
MySQL to a stack of cards.

QR is cool.  Very cool.  Certainly worth the 
wait.  The Layout Builder is gorgeous, and the 
query broker goes far beyond the old Nine to Five 
Reports externals for HyperCard.   All together 
QR looks like a great value, with  business model 
that should be attractive for both beginners 
needing a solution for their own printing to pro 
app developers who need comprehensive printing 
for their commercial products.  Can't wait for 
the public beta -- next week?

Jan also explored other parts of serving the 
enterprise, including Internet services like 
SOAP, XML-RPC, and more, and showed an example 
app that demonstrates many common business 
functions, including database access, sending 
mail, a nifty use of the merge function for 
formatted preview -- and all in a UI that 
translates itself between three different 

It occurs to me in reviewing these posts that 
there's so much that words simply can't capture 
here, about the million small ways face-to-face 
get togethers do something that the list simply 
can't do. Hopefully Andre will be able to employ 
his wit to capture some of that, as he's 
volunteered to take over as blogger-on-the-road 
for the post-conference tour to Gozo.

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