Revolution and the Web, feedback wanted, Part 1 of 3

J. Landman Gay jacque at
Fri Dec 1 17:11:31 EST 2006

Mikey wrote:
>> MetaCard was the original product until Runtime took over. Now it is
>> just another alternate IDE, though as you mention, the GUI is less
>> elaborate. But everything that can be done in Rev can also be done in MC
>> because the engine is the same, and in some cases, the GUI is similar as
>> well. They are more alike than different. I use both, all the time, for
>> different things.
> Since I clearly know zero about MC, give me an example of why I would
> use MC instead of RR.

Well, I'm guessing most people wouldn't use the MC IDE, since Rev is 
more polished and has more features to help newcomers, but I can give a 
few of my own reasons.

Because the IDE is much simpler, it responds much faster. Appearance of 
palettes, help text, and dialogs is intantaneous. I use MC almost 
exclusively when laying out the objects in a new stack because I don't 
like waiting for Rev's property inspector to change panes and do its 
little resizing dance. I can click and set object properties in an 
instant in the MC IDE, and they seem better organized to me (but that's 
probably just what I'm used to.) The down side: only a few of the most 
commonly-used properties are in the MC property palettes. If you want 
the less common ones, you need to already know what those are and type 
the setting into the message box (or write your own inspector.) MC 
assumes a certain degree of familiarity with the language, so it isn't 
ideal for newcomers.

When I need to edit or inspect every control on a card, I prefer MC's 
control browser, which is very simple and only displays the controls on 
the current card of the selected stack. It lets me change the layering 
of objects directly without accessing the property inspector (very 
handy.) Again, speed is a part of my preference here because accessing 
properties via the MC control browser is instant. The down side: there 
is no overall view of the stack's objects and hierarchy. You have to 
already know it. Sometimes I need one view, sometimes the other. I flip 
back and forth between MC and Rev for that. (See dangerous disclaimer 

I use the MC IDE when I want to avoid all the front- and backscripts 
that Rev inserts. When I'm debugging, it is sometimes easier to just 
remove all the extra stuff and deal exclusively with my own scripts. Rev 
sends a constant stream of specialized messages in the background, and 
sometimes I don't want those. MC keeps the messaging to a minimum. Also, 
the debuggers respond slightly differently to some errors. Sometimes I 
can get more info debugging in MC than I can in Rev (or vice versa.) So 
if a particular bug hangs up the debugger in one, I switch to the other.

The MC script editor is faster to type into and doesn't use any HTML at 
all. (On the other hand, it doesn't auto-complete for you.) It doesn't 
store a duplicate copy of my script as htmlText, but rather colorizes 
scripts on the fly when they open. I don't like how pasting into the Rev 
editor inserts styled text, which requires me to make a special trip to 
the font menu to remove the styling. The MC editor converts all my text 
to plain, unstyled text without me doing anything, which duplicates the 
HC experience for me and is what I'm used to. Some people prefer 
htmlText, so they wouldn't like this. One thing I miss in the MC editor 
is the ability to see the list of handlers in a convenient column. In 
MC, the handler list is in a menu, which is difficult to navigate in 
long scripts. I'd say the trade-off in the script editors is about 50/50 
for me; Rev's feature set is more advanced, but MC's plain text and 
speed are better.

The MC standalone builder is extremely minimal. I like Rev's much 
better, so I move to Rev to build standalones. To build a standalone in 
MC, you need to be responsible for all the details and it is a much more 
manual process. So points to Rev on this one.

Basically, you'd like the MC IDE if you understand the language 
thoroughly, like being in complete control of how it behaves, and enjoy 
being a down in the dirt geek who likes speed and minimalism. After all, 
it was originally written by a unix geek, and that's sort of what they 
were all about. ;)

> I'm also assuming that the file formats are different, right?

No, they are identical. They use the same engine and read/write the same 
files. I sometimes have the same stack open in both IDEs simultaneously 
(dangerous, don't try this at home.) I only mention my schizophrenia to 
show that the files are identical and can be used interchangeably in 
either app.

> Also, isn't MC freeware now?

The MC IDE is open source and free, but you must have a licensed version 
of Revolution to use it. What you do is download the IDE (which is just 
a couple of stacks) and move a copy of your licensed Revolution engine 
into the IDE. In the past, you could not use the MC IDE without an 
Enterprise license. I don't know if this has changed, but I suspect 
that's still the case, which may make all this moot for you anyway if 
you are a Studio or Media user.

Jacqueline Landman Gay         |     jacque at
HyperActive Software           |

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