Control? Object?

Devin Asay devin_asay at
Mon Jun 20 02:05:13 CEST 2016

This is an interesting discussion, but I’ll admit it has never been a source of confusion for me or my students. I announce on day 1: “Everything in LiveCode is an object.” And then: “Controls are objects that can be placed on cards to create a user interface.” Going forward I usually refer to objects you can place on cards as “control objects”. Then we move on, and I don’t ever remember having someone be confused about that point. Another way to think about it is that all of the thingies on the tools palette are control objects. 

My .02.


> On Jun 19, 2016, at 12:16 PM, Richmond <richmondmathewson at> wrote:
> On 19.06.2016 19:56, wrote:
>> To me the terms "control" and "object" are synonymous.
> <snip>
> They may be synonymous to you; but all they do is cause confusion in the
> "tiny minds" of 9 - 14 year old children who haven't heard about Piaget's
> Formal Operational Stage, nor reached it.
> You are, after all, an extremely experienced programmer who, probably, doesn't even murmur
> 'object' or 'control' under one's breath while choosing a button any more (if you ever did), as you have
> internalised all that to such an extent that those terms are neither here nor there. I know
> that I have.
> The other problem has nothing, as such, to do with naming conventions decided
> by Livecode developers or other computer people, but to do with people's
> perceptions of what they see on their WIMP GUI on a computer VDU.
> A quick, impromptu survey involving 3 children (9 - 11 years old, my father
> (83 years old) and myself [don't quote this one in your next academic paper]
> tells me that folk will see a difference between 2 classes of 'things':
> 1. Stacks & Cards (I mean, let's face facts, stacks are essentially invisible (or, maybe, as files
> in one's directory) and only visualised through their cards).
> 2. Things that sit on cards (buttons, images, fields, et al).
> AND, to that 'stack of cards' metaphor. How many teachers are bothering to pull out
> a pack of playing cards to illustrate this to kids who are in the Concrete Operational Stage
> and can't 'see' a Livecode as a pile of cards to save their lives?
> A child, on Friday, said this, when I made him a second card: "Oh, a second page."
> The 'stack of cards' metaphor has become so entrenched in our brains after years of bashing away at
> Hypercard, SERF, HyperNext, HyperStudio (ooh, look [ ] they have just released the ability to export to HTML5), Supercard, Metacard,
> Runtime Revolution - Livecode, blah,  blah, that we assume it is automatic in new users, when, in fact,
> it may not necessarily be useful or relevant anymore. Especially, if, unlike people like Bill Atkinson,
> we don't come from a culture where we stack our pancakes up into one big pile and "stuff our mushes", nor play cards on a regular basis.
> My Granny, from Carnoustie via Dundee, used to impose a horribly boring card game on my sister
> and I every time she came to visit, called "Sevens", and whenever she was in danger of losing
> announce, "Ach, I've got a hand like a sweaty foot." Which put me off cards almost completely.
> Now; it does seem sensible to call things that sit on cards (buttons, images, fields, et al) 'objects',
> because, frankly, not all of them CONTROL things: surely, only things that contain scripts CONTROL things?
> To illustrate how daft calling things on cards 'controls' is, imagine calling the black (or white) blotches
> on a Frisian cow "organs", when they are so obviously different from things such as mouths, eyes, ears
> and udders.
> Now, undoubtedly, SOME objects may become controls (by being gifted scripts), but that's beside
> the point when one shows a bunch of learners (whether they are either 9 or 83 years old,
> or anywhere in between) a collections of things (buttons, images, fields, et al) on a card, as they have
> not yet become controls as they have not had scripts written into their scriptEditor windows.
> I wonder if it might not be a good idea to get a load of 9 year old native speakers to sit down in front
> of a VDU displaying a Livecode 'page' containing a load of 'objects' and ask those children what they
> would call them as a group of things.
> Certainly, what ever "those things" are called, the apparent conflict in the Dictionary between the "Obj"
> words and the "Controls" mentioned in the Menus does cause confusion in young minds (and it may in
> others for all I know).
> So, for learning purposes at least, I would say "B*gger the official terms", what is needed is a coherent
> set of terms for end-users.
> Richmond.
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Devin Asay
Learn to code with LiveCode University

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