[OT] Atkinson Interview, Pt 2

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Mon May 2 10:43:52 EDT 2016

Jerry Jensen wrote:

 >> On May 1, 2016, at 7:48 PM, DunbarX at aol.com wrote:
 >> Richard.
 >> Is it possible Bill A. is unaware of LiveCode? He intimated that
 >> the current "Hypercard" is a program called "iBooks Author".
 >> Really?
 > He attended and spoke at the LC conference in San Jose. He had
 > written most of PhotoCard in ObjectiveC and was looking at the
 > cross-platform possibilities of LC. Since then, I don’t know
 > his plan or interest. I was surprised as well that he didn’t
 > mention LC in the interview.

When I met him at RevCon/San Jose, we had a very good talk about his 
work and his legacy.  Although he was not originally a scheduled 
speaker, during our chat I proposed the idea and he was quite receptive 
to it, and he gave a great talk.

But as far as LiveCode goes, I think he finds it interesting but my 
sense is that it's solving as different problem than HyperCard was.  The 
languages are similar, but the product focus is very different.

I should clarify that this is more my own interpretation than anything 
he said directly.  All I have to base my hunch on is less his words than 
his actions:  AFAIK he hasn't mentioned LC since, and my two attempts to 
follow up with him after the conference via email met with no reply.

That LiveCode isn't particularly important to someone well versed in 
low-level programming and heavily invested in a single platform isn't 
surprising.  He has the tools he needs, and of course he knows how to 
use them well.

It may be helpful to consider the evolution of HyperCard, and Atkinson's 
description of his goals in inventing it from the interview.

When HC was still in its early "WildCard" phase internally, it had no 
scripting language.

There are a few stories about how the notion of a scripting language 
became introduced to the projects, some more interesting than others, 
but by all accounts it was a relatively late-state addition.

Remember that the term used during much of those early days was 
"authoring", not programming.  Atkinson, like Appleton (SuperCard) and 
other xTalk makers, have expressed many times a certain delightful 
surprise over the scope of things made with the tools they created.

I believe Atkinson's characterization of Apple's iBooks Author is 
fitting for what his original goals for HyperCard were.  Although all of 
us here changed HC's User Level to 5 early on, it was only one of five 
user levels built into the program, and none of the others allowed open 
scripting at all, and it wasn't the default.

Very different focus, more about "authoring" than "programming".

LiveCode is a very capable programming system, and while many of us have 
used to to build authoring systems it's not much of an authoring system 
out of the box.  Like Bill Appleton once said about SuperCard, which 
applies equally well to LC:

     HyperCard is a multimedia authoring environment.  SuperCard is
     a tool you can use to build multimedia authoring environments.

Since the advent of the Web, while programming remains a critical role 
for native apps, most of what we used to think of as authoring has 
become the domain of vertical web tools.

LC how has HTML output, but formats != workflow.  For all its deployment 
options, LC is a programming environment, not an authoring system.

I believe Bill Atkinson's vision was about authoring, so no matter how 
capable LC is, it's really quite a very different product than the one 
he made.  The flavor of the language remains the same, but it seems the 
language wasn't really the center of Atkinson's original vision.

  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World Systems
  Software Design and Development for the Desktop, Mobile, and the Web
  Ambassador at FourthWorld.com                http://www.FourthWorld.com

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