[OT] Want to help build a new HyperCard

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Thu May 19 09:41:35 EDT 2016

RM wrote:

 > Over on the Yahoo group "Discussion Group for Hypercard" there is
 > this topic.
 > This seems to be a seasonal phenomenon, which never comes to much,
 > and I cannot help wondering why it keeps coming up.

In those discussions and similar ones I've had with many HyperCard fans 
over the years, many of the views expressed tend to fall into two camps:

a) The interest boils down to a dynamic that I don't believe can be
    satisfied in the terms as given, for the reasons described here:

b) The interest can be very well satisfied, perhaps quite usefully,
    if we keep in mind the difference between a software development
    tool and an authoring environment.

I'm fond of this quote from Bill Appleton, SuperCard's inventor, because 
I believe it applies to LiveCode at least as well:

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

For example, the concept of User Levels can be very useful in an 
authoring environment, providing constraining guidance in a very broad 
form of progressive disclosure, introducing scopes of capabilities in 
measured stages rather than having everything available all at once. 
But in a development tool the only truly useful User Level is 5, 
"Scripting", because scripters script.

The interesting thing about both camps listed above is what they have in 

With very few exceptions (and none in the recent thread on the HC list), 
what's asked for is nothing LiveCode doesn't already provide, but 
instead just a carefully curated subset of LiveCode's capabilities, one 
which employs some form of progressive disclosure to keep the immediate 
environment as simple and inviting as possible.

Given the breadth of projects LiveCode is used on, I think it's fully 
appropriate for the core dev team to continue focusing on an IDE aimed 
at professional-level software development.

But I do believe there may be value in exploring alternative IDEs, 
perhaps for specialized workflows more akin to authoring.

One of these that stands out as perhaps especially useful might be an 
IDE tailored specifically for the K-12 audience.  Given the very 
specialized needs of that audience I don't believe the core dev team has 
either the time or pedagogical expertise to craft something like that. 
But with so many members of our community successfully using LiveCode in 
K-12, the community seems ideally suited for making it.

Consider this:

1. Make a stack with this script:

    on preOpenStack
       close stack "revTools"
       hide stack "revMenubar"
    end preOpenStack

2. Put it in your Plugins folder, and set it to run when LC launches.

3. Re-launch LC.

RESULT: Tabula rasa, a blank slate in which your stack is the only 
visible UI element.  You have the full capabilities of the LC engine 
available, and any IDE tools you might need are also available.  But you 
now have complete control over the user experience, and how those tools 
are accessed.  And perhaps they needn't be accessed at all:  as the 
plugin grows it can replace IDE components with more kid-friendly 
versions, and over time it becomes an ever-simpler K-12-focused 

And it's no more difficult to get started than those three steps above.

True, what happens beyond those three steps is indeed a lot of work. 
It's not easy writing an IDE, and arguably more difficult to make a 
simpler one tailored for kids than one aimed at pro devs.

But it's certainly much easier than doing all that plus making an 
entirely new engine from scratch, which seems to be why the various 
seasonal threads in the HC start off with much enthusiasm but ultimately 
never ship as finished works.

LiveCode makes a great foundation on which one can build a nearly 
limitless range of authoring environments.  All the features needed are 
available in the engine today, for seven platforms.

And LiveCode Community Edition makes an excellent choice for building 
one aimed at K-12, to promote free and open use and sharing for all 
schools everywhere in the world.

  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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