Wired HC Article - rev too complicated?
jswitte at bloomington.in.us
Thu Aug 15 00:15:01 EDT 2002
> It mentions Rev in passing and lumps it in with products that are
> viewed by some "HyperCard advocates" as being "too expensive or
> complex for casual users."
I was thinking about this morning. This may have already been hashed
out before, but it seems that it would be useful if RunRev had some kind
of "home license". this would be aimed at the home user who say wants
to introduce his 10 year-old to programming or make a user database for
the local Cub Scout den (When my dad was a Cub leader, we actually did
this with HC!), make a personal checkbook application, etc. It either
wouldn't have a script limit, have no database access (home users
generally don't need external DB access I would think), have limited
built-in network communication ability (or none at all), be limited only
having a mainstack, and have limited standalone creation ability (or
none at all), and be priced at $100-$129.
One of the beauties of HC was that it let "ordinary" computer users
"dabble" with programming. If you're going to put down $300 for a
small-business license, you want to have a pretty good idea what you're
going to do with it - which isn't a problem for a small-business, but
probably is for a "casual" user. I don't know if Apple ever did any
surveys about the "uses" of HC, but it would be interesting to know.
I'm sort of in that position myself - I'm running a very small business
reselling items and considering plastic fabrication of Newton parts (a
small market indeed) and thinking of using Rev to do a customer
database, but since I don't make all that much profit, it might make
more since just to learn Excel VB. I'll probably end up getting a small
business license, mainly because I already know quite a bit about HC
scripting and like to mess with computers (geek factor).
From the economic viewpoint, I don't know how much sense this makes
though. You have a certain number of "casual" users who would buy such
a limited version at $100 but wouldn't at $300, which is good. But you
might also have some small-business people who can get with the $100
license instead of the $300 version, which isn't. To entice
"micro-business" people, I'd make the license upgradable to either the
SB license or the professional license for the difference in cost.
There would also be the cost for RunRev to produce such a limited
version - I don't know if it could be as simple as turning off compiler
flags in the code, or would be more difficult than that - and the
logistics of distributing such a version - the same argument against
having a version with no ugrades.
As for the complication factor, for an HC user - I think Rev simply
*looks* a bit intimidating. I see this a lot with programs - MacDraw
vs. ClarisDraw is one example I can think. If a program has a lot of
menus, a lot of options in the dialogs, large palettes, etc, I think it
seems more complicated than it may actually be. I don't know if there
have been any HCI studies specifically about this, but any that there
are would be interesting to look at.
As I look at the Revolution interface, a few things that I notice that
might be seen as "more complicated than HC are (don't take this as a
negative criticism of Rev, just observations of comparison with HC 2.0):
The distinction between the pointer tool (the hand) and the selection
tool (arrow). HC didn't make a distinction, and while it makes sense if
you're thinking in terms of a develop-then-test cycle, it is less
conducive to "spontaneous programming" than an integrated tool.
The lack of the "recent cards" command that put up the window with the
miniature views of all the cards in the stack. This helps the novice
user get a sense of the organization of the stack, and reinforces the
idea of being "in" a stack rather than "working with it" - as you would
application code in a traditional programming environment.
The object property window is a lot more complicated looking. A lot
of this is because there's the same window functioning as an editor for
all types of objects, and because of the tab interface for basic
properties, item specific properties, script, etc. The basic properties
tab has a lot of options, which are of use for someone making a
professional app who wants complete control over how the interface
looks, but which simply add "clutter" for a novice user. The other tabs
except for script don't look like they have analogues in HC, but they
are nice and hidden from a novice user.
As far as the "home user" license issue goes, a lot of that has to do
with the fact that Apple made Hypercard, as well as the Mac, so
Hypercard could almost be seen as an freebie of sorts that came with
the Mac - like the iApps are now. Whether this was a good choice or not
is debatable, but I think it certainly did push up adoption of HC among
users, and is something that RunRev can't do (they don't have a main
business making and selling computers) I suppose it one - an educator
perhaps - might cast it also as a sort of public good argument - "do you
want to push up the general knowledge of computer programming among Mac
users?" Apple apparently though so, at least when HC was still a
standard part of the OS - economically though it's hard to justify that
kind of argument.
jswitte at bloomington.in.us
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