Wired HC Article - rev too complicated?

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Thu Aug 15 03:07:00 EDT 2002

use-revolution-request at lists.runrev.com wrote:

>> 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.

But as Apple discovered, a $99 scripting tool does not appear to be viable.

In addition to the costs associated with all other software development
(mostly r&d and marketing), the support costs for scripting products are
much higher than with nearly any other type of software.  Even Metrowerks
has relatively lower support costs, as they support only the IDE itself and
not the language; the vendor of a proprietary scripting tool must support

Further, the casual user more inclined to buy a non-professional license is
likely to require more support than someone with more experience and a more
disciplined approach to programming.

And perhaps most significant of all is the role that personality types play
in all this.  HyperCard was billed as "programming for the rest of us", but
in reality most HyperCard users are exactly that: they use stacks other
people built.  For example, how many people at Renault develop in HyperCard,
and how many run those stacks?  I imagine the ratio is even greater in
academia, where one developer will often make stacks for an entire school,
or even a district.  End users don't care what system a program was
developed in, as long as it works.

In any given gene pool, there are only so many people who will enjoy
programming, no matter how intelligent the language is (with chunk
expressions and other time-saving and code-simplifying niceties, I would
argue that xTaks are among the most intelligent of languages).  Price points
will not significantly alter the percentage of serious scripters among us.

The nature of programming requires certain traits to enjoy:  a love of
solving puzzles, patience, the ability to break tasks down into subtasks,
the ability to abstract the user experience from the underlying code, a
reasonable typing ability, etc.  While the xTalk family of languages
requires less of these traits than most other programming languages, they
must still be present for the task of scripting to be enjoyable, and not
everyone has them  -- some folks have lives. :)

"Programming for the rest of us" has a certain ring of truth to it when we
hear the phrase, but I would suspect any serious effort to profile potential
users would show that most folks have personality types which simply don't
indicate a proficiency, or even interest, in programming.

For the rest of the rest of us, there's Revolution. :)

 Richard Gaskin 
 Fourth World Media Corporation
 Custom Software and Web Development for All Major Platforms
 Developer of WebMerge 2.0: Publish any Database on Any Site
 Ambassador at FourthWorld.com       http://www.FourthWorld.com
 Tel: 323-225-3717                       AIM: FourthWorldInc

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