Dan Shafer : Wired HC Article - rev too complicated?

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Fri Aug 16 01:03:01 EDT 2002

Pierre-Marie writes:

> To illustrate the problem see http://www.macintouch.com/hypercard.html
> Perhaps "Norpath Elements Studio" is the solution for beginner
> Perhaps Revolution understands the threat and will make a good and easy
> entrance.

I took a gander at the screen shots for Norpath.  There are some tasty
features there, but it got me thinking about tool scope and flexibility:
It looks like one of us could build Norpath in a couple weeks with Rev, but
could one build Rev with Norpath?

Bill Appleton, the inventor of SuperCard, said something interesting in an
interview I did with him for a magazine back in the summer of '89 after
SuperCard first premiered:

  "HyperCard is a multimedia authoring environmemt.  SuperCard is
   a tool you can use to build multimedia authoring environmenmts."

At first you might ask: "Who needs to build authoring envirinmemnts?" For
smaller projects it's not very relevant.  But for large projects, the
ability to craft custom environments for building specific kinds of stuff
becomes more important.

For example, one of my recent projects was building a prototype of a medical
training system, which will ultimately be part of a 10-CD set of tutorials.
With the instructional design and supporting object structure worked out,
we've begun work on a custom authoring environmemt to produce the CD series
at a significant cost savings over what it would take to do without such
tools, turning a production cycle of a week or two down to a couple days.

And even if you don't build authoring environments per se, the tools needed
to do that serve well for just about any other type of application.

The power of Rev over a lot of competitors is just that sort of sweet spot:
you can build stuff, but you can also make tools to build stuff for you.  In
contrast, those with more experience than I with VB and RealBASIC (Lorin,
please correct me if this is no longer accurate) have suggested that these
tools cannot create applications on the fly.   The ways in which objects are
created and stored are limited at runtime.  It wasn't clear if Norpath
offered such things at all, let alone the ability to create custom tool
palettes, dialogs, etc.  And then there are chunk expressions, so commonly
needed yet just as commonly absent from most other language families.

Rev's flexibility in this regard is also a pitfall:  with so many options,
where do you start?  Thinking in terms of the "progressive disclosure"
principle (see 
I've long wondered whether it might make sense to build a sort of "RevLite"
UI, something with the bare essentials exposed to let folks get their feet
wet with confidence.   As they gain more experience and crave more options,
those options would become available.

Ah, if only I had more time to actually flesh such things out, rather than
ramble about them on an otherwise interesting list...  :)

 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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