Dan Shafer : Wired HC Article - rev too complicated?

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Sat Aug 17 06:24:02 EDT 2002

Wolfgang M. Bereuter writes:
> On Friday, August 16, 2002, at 09:45 AM, Richard Gaskin wrote:
>> 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
> If this is possible why they did not make in 2 years?
> * the Applov (Application Overview) Window rezisable
> * Drag and drop
> * Rtf import
> * A better palettes handling
> * etc

Different priorities.  Part of that may be Rev's plarform-independent
nature: remember that iShell runs on Mac and Windows only, which is fine for
their audience but the Rev mission is more "write once, run anywhere".

For example, Mac and Windows offer OS-level drag-and-drop support, but I
don't believe that's available under X-11; the Rev/MC cutomer base currently
has a disproportionately large following in the UNIX world.  But even so, I
wouldn't be surprised if drag-and-drop were not available in a future
version of Rev.

What sort of palette handling improvements would you like to see?

>> could one build Rev with Norpath?
> But i prefer it less overloaded and windowstyled - f.e. like
> iShell. Make an iShell style (not a copy) Ui run on Rev/Mc
> engine. I can give you a list of Apps wich have also a great UI.
> A brainfriendly no coder (!) Interface for the rest of us: Not
> more! Crossplatform and fast as rev without the need of QT (but
> the possiblity to run it). This will be *the* killer app in
> authoring.
> If you can do that I´ll be you first customer!!

Somebody wanna pay my bills for a month? :)

>> 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
> How did you do that with revs texthandling poor html, and
> without importing of rtf or pasting of styled text in a couple
> of days for 10 CD´s? I m really keen to know how you did that?

No need for RTF:  every text style property supported by the Rev/MC engine
can be described in HTML tags.  This includes standard HTML styles like
"<i>" and "<b>", but also Rev-specific style options not found in HTML like

If you build from templates as we're doing it gets even simpler:  each field
serves a different purpose in the layout (header, body text, navigation
instructions, etc), so for consistency each field has its own style.  Most
of the time in this app we just use plain text and allow the field to define
the appearance.

One of the biggest time savers was creating our own set of tags within
content text to describe where the data goes, similar to how XML is often
(over)used but simpler to author and more efficient to parse.  This way a
domain expert can author content in their favorite word processor, and we
run that output through our tag interpreter which constructs the stacks for

> Maybee you did (only) the scripting part of the project, knowing
> MC and Rev very well since a lot of years..?

Yep:  the other 90% is the Rev/MC engine.  :)

> But the thread here is, that rev is to complicated for normal
> user, power user, scripting beginners, occasional programmers,
> multimedia authors, educators, pupils, trainer, without a couple
> of persons in background wich can do the rest of the stuff...

I see learning Rev much like any serious hobby:  start small and build on
what you know.

If you're trying your hand at carpentry you probably don't want to start by
building a mansion.  You'll probably want to start with a shed first, using
only those tools from the hardware store that you'll need for that task.  As
you get more ambitious you may decide to build a bay window extension for
your livingroom, and you'll learn more tools doing that, and so on.

With Rev, you don't really need to use more than a handful of its features
to get work done.  As your needs and experience grow you can poke around and
try new things.  It's kinda like using tools from the hardware store, except
with Rev you have Home Depot right on your desktop.  :)

>> 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.
> If Omni Graffle goes further in the direction where its going
> now with links and scripting, than imho you are wasting your
> time writing "RevLite"...

I didn't say I was writing one at the moment; wouldn't think of it without
doing a careful analysis of the market first, taking into account competing
tools as you mentioned.

But I'm not clear about how Omni Graffle fits in -- the vendor describes it
as "Powerful diagramming and charting for Mac OS X".  Are they working on a
multimedia authoring tool under that name?

Even if so, with OS X representing a minority of current Macs and the whole
of the Mac market being a minority itself, there would seem an opportunity
to pursue the other 90+%.

If there's a main focus for the Rev product, it may well be its
universality.  There are OS-specific tools that compete strongly with Rev,
but I've found none that do as good a job developing and deploying to nearly
all modern computers on the planet.  OS popularities may rise and fall, but
with Rev you become immune to such fluctuations.

> Finally we have rev as a great scripting tool but its not an
> Authoring tool. Therefore it will loose this kind of users. The
> posting from Bruce Lewis on
> http://www.macintouch.com/hypercard.html describes perfectly my
> situation. An I have to think in my future trainingsmaps©
> developer net. I have no idea, this was my naively thinking 2
> years ago when I have decided to buy rev as an authoring tool.
> Now I ask myself how should this (type) of developer understand
> rev and how should I (teach) or at least demonstrate how it
> works to them... Really NO idea!
> I m not a scripter, but may bee a kind of power user. After 2
> years struggling with rev, I fear a couple of Director Licenses
> (or/and some hours of Director programmers) would have been
> cheaper than one Pro License of Rev.

Depends on what you want to build.  Director is fairly unbeatable for some
multimedia tasks, but I wouldn't build an application with it.

If you're looking to hire programmers for Director, why not for Revolution?
RunRev has a list of consultants at

A lot of my clients started out doing their on programming, but over time
they found they could conceive features faster than they could learn to
implement them, preferring to focus on product design and marketing and
leave the implementation to an experienced script monkey.

And since one multi-platform Rev Pro license is about half of the cost of
the two Director licenses needed for cross-platform work, you just freed up
licensing cash that could be put directly toward development time -- it's
like getting an extra $1000 worth of programming for free. :)

Is there an English version of <www.internettrainer.com>?  I couldn't
immediately tell what the mapping tool does or how it works, and Google
couldn't translate the site.

 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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