Dan Shafer : Wired HC Article - rev too complicated?

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Mon Aug 19 01:58:01 EDT 2002

Wolfgang M. Bereuter writes:

[Warning: almost as long as the original post -- let me know when this is
considered OT and we can take it offline]

>> 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"
> Only its drolly. Thats more than 98% of the desktop market in
> the world...
> Rev/mc was/is described as a cbt and multimedia authoring and
> rapid application tool. If there was no priority in 2 years for
> the authoring community, then the answer is simple:
> Rev is *not* an cbt or multimedia authoring tool...

I've built a fair number of multimedia CBTs in Rev/MC, as has Sun
Microsystems and others.

If the features you need have been requested by enough people, I'd be
surprised if they weren't prioritized appropriately.

> I think you know that win and mac do not display the fonts in
> the same size, because of M$...,ok. How can you compensate that
> with *standard html* without CSS. Please tell me that...

CSS is a browser specification.  I haven't worked in Director for years, but
I don't recall that market-leading multimedia tool supporting CSS, or many
other browser specifications either.

I'm not sure how Director engine compensates for the OS differences in font
metrics, but Rev offers the Profile Manager which lets you apply OS-specific
settings for objects.
> Did you ever do formating of bigger texts with rev for
> crossplatform apps...?

Just how big?  I've released a number of OS X apps and have not had that
reported here.

> If yes, how did you hide that "nice" strike through bug in the
> OSX engine from your clients? I cant imagine that in a 10 CD
> multimedia project with a *lot of text* is not one(!) scrolling
> text field, wich makes the text after scrolling nearly
> unreadable???

Given my experience with the folks at RunRev and MetaCard, I'm confident
that any reproducible bug of that nature will be addressed in the next

All software always has bugs. 100% of serious bugs I've reported in the Rev
engine have been fixed or are actively in progress toward a fix.  And giving
credit where due, I've never seen anyone match the turnaround time for bug
fixes with the consistent speed of Scott Raney (MetaCard Corp.), and Tuviah
Snyder (whose done wonders with some of the multimedia support -- QT and
otherwise -- in the engine).

> Again: The lack of importing rtf or pasting styled text is imho
> inacceptable for a professional authoring tool. Every primary
> school programm (dont get it negativ) like Hyperstudio can do
> this and most of every 20$ Dollar shareware can do it also.
> Why it´s from your point of view a "no need" for a 1000$
> Developer tool. Even if this feature helps you save days and
> weeks of developing time, related to text exchanging in the
> standard crossplatform text format. Even when the "rev
> html-fortmat" is not more than a crutch..?

I can find few tools which export RTF that don't also export HTML.  For me
it does what I need and lets me move on to other things.

I understand from your series of posts on the matter that RTF is important
to you.  If enough other people need it I'm sure the Rev team will
prioritize it appropriately.  I've never seen them turn down a thousand
sales because they simply didn't feel like adding a particular feature. :)

Why doesn't someone craft a Transcript lib for importing RTF?  Geoff -- got
some time on your hands? :)

> Sorry for that hard word, but thats the ignorance of english
> speaking people, wich are thinking there is only one language in
> the world. US and Enlish people tend to forget, that there are
> billions speaking chinese, indian, arabic, spanish, russian,
> japanes, german and so on... All of them prefer (learning)
> software in their own language. So you have to work with
> multilingual texts. For that you need translators. And
> professional translators are working with professional
> texttools, wich use the crossplatform exchange format texts for
> text, called "what surprise": rtf

If I'm not mistaken RTF is a proprietary Microsoft format.  They do not
require licensing fees, but they do control the specification.

For this reason the modern open standard for internationalization is Unicode
(see <http://www.w3.org/International/>), as implemented in the open
standard for SGML and its offspring HTML.

Rev currently has a very modest level of support for Unicode, and it's my
understanding that a more complete implementation which will handle
double-byte characters is in the works.

> Nearly all professional translators are trained to
> recive/deliver their work in rtf.  Have you ever tried importing
> big textfiles of different languages to the rev´s html-"standard"
> -format with all that not Asci chars Umlauts und Sonderzeichen
> like: Ä Ü Ö ß, ë ì î ñ ó ò û Æ ÿ Â Á....

...if you paste that in a Rev field and get the htmlText, you get:

  <p>Ä Ü Ö ß, ë ì î ñ
  ó ò û Æ ÿ Â Á</p>

Which of those is not translated correctly?

> AND..: Where is the Text-, Outliner-,layout-,office programm
> wich can export/import rev´s html-"standard"-format?

You got a word processor that handles <backgroundcolor>?  :)

But seriously, the only significant difference I've found is that browsers
are designed to render text in relative sizes, while Rev/MC does what you're
asking for:  it works in fixed pixel sizes.

MetaCard predates CSS, so when it was time to implement an ASCII format for
describing text attributes within the engine they chose a solution that
works well within the engine: fonts are specified by pixel size.

If you need to export styled text for other applications you'll need to come
up with a solution for the target app.  For example, if you're exporting to
a relative-text-size app like a browser, you can do a replace on the font
strings to render them however you like.  If you want pixel-specific text
sizes that will work across all browsers (IE seems to handle MC HTML fine as
it is) you can generate CSS definitions for your output header.  And since
CSS supports a corollary to backgroundcolor you can have that too.  :)

If it turns out that a lot of users need to export for browsers, let's
continue this on the xtalk list where discussion of the details of such
language additions are handled.

>>> 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.
> F.e.: Have you ever seen the Rosetta Stone (learning languages)?
> If thats not an *application*, how would *you* call it, utility,
> script..?
> imho, there are some millions out there thinking like me, it s
> great App. Done in Director.

My post was weak in its distinction.  Yes, an "application" is an executable
file, so any EXE would apply.  The distinction I was after was "multimedia
application" (like the excellent Rosetta Stone series) as opposed to what we
might call "production application", the traditional world of things like
word processors, spreadsheets, CAD, and other categories which we could
characterize as producing a tangible user-created output.

In this sense, "production applications" can be seen as specialized
authoring tools:  with a word processor you author a novel, with a
spreadsheet you author a business model, with CAD you author maps, etc.  I
think it's this sort of thinking behind Appleton's comment about "a tool
that creates authoring systems".

Of course it would be silly to author a full-fledged word processor in Rev,
with so many great ones out there.  A "production application" development
tool like Rev is best applied for vertical market solutions for which C++
would be cost-prohibitive, or at best less cost-advantageous.

There are an uncountable number of software categories that are well-suited
for something like Rev, with a million more waiting to be discovered.

You might be able to make a mapping program using Director, but Director was
never designed as a general "production application" development
environment, so I suspect it'd be more work than using something built for
the job like Rev.

>> If you're looking to hire programmers for Director, why not for
>> Revolution?
>> RunRev has a list of consultants at
>> <http://www.RunRev.com/revolution/developers/links/consultants.html>.
> What can rev consultants do against bugs in the engine..?

Nothing, but if you need to hire programmers for Director and not for Rev
that makes a powerful statement about the accessibility of each product.

Submit a reproducible recipe with your bug report and work on other aspects
of your program while they resolve it.

>> 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. :)
> Heureka! That´s another part of the description of my decision
> to go with rev!
> BUT... this can be big error if the "one multi-platform" does
> not permit to finish the programm. Then its a lot more
> expensive, than the the 2 licences, because you cant get money
> for unfinished work.

If you have needs that are better addressed by another tool, only you can
make that determination based on the unique requirements of the project at

> My target market are not Pc experts. So they have much more
> problems with bugs than developer or power user. People, wich
> are insecure with the basics of a PC, do not realize/analyze why
> "that thing" is crashing...

Are these script errors or hard crashes?  If the latter, submit a recipe for
reproducing the error and the Rev team can address it for you.  If it's in
the scripts it takes more work. :)

> finally some statements of some german speaking developer I v
> contacted here to have a look at rev, change to rev or do
> anything for me in rev..:
> ...Real fast developing i still do in HC.
A monochrome single-window architecture with a limited object model that
runs only on the obsolete version of one minority OS.  Why?

> All my employes do the rest in Java.
Ten times the development cycle, half the runtime speed.  Or as a friend
says, "Write once, crawl anywhere".  Ever play with Marimba?
> ...Rev seems promising, but the learning curve is very steep.
And this person prefers Java?
> ...Tried to imported a 8000 card HC stack but some functions do
> not work. I have no time to play with it.
Yes, HC requires a lot of HC-specific externals.
When OS X no longer boots into Classic will they have time?
> ...Director - thats the standard for multimedia
And the standard for operating systems is Microsoft Windows.  ;)

The standard for diagramming is Visio.  Does that mean no other
diagramming/CAD/concept mapping tool can have any value, no matter how well
it addresses a specific need?

No single tool does everything in every category better than all others.

While the size of an installed user base plays a useful role in making
choices,  the smart developer also does a critical analysis of the
requirements of the project at hand vs. the features available in each tool.

> A assume that not all german speaking developer are idiots

Germans are some of the best gadgeteers in history.  GoLive was and largely
still is developed by a team of Germans, and IMHO it's a work of genius.
And of course there are the classic Mercedes....

> None of them said I´ll start with it. It was a big surprise for
> me, because I was very enthusiastic for rev and recomend it
> nearly everywhere i could.

Spread the word, brother.  Helping humanity save millions of hours with true
rapid development....

(wow, have I been having too much fun with this tool or what?)

 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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