Books on RunRev

Ken Norris pixelbird at
Sat May 31 23:57:01 EDT 2003

> Date: Sat, 31 May 2003 12:18:28 -0700
> Subject: Re: Books on RunRev
> From: Richard Gaskin <ambassador at>
> Ken Norris wrote:

>> Besides the original program developed by Bill Atkinson, et al, and thew
>> later teams at Apple, I believe the dramatic success of Hypercard was due in
>> part to those prolific manuals available for it.
> Or the other way around.
No argument. The manuals were needed partly because HC had gained enough
popularity that the folks who loved it and had time enough to dig deeper
wanted to help others develop better stacks, which would benefit everyone,
and there was a market for it, too. Especially with some of the junk
floating around.
> Remember that HyperCard was pre-installed on every Mac for many years, and
> its development and marketing heavily subsidized by the mother ship (it was
> seen as a strategic element that helped distinguish the Mac advantage).
Perhaps, but I myself never saw a Mac with HC pre-installed, i.e., it was
always an _option_ when you installed the OS. But the last part is true for
sure. Apple was shooting for schools, small businesses, home users, etc.,
and it worked.
> If Apple (or any major OS vendor) wants to evangelize Rev, I think it would
> be in their mutual interest to do so.  But until then, comparisons of
> marketing any non-OS-vendor product to one built by an OS vendor will carry
> implications that don't apply fairly.
I had to read that over a couple of times, but if you're saying what I think
you are, then my response is that I didn't mean to infer that RR should be
expected to do it all, nor right this second...that would indeed be unfair,
but I don't see Apple or MS or IBM championing RR with megabucks for manual
publishing either, so that's non-sequiter.

However, I'm absolutely _elated_ to see that others want better
documentation too, and even more that there are those on this list willing
to participate in seeing it come about. That says a lot for this growing
community. In fact, since I don't think I can contribute much technically,
I'd be willing to take other assignments, sometime in late June.

The very best books that came out for HC (IMHO) were published
independently, i.e., with no special support from Apple.
> with the product in continual development,
> any set of printed docs will be complete for only a few months.
If you put it together in modules, like I suggested before, you could simply
edit what's already there with the changes, including index addenda which
wouldn't often be necessary, and put it up on a website. Then us users could
simply print them out and add/replace pages in our books. That part isn't
rocket science.
> As with the
> Web, getting accustomed to reading online will ultimately pay for itself in
> overall productivity gains by encouraging learning directly in the living
> laboratory.  
I wish I could depend on that, but I can't. I'd like to be able to curl up
in bed and read about user properties or window management theory.
> There is no more effective way to learn Rev than by experimentation.
Perhaps, but it's not the only way. That's what this list is for. Why would
anyone want to spend hours of frustration trying to make something work when
there is an answer already at hand. We all do what we can. I remember
helping out a couple of folks on this list before I ever got Rev 1.0 Pro,
but the confirmation came from trying out something I found in "HyperTalk
2.2 The Book". But this latest revision is way past that now.
> I don't mean to suggest that printed docs have no place; they're especially
> useful in getting oriented in the early learning phase.  Fortunately Geoff
> Canyon's nifty RTF exporter makes it convenient to print sections on an
> as-needed basis.
I remember. I ran out of paper.
> Show me a Macromedia or Adobe product documented as thoroughly as Jeanne has
> done with Rev and I'll eat this post at the next SoCal RevDevCon (ink jet
> inks are non-toxic, aren't they?)
No one's debating that, Richard. IMO, Jeanne does a great job and doesn't
need any defense. But what I know about PS came from reading third party
books open to the appropriate pages, to the left of my keyboard, the display
window with my project on it in front, and the mousepad to the right. That's
the way everyone I've ever known does it.

I'll stand behind that statement all the way. There simply isn't enough real
estate on a monitor to do it all properly.
> Sure, the docs are as imperfect as the world we live in, and to RunRev's
> credit it seems the feedback here is heard and acted upon to the best of
> their abilities.
I don't think anyone is debating that either, certainly no one who's spent
time on this list.
> But with all due respect to the good readers here, it's a rare post about
> something "missing" in the docs that can't be located in three clicks in the
> Help stacks (okay, once in a while the drill-down may take as many as four
> clicks, and once even five).
If it were that simple, no one would be asking this stuff. What happens is
sometimes akin to detective work for a beginner and can get very frustrating
in a hurry, because your stack is _behind_ the docs and you can't refer to
it while you're searching. Toggling back and forth causes flashing on the
screen and is nerve-racking to most of us. Turning pages in a reference book
is about 400% softer on you're eyes and mind.
> I'm not sure what the issue is; it certainly isn't intelligence.  Many if
> not most of the readers here exhibit unusually high intelligence.
Agreed. Intelligence has nothing to do with it.
> And certainly the docs can do an ever better job of anticipating learning
> challenges, but as one who reads, writes, and tech-edits a fair amount of
> documentation I don't see Rev's standing out as particularly deficient.
Rev's scope seems very broad, which is to it's credit. No doubt about that,
but it is, in fact, so broad that looking at all of what it can do is a
little overwhelming (I'm not sure anyone even _knows_ everything it can
do!). So is PhotoShop. Many of us will only use a percentage of either one.

The deficiency, therefore, is _not_, repeat _not_ about comparison, IMHO,
but that rev's incredible abilities are simply beyond the docs. I think
updateable indexed paper documentation together with an online educational
series will put a lot more fuel in Rev's tank.
> Given the similarities of Transcript to other xTalks, it's
> tempting to think one can make the transition with little or no new
> learning.  That's certainly true relative to moving from an xTalk to just
> about anything else, but when moving from xTalk to xTalk the differences are
> there but more subtle, and hence under-anticipated.
For me, it's not so much about language differences as it is about the
plethora of new stuff, conceptual changes, and scope. I love that it's
there, but I hate that I can't refer to the docs without the interruption of
having to toggle in and out of a bunch of windows, and that I can't study it
> Then experiment, experiment, experiment....
Well, if I were getting paid for it I'd love to, but it's more like night
school for me. I only have about this much time (thumb and forefinger about
an inch apart).

Thanks for taking the time Re this subject,
Ken N.

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