MacWorld part 2

Richard Gaskin ambassador at
Fri Jan 14 21:07:59 EST 2005

Dan Shafer wrote:
> That said, the ultimate disappointment of Prograph was that even though 
> it seemed like it ought to be a way to bring programming to the 
> Inventive Users I know and love so well, alas, it embodies a very steep 
> learning curve. Combined with the fact that screen size limitations make 
> it all but impossible ever to see any but the most trivial of toy apps 
> on the screen all at one time in source code form (which makes top-level 
> view and debugging a nightmare), Prograph turned out to be not nearly as 
> productive as we'd all hoped it could be.

I did a lot of reading on iconic programming systems a few months back, 
pondering another alternative IDE for Rev.  It's not hard to do from a 
technical standpoint, but in the end I could find no lasting successful 

Most of these came about in the late '80s and early '90s, and many were 
geared for kids (like KidSim).  Many, many papers were published in the 
ACM journal and elsewhere, and a number of these have been migrated to 
the web if anyone cares to look them up.

But for all the promise such systems seemed to have at one time, in 
practice every implementation to date has failed to provide the ratio of 
learnability and flexibility found even in HyperTalk.

Before writing SuperCard, Bill Appleton wrote CourseBuilder, an 
award-winning iconic programming system for courseware that was 
eventually used for a wide range of things, even games.  When I 
interviewed him for a computer journal the month SuperCard was released 
I asked him about CourseBuilder, and about iconic programming in 
general.  His take was pretty much what you wrote:  It sounds great on 
paper and even demoes well for simple things, but the moment you move 
into anything complex you're stuck looking at a spider web of boxes and 
lines, the clarity such a design provided initially is long gone, and 
you still don't have complex behaviors.

Part of Appleton's motivation for creating SuperCard was his feeling 
that textual programming, such as scripting, offered much greater 

Seems us scripters don't have it so bad after all. :)

  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World Media Corporation
  Rev tools and more:

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