Making the move...

Marielle Lange mlange at
Fri Mar 17 07:44:16 EST 2006

> The missing link is the killer app made with it.  RoR was virtually  
> unheard of before BaseCamp took off, showing the world how powerful  
> and flexible RoR is.  If we had an app of similar scope and appeal  
> I have no doubt that as long as the engine is free for such uses  
> and the scripts are open source it would attract considerable  
> attention.

The possibilities have been there for about 10 years.

So why is it that Java is now in position 1 and Ruby in position 22  
of the most popular programming languages and that none of xtalk,  
hypertalk, transcript is mentioned anwhere in the 100 most popular  
ones (though RealBasic and SmallTalk are)?

Yes, runrev product is great in the sense that it is easier to use by  
beginner programmers than many other things on the market. It is also  
great in the sense that it let advanced programmers do more in less  
time (but not necessarily *better*). It is also great in the sense  
that it let you do out of the box what would take hours if not days  
to set up in other environments.

On this list, all discussions always come back to the same thing.  
This product is so great, this is so evident that everybody should  
adopt it... Runrev too has appeared to think that  to have a great  
product is enough and they had to do nothing but let it sell itself.  
I am afraid, to have a great product is not enough.

What you get with Java, Ruby, Ajax that you don't get with runrev is  
the following.

1) Re-usable LIBRARIES.

Honestly what I have read recently on how revolution is so much  
superior to Director or Java is just a *BIG* joke. Agreed, revolution  
let  you write stuff rapidly. But you have to write the same stuff  
again and again and again and again. But what java does is let you  
write it ONCE and REUSE it again and again and again.

2) Rich and easy to access documentation

If you want to use a java library written by somebody else, simple,  
you get access to the API online and you know what method to call and  
how. You don't need to know *anything* about the inner workings of  
the library. Why is it? Because some some conventions have been  
created which let you comment your script in a very efficient way,  
where the API doc can be automatically generated from these comments. There is *NOTHING* even close to  
this in revolution. Here, if you want to find your way through  
revolution it is by checking up the list as much as you can and post  
your questions on the list (which is an important problem for non  
English speaking persons). These nice little chats on the list are  
without doubt helping both the sender and the receiver feel very good  
about themselves, so priviledged to be in such a great community.  
Let's face it. This way of doing is plain inefficient compared to the  
way of doing in ruby or java communities.

3) Member's sense of investment in making their work freely available

Yes, you can do fantastic stuff with revolution. But you have to  
start from zero and do everything by yourself.
Because of all the effort, it is only worth it if you plan to sell  
your application to a small numbers of high-paying clients.

So Richard, why is it that sourceforge project you are admin of is  
still empty? It was registered in 2001.
"A project to create a publicly accessible library of handlers for  
the xTalk family of languages. The immediate aim of this project is  
to create a robust library of handlers for the cross platform  
Metacard/RunRev xTalk family of products."
I had a chance to see David's (Bovil) library of handlers: Very  

So, Lynch, if you have written such nice and reusable libraries for  
providing better table objects, why not share it with others? Maybe  
then, rather than have each one of us repeat your work, we may be  
able to start, collaboratively, construct tools of this quality:

4) Structure that encourages and facilitates collaboration

You can, in fact turn your work into reusable libraries, with a bit  
of experience in writing such stacks. People like Eric, Scott, and  
many others have very generously contributed high quality demo  
stacks, but the number of libraries available is just ridiculous  
compared to the ones on rubyforge/sourceforge. In sharp contrast with  
the ruby and java community, these libraries are not shared, there is  
nothing like rubyforge or sourceforge where you can easily provide  
information about your project and receive feedback on them. There is  
nothing like rubyforge or sourceforge where you can get to know of  
the existing projects and get to propose your collaboration.

On top, though it is possible to write libraries, there are aspects  
of the transcript languages which don't really make it pratical to  
consider flexibly using 20-100 libaries. Scott Raney recognized this  
and was apparently planning to work on it. Hence, another *very*  
important paragraph on the Metacard annoucement page (http:// was:
"The MetaTalk language will also be extended to provide a more full  
featured object-oriented programming environment, which will allow  
development of larger-scale applications with MetaCard. The key  
tenants of object-oriented programming - encapsulation, polymorphism,  
and inheritance - are already available in the MetaTalk language, but  
must be extended before MetaCard will be as appropriate for large  
multi-developer projects as it is for the single-user projects that  
are presently its forte. "

In sharp contrast with the work initiated and planned by S. Raney,  
what I have witnessed over the years is a readiness from runrev to  
punish the ones who had made significant contributions to the  
community. Richmond was banished for his views on opensource. Ken's  
stackrunner has been recently not outlawed. Xavier was attacked for  
preferring to use  a product  -- metacard -- that authorizes the  
creation of true open source resource... without any "not allowed to  
do anything that could be interpreted as competition" clause. I have  
heard that despite an official discourse of authorizing freeGui,  
another open source project, Kevin in fact contacted Alain Farmer to  
ask him to stop... or at least make sure it was not too successful.

5) Equalitarian system where the contribution of each person is  
valued the same way

In rubyforge, sourceforge, what counts in the quality of the library.  
There is little information about the professional status of the  
persons involved in each project. Profit and non-profit have the same  
opportunity to have their initiative noticed. There is revonline, but  
it's really nothing compared to rubyforge or sourceforge and there is  
a 10MB limit anyway so you cannot really post anything but toy  
projects there.  As a result, members don't get a chance to get to  
benefit from excellent open source resources already developed by non  
profit members. FYI, in reality, something as good as google earth  
has been realised long ago in our community. It has been advertised  
on our lists. But this person didn't present himself as a  
professional... because he was not one and he apparently largelly  
ignored. The excellent work of Jim Hurley  
and others have suffered similar fates.

A problem, though, is that implementing 1-5 is not adequate with a  
marketing model like the one adopted with Metacard. In fact, a killer  
app like the one outlined above is not meant to appear with that  
marketing model. This is because metacard was originally targeted  to  
a market not interested in this. Because Metacard forced you to pay a  
high entry cost both in terms of money and time for self-learning,  
the best approach, for anybody who paid that entry cost was to aim at  
selling his apps to a small number of clients, develop a rich set of  
libraries for yourself and avoid your possible competitors to get to  
know too much about the libraries you developed.

But now, there is a new marketing strategy of a low entry price,  
which will attract more and more people from a non profit background.

However, keeping both ends of the market appear impossible to me.

In the absence of any work done to address 1-4, this will only create  
crises, like we have seen with Richmond, Xavier, and I guess myself.  
But because runrev is apparently keen to keep the clients interested  
in the metacard line of product, addressing 1-5 will create  
difficulties with these clients. You cannot really charge your client  
for hours of hard work when your client is well aware that a library  
already exist that do all the work.

There is a conundrum that needs to be solved.

Applications like Basecamp will not be built with tools that present  
such a conundrum. At least, I know for myself that I have now decided  
to turn to options other than runrev to develop projects that could  
have given that level of visibility to runrev products.... Despite  
the fact that I consider runrev product to be the very best option to  
realize my project, technically speaking, I have decided to keep away  
from it *because* of that conundrum.

My only hope now is to hear that Lynn has joined runrev. Information  
on the web seems to indicate Lynn has good experience providing  
businesses with guidance to help them become more successful. I have  
read that he spent some time working in Japan. I bet he is familiar  
with the Kaizen method of continuous incremental improvements is an  
originally Japanese management concept for incremental (gradual,  
continuous) change (improvement). This Kaizen philosophy lies behind  
many Japanese management concepts such as Total Quality Control,  
Quality Control circles, small group activities, labor relations. Key  
elements of Kaizen are quality, effort, involvement of all employees,  
willingness to change, and communication.

You will notice that RubyForge and SourceForge in a sense are an  
implementation of the Kaizen methods. That's why progress is so fast  

I  heard the Kaizen method has done wonders here in Scotland:
Kaizen Resultant Gets Lean Government Results in Scotland
By Jon Miller - February 12, 2006 04:23 AM
In Lean government news, kaizen is taking place in the Scottish  
government according to the Scotsman online news. An article titled  
The Man Who Would Save Scottish Industry on Sunday profiled kaizen  
consultant, excuse me, resultant Stuart Ross. Mr. Ross has been doing  
good work with kaizen not only in Scottish industry but is also  
bringing Lean government to Scotland. 

You know the best, this super resultant, Scott Ross, has a hearing  
disability. An excellent lesson of the benefits there are to include  

I am impatient to see how Lynn will use his experience and expertise  
to introduce incremental changes. Runrev active involvement in  
Monterey's  conference was in my view an excellent omen. But there is  
still that conundrum to solve. I am curious to see how runrev will  
get out of it.


Marielle Lange (PhD),  Psycholinguist

Alternative emails: mlange at,

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