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posted by martyb on Saturday November 01 2014, @03:45AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the If-they-released-it-now-it-would-be-called-iCard dept.

HyperCard, an application program and programming tool released for the Apple Macintosh in 1987, represented the ‘computing for the people’ philosophy that enabled users to go past the pre-built software that came on their machines, and to program and build software of their own. "Mac users could use Hypercard to build their own mini-programs to balance their taxes, manage sports statistics, make music – all kinds of individualized software that would be useful (or fun) for individual users." Now Jer Thorp writes that the end of HyperCard left a huge gap that desperately needs to be filled – a space for an easy to use, intuitive tool that will once again let average computer users make their own tools. According to Throp, this type of plain-language programming makes sense, particularly in an application that was designed specifically for non-programmers. "I find the largest concern for learners to be not with the conceptual hurdles involved in writing a program, but with obscure and confusing syntax requirements. I would love to be able to teach HyperTalk to my students, as a smooth on-road to more complex languages like JavaScript, Java or C++." By putting the tools of creation into the hands of the broader userbase, we would allow for the creation of ultra-specific personalized apps that, aside from a few exceptions, don’t exist today."

HyperTalk wasn’t just easy, it was also fairly powerful. Complex object structures could be built to handle complicated tasks, and the base language could be expanded by a variety of available external commands and functions (XCMDs and XFCNs, respectively), which were precursors to the modern plug-in. But ultimately, HyperCard would disappear from Mac computers by the mid-nineties, eclipsed by web browsers and other applications which it had itself inspired. The last copy of HyperCard was sold by Apple in 2004. "One thing that's changed in the intervening decades is that the hobbyist has largely gone by the wayside. Now you're either a user or a full-fledged developer, and the gulf is wider than ever," writes Peter Cohen. "There's really nothing like it today, and I think the Mac is lesser for it."

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @03:57AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @03:57AM (#112114)
    Seriously, we have the web. Sure it's still not as polished, or as intuitive as hypercard was, but it's got a shallow learning curve, it's everywhere, and while it might be taken away from us, it won't be at the hands of a single corporate megalomaniac.
    • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Saturday November 01 2014, @05:58AM

      by davester666 (155) on Saturday November 01 2014, @05:58AM (#112126)

      No, it will be divvied up between all of the corporate megalomaniacs. With a side helping of megalomaniac politicians. And a good dollop of megalomaniac bureaucrats.

    • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Saturday November 01 2014, @07:05AM

      by cafebabe (894) on Saturday November 01 2014, @07:05AM (#112142) Journal

      I've seen video editing in JavaScript. Surely it is possible to implement something like HyperCard in JavaScript?

      --
      1702845791×2
    • (Score: 2) by Arik on Saturday November 01 2014, @11:21AM

      by Arik (4543) on Saturday November 01 2014, @11:21AM (#112165) Journal
      AJAX != THE WEB

      The Web is a communications network, not a programming language. Web pages are documents, not apps.
      --
      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Sunday November 02 2014, @08:43AM

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Sunday November 02 2014, @08:43AM (#112366) Journal

        AJAX != THE WEB

        Let's see ...

        You're right, they don't look even remotely the same.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 2) by Arik on Sunday November 02 2014, @02:50PM

          by Arik (4543) on Sunday November 02 2014, @02:50PM (#112415) Journal
          Try Ajax [wikipedia.org] and the Web [wikipedia.org] and they still dont look very much alike.
          --
          If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
  • (Score: 1) by dltaylor on Saturday November 01 2014, @04:31AM

    by dltaylor (4693) on Saturday November 01 2014, @04:31AM (#112117)

    Back when the Apple Newton ( http://oldcomputers.net/apple-newton.html [oldcomputers.net] ) came out, I really wanted something like it, but not what Apple produced.

    What I wanted was a built-in HyperCard interpreter and none of the other apps, except as packaged HyperCard stacks. Even though I was a dedicated Amiga user, I though the idea of HyperCard for roll-your-own interpreted programming was a great idea, and would have bought a contemporary Mac as the development platform.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @05:17AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @05:17AM (#112121)

    visual basic

    • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @05:30AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @05:30AM (#112123)

      micro $oft

      ewwww

    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @06:38AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @06:38AM (#112138)

      COBOL

    • (Score: 2) by Lagg on Saturday November 01 2014, @08:44AM

      by Lagg (105) on Saturday November 01 2014, @08:44AM (#112147) Homepage Journal

      Glad this was modded insightful instead of troll just because it's a microsoft language. Good job guys. Anyway yeah as much as I dislike most basic dialects as a whole and especially VB it does what hypercard did as far as language structure/syntax goes just fine. Though it's missing things like the card stack which was really nifty.

      --
      http://lagg.me [lagg.me] 🗿
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by HiThere on Saturday November 01 2014, @08:24PM

      by HiThere (866) on Saturday November 01 2014, @08:24PM (#112253) Journal

      Unless visual basic has changed EXTENSIVELY since the last time I saw it, it does not count as a HyperCard replacement. Scratch is much closer, or even Squeak with e-toys.

      OTOH, Scratch is close enough that I suspect that anyone who really wanted to use HyperCard could use it...well, either it or Squeak with etoys. Squeak is more advanced. (I think that Scratch is [or was] written in Squeak, which is a dialect of Smalltalk and quite cross-platform.) etoys is a Squeak visual programming environment, but it doesn't hold your hand the way HyperCard did or Scratch does, not even with etoys installed.

      But my suspicion is that if you think of Visual Basic in this context, that you never used HyperCard.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by tadas on Saturday November 01 2014, @06:30AM

    by tadas (3635) on Saturday November 01 2014, @06:30AM (#112136)

    Links at hypercard.org: http://hypercard.org/ [hypercard.org] (some links are broken)

    Java-based Hypercard clone for Win, Linux, OS X: https://code.google.com/p/openxion/wiki/Installation [google.com]

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by cyrano on Saturday November 01 2014, @10:42AM

    by cyrano (1034) on Saturday November 01 2014, @10:42AM (#112156) Homepage

    Both Supercard and Hyperstudio are still very much alive and kicking.

    See:
    http://www.supercard.us/ [supercard.us]
    http://www.mackiev.com/hyperstudio/ [mackiev.com]

    Those who suggest visual basic obviously have never worked with Hypercard. It's a completely different approach

    --
    The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear. - Kali [kali.org]
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by hemocyanin on Saturday November 01 2014, @04:35PM

      by hemocyanin (186) Subscriber Badge on Saturday November 01 2014, @04:35PM (#112220) Journal

      I remember in the late 80s my chemistry prof using hypercard for something or other, and I've heard over the years how useful and easy it is. So I'm interested. I've never used visual basic so I don't have that as a reference point, but I found supercard to be difficult to use the first time and I think it would be hard for a person who never programmed. I am not an incredibly skilled programmer (I'm a hobbyist) -- I know enough to know I don't know much and all of my experience is text based, not with drag and drop type tools though I'm vaguely aware they exist.

      In TFS, the main selling point of hypercard was apparently, an easily understood syntax. I think that misses the point -- any syntax will be understandable. What I think is hard for people, is rigid syntax, and it turns out that supercard has its own rigid syntax. If I hadn't accidentally stumbled on the documentation, I would still be trying to make a "hello world" alert box (*) that worked instead of spitting out an error about getting to the end of the script unexpectedly or something equally uninforming -- what was obvious was that it was broken because I didn't know the exact magic incantation to make it work.

      So for example, if you make a card, add a button, make sure your icon is the pointer not the hand, double click the button, click the "script" button in the popup, click the "commands" button in the next popup, select "alert" from the dropdown, you see this:

      on mouseUp
      alert [«type»] «prompt» [explain «text»] [without cancel] [time out after «seconds»]
      end mouseUp
       
      NOTE:  some elements inside "[]" are mandatory, some are not.  Trial and error to determine.

      The part that took me 20 minutes (the first ten being spent to get to this point), was figuring out what "type" of alert I was going to use, but not knowing the "type" keywords (**), and unable to find the documentation, all I got was error. Once I found the documentation, it was easy of course (except for the excessive clicking you have to do to get to that point).

      Which brings me to my point -- syntax is NOT the problem. RIGID syntax is. People are used to, and good at, interactions that mean the same thing but come in infinite varieties. Walk to a fastfood counter, say "gimme a number 1" or "may I please have a cheeseburger -- the one with the single patty" or "cheesburg numero uno bro" and the clerk will almost certainly get it, then ask "do you want fries with that?" If the clerk was a rigid syntax computer language, it would fail until you said exactly: "I want cheeseburger number 1." THIS is where people get frustrated with programming.

      --

      (*) Finding the syntax help was much more difficult than I would have expected: not on the website, the help menu search led me to an FAQ with no info -- turns out below the search is a menu item to get to the syntax list, but it didn't register with me for some reason. I may have clicked it too earlier and saw nothing -- in one of the tool windows is a "?" icon which I clicked at some point and got the usual OSX popup about running software downloaded from the web for the first time, meaning the documentation is a separate application. Whatever reason, maybe I'm an idiot, I had a devil of a time finding the documentation.

      (**) [plain|caution|note|stop]

    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Saturday November 01 2014, @08:32PM

      by HiThere (866) on Saturday November 01 2014, @08:32PM (#112256) Journal

      The last time I used it, SuperCard was a botched reimplementation of HyperCard. Botched because in trying to make it more capable they took away the simplicity. HyperStudio at the time I tried it (around 2000) was essentially unusable. Promising...but not there yet. Well, those tries were both over a decade ago, so perhaps they've fixed the problems. I no longer use a Mac so I can't check.

      FWIW, I used the original HyperCard to make music note reading games for my wife to use. Some of them were quite interesting, but they tended to strain the computer capacity (speed, not memory). Today, if they still worked, they'd be much better games.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
      • (Score: 2) by cyrano on Sunday November 02 2014, @08:11PM

        by cyrano (1034) on Sunday November 02 2014, @08:11PM (#112467) Homepage

        I've never really used Supercard, but I did a fairly important project in Hyperstudio back in '96 or so. That project was taken over by the music school students (age 6 to 12). They expanded it until it resembled a musical encyclopedia with their own recordings, info about composers etc. Everything was available to everyone, pupils, teachers, parents, until the powers that be took over and replaced it with... nothing. They couldn't agree about anything. So everything died a silent death.

        Hyperstudio was very easy and very stable. Later on, we moved to Macromedia Director, which was bl**dy expensive, hard to learn and very unstable. We did a big project for the port of Antwerp's "ambassadors", which was never used and cost a bundle. But hey, we made much more money on this one, so I can't complain.

        The reason we used Hyperstudio and not Hypercard was simply because HS has a Windows version.

        I've only seen this kind of development degrading over the years. And now, people even suggest VB to prove that they even can't grasp the basic and fundamental differences...

        --
        The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear. - Kali [kali.org]
  • (Score: 2) by PizzaRollPlinkett on Saturday November 01 2014, @10:51AM

    by PizzaRollPlinkett (4512) on Saturday November 01 2014, @10:51AM (#112157)

    From Python to Scratch to R to VB to web-based CMSes... there is no shortage of tools. The problem is the end of general-purpose computing from the corporations who make the devices and ecosystems people use. When I was growing up, computers came with some kind of BASIC and you could learn how to program the computer yourself. Now you get an iPad or a Chromebook.

    --
    (E-mail me if you want a pizza roll!)
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @04:17PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @04:17PM (#112216)

      The *idea* of making programming easier has been around for a long time.

      I have built a couple 'area specific' languages myself. Almost immediately people try to do things that are not possible in the language. Then you add in a few more features. Then suddenly it is mega complex. Tons of edge cases that do not work right anymore. Hard to debug and follow etc...

      The thing is many people are not able to follow simple instructions let alone create them. Like goto the store and buy just milk and come home. They goto the store and buy 6 things and maybe the milk swing by their buddies house and maybe get some gas. Most people are not pedantic like that. Most people would be chill with the outcome so long as the milk is in the bag somewhere. But that is disastrous to a programmer. You have to be pedantic because the computer is. You are not satisfied with side effects. You want a particular result. Most people do not think that way. If I wanted the 'buddy'/'get gas' result I have to tell the computer exactly what to do. The person may have said 'oh the gas is low too I will get some oh and Brian wanted me to swing by and have a beer' without any instruction from me. A computer would have ignored all of that.

      That is sort of the reason most people do not 'get' computer programming. They think of them as 'magical boxes' because that is the narrative they get from everyone around them and movies/tv. When the reality is they are far from that.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @05:39PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @05:39PM (#112228)

        I remember that there was a fun game for Commodore 64 that taught the basic control structures and a few operators visually: you had to rig up a maze with a certain stock of parts to get a drop of water or something similar from the top (program initialization) to the bottom (exit 0) and accomplish a set of tasks along the way. The control structures were implemented as things like springs and pipes and levers and buttons that would trigger when touched a certain number of times, etc. It was a good introduction to the concepts behind branching and control, all without a line of code.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @10:54AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @10:54AM (#112159)

    When I worked at Working Software in Santa Cruz, California, I ported our Spellswell desk application to a HyperCard plugin. It worked really well.

    I still have the source to it, although it would take some work to actually find it. But I know I do still have it.

    I also write an external for the Acius 4D Database.

    I have felt for quite a long time that we really need something like HyperCard again. Frankly, I find that most of today's software totally sucks rocks. I mean I can barely tolerate to compute anymore.

    Mike Crawford mdcrawford@gmail.com
    (sorry I can't be bothered to reset my password.)

  • (Score: 2) by opinionated_science on Saturday November 01 2014, @12:55PM

    by opinionated_science (4031) on Saturday November 01 2014, @12:55PM (#112181)

    This article has a very similar tone to one over on slash* posted by Hugh Pickens 08:31. This has an earlier time stamp, though I don't know the relative time zones...

    Isn't this sort of thing frowned upon....?

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday November 01 2014, @01:19PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday November 01 2014, @01:19PM (#112186) Journal
      He always submits his SN stories to the Green site too. Maybe other sites too, I don't know.
    • (Score: 2) by unitron on Sunday November 02 2014, @03:18AM

      by unitron (70) on Sunday November 02 2014, @03:18AM (#112329) Journal

      If he submits to both, or even to every site on the web, it's up to each site whether they want to run with it or not. He has no guarantee any of them will use his submission, so he doesn't owe any of them exclusivity.

      Besides, half, or more, of what makes articles worth reading are the comments, and each site will generate a unique set of them.

      Read here, go to /. to get a little different perspective.

      Or start there, and then come here.

      --
      something something Slashcott something something Beta something something
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @01:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01 2014, @01:00PM (#112183)

    You can do this with wiki software. MediaWiki, Confluence and many others have macros. Build your own?

    Yes, Hypercard was quite good. Pity it would crash the Mac.

    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Saturday November 01 2014, @08:35PM

      by HiThere (866) on Saturday November 01 2014, @08:35PM (#112257) Journal

      Which version? Definitely not all version of HyperCard would crash all versions of the Mac, though it *was* a programming language, and a buggy program (any buggy program) could crash the Mac (prior to System 7.2...I don't know about later versions).

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
  • (Score: 2) by Bot on Saturday November 01 2014, @06:59PM

    by Bot (3902) Subscriber Badge on Saturday November 01 2014, @06:59PM (#112238) Journal

    you might want to look at http://wagn.org/ [wagn.org], it's collaborative as a wiki and has database functionality as a... well... hypercard.

    Hypercard opendoc and some aspects of the Newton were personal computing. The problem is that by that time everybody had learned that big monolithic software suites were the way to enslave users into clients. Big monolithic suites them, centralized app market now.

    --
    Account abandoned.
  • (Score: 2) by khedoros on Sunday November 02 2014, @01:07AM

    by khedoros (2921) on Sunday November 02 2014, @01:07AM (#112299)

    I find the largest concern for learners to be not with the conceptual hurdles involved in writing a program, but with obscure and confusing syntax requirements.

    It's a misplaced concern. The "conceptual hurdles" are the hard parts in writing a program; learning obscure and confusing syntax is actually the easy part.

  • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Sunday November 02 2014, @04:19AM

    by darkfeline (1030) on Sunday November 02 2014, @04:19AM (#112348) Homepage

    >Now you're either a user or a full-fledged developer

    Says who? Mass media and corporations? Such a fact has never been true, despite what the Institution would like you to think.

    There's the user who can (just barely) use his computer.
    There's the user who knows his computer very well (power user).
    There's the user who can use Python/shell to script some things on his computer (a programmer?).
    There's the user who starts dabbling in *nix command line (sysadmin?).
    There's the developer who starts writing GUI tools (a power user?).
    There's the developer with lots of experience with scripting, sysadmining, and networking (a guru?).

    While I don't think everyone can be a programmer, there's no reason why users can't learn to script their system (how many bona fide programmers started learning, I wager).

    --
    Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!