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posted by martyb on Saturday November 01 2014, @03:45AM   Printer-friendly
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: 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.

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