TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Dec 95 Viewpoint
Volume Number:11
Issue Number:12
Column Tag:Viewpoint

Viewpoint

By Scott T Boyd, Editor-at-Large

When I first saw Dylan, years ago when I was still at Apple, I dropped everything and ran out to get documentation. Wow! Even with a Lispy syntax, the language grabbed my interest. The rumor (yes, even people inside Apple often wonder what’s really going on) was that Dylan was being developed for the Newton, but some big hoo-haa happened. Nevertheless, only two years later the Dylan team gave a powerful presentation to a standing-room only crowd at WWDC. The room stayed filled to overflowing for the duration, and the audience sat in rapt attention. Dylan clearly had the right stuff.

From its inception, Macintosh offered a Pascal interface to a machine built with 68K assembly language. Over time C got its foot in the door, then forced its way all the way in. It didn’t matter that C programmers (and compiler writers) had to go out of their way to conform to Pascal calling conventions. Maybe C programmers always expected life to be a little harder. Pascal retreated to second-class citizen status about the same time that C++ appeared on the scene. Again, it didn’t matter that C++ builds took hours, nor that debugging tools were initially completely inadequate. C and C++ clearly won the battle for market share. Pascal holdouts developed a double frustration (as if it wasn’t bad enough that they were developing for a machine with only a tiny fraction of the overall market share).

As one of those frustrated Pascal programmers, I did the only sensible thing - I turned to 68K assembly language. No sense in using it to do simple things, though. After all, a bunch of my C++ NuFinder friends were getting lots of hours in on the video games. I couldn’t let them get too much practice without getting in some of my own, so I put 68K assembly language to its best possible use - building Macintosh system software. That often took hours, just like NuFinder!

So along comes Dylan. What grabbed me? I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t think the ephemeral garbage collector did it, nor did the clean exception model. I raised my eyebrow at the direct dispatching of events and the resulting elimination of the need for almost all conditional expressions. Those paled in comparison, though, to the dynamic, interactive programming environment.

What does that mean? You can execute your program, halt it when it misbehaves, fix some code, and resume execution! “But wait!” you say. “How can this be? Where’s my video game practice time in this process?” Wasn’t there supposed to be a big compile time followed by an excruciatingly-long link time? Oh, sure, Metrowerks and Symantec have knocked that time down considerably, but there’s still time for a good cup of ’jo in a small project build, or even a full game of CyberBall while building something the size of Cyberdog.

I hesitate to even mention that I once programmed in BASIC. After all, how serious can a language be when you don’t even have to deal with a compiler or a linker? What I do remember was how productive I felt in the interactive environment. I could write code, run it, test it, and write some more, all in the span of a few seconds. I didn’t realize how much I missed that experience until I saw Dylan. Ease-of-use? The Macintosh experience brought to the developer’s doorstep?

Of course, it was too good to be true. The demo was great, the team was stellar, and Apple couldn’t deliver. After untold millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours of work, Apple disbanded the Cambridge team and sent them packing (and just about the time that Dylan implementations were showing up other platforms, too!). Bummer!

I’ve been waiting for a Dylan-like experience for years. Is it time? Although I know that I’ll hear the old “common sense” harangues about performance and footprint, I’ll say it anyway. Yes. Times are a-changin’, and common sense warrants reconsideration from time to time. I’ll measure acceptable performance by two standards. First, does my performance increase? I don’t care how fast a compiler can consume thousands of lines of C code, a compiler that incrementally compiles code during a “Save” beats it every time. Second, do my applications compare favorably with best-selling software on footprint and speed? Sure, I remember the days when we slaved to fit a system and an application onto a single 400K floppy, but larger floppies (how big a floppy is the Internet anyway?), compression, and machines bigger than the minicomputers of less than a decade ago changed all the rules.

I’ll leave you with this thought: Mike Lockwood, former Dylan frameworks engineer, said to me during a demo back in ’94, “One of these has to succeed. I don’t really care which, as long as one of them does.” The other one? QKS’ SmalltalkAgents. See for yourself at <http://www.qks.com/>

Top 10 Again

We’ve now heard more from Apple about the MacHack Top Ten. I must commend the author of this response for overcoming many of the criticisms I voiced here last month. While not really saying much, this latest response leaves less room for caustic comment. Check out Apple’s latest at <http://www.machack.com/>.

Food For Thought

Ask Yahoo <http://www.yahoo.com/> about languages and you’ll see numbers like this: C++ - 109 matches, Visual Basic - 86 matches, Java - 68 matches, Smalltalk - 21 matches, AppleScript - 8 matches, HyperTalk - 1 match.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

GraphicConverter 10.5.4 - $39.95
GraphicConverter is an all-purpose image-editing program that can import 200 different graphic-based formats, edit the image, and export it to any of 80 available file formats. The high-end editing... Read more
Dash 4.1.3 - Instant search and offline...
Dash is an API documentation browser and code snippet manager. Dash helps you store snippets of code, as well as instantly search and browse documentation for almost any API you might use (for a full... Read more
Microsoft OneNote 16.9 - Free digital no...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that's too important to forget. Whether you're at... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 2.9.17 - Knowledge base,...
Save 10% with our exclusive coupon code: MACUPDATE10 DEVONthink Pro is your essential assistant for today's world, where almost everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research... Read more
OmniGraffle 7.6 - Create diagrams, flow...
OmniGraffle helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use Graffle to... Read more
iFinance 4.3.7 - Comprehensively manage...
iFinance allows you to keep track of your income and spending -- from your lunchbreak coffee to your new car -- in the most convenient and fastest way. Clearly arranged transaction lists of all your... Read more
Opera 50.0.2762.58 - High-performance We...
Opera is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content... Read more
Microsoft Office 2016 16.9 - Popular pro...
Microsoft Office 2016 - Unmistakably Office, designed for Mac. The new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote provide the best of both worlds for Mac users - the familiar Office... Read more
SoftRAID 5.6.4 - High-quality RAID manag...
SoftRAID allows you to create and manage disk arrays to increase performance and reliability. SoftRAID allows the user to create and manage RAID 4 and 5 volumes, RAID 1+0, and RAID 1 (Mirror) and... Read more
OmniGraffle Pro 7.6 - Create diagrams, f...
OmniGraffle Pro helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Around the Empire: What have you missed...
Around this time every week we're going to have a look at the comings and goings on the other sites in Steel Media's pocket-gaming empire. We'll round up the very best content you might have missed, so you're always going to be up to date with the... | Read more »
The 7 best games that came out for iPhon...
Well, it's that time of the week. You know what I mean. You know exactly what I mean. It's the time of the week when we take a look at the best games that have landed on the App Store over the past seven days. And there are some real doozies here... | Read more »
Popular MMO Strategy game Lords Mobile i...
Delve into the crowded halls of the Play Store and you’ll find mobile fantasy strategy MMOs-a-plenty. One that’s kicking off the new year in style however is IGG’s Lords Mobile, which has beaten out the fierce competition to receive Google Play’s... | Read more »
Blocky Racing is a funky and fresh new k...
Blocky Racing has zoomed onto the App Store and Google Play this week, bringing with it plenty of classic kart racing shenanigans that will take you straight back to your childhood. If you’ve found yourself hooked on games like Mario Kart or Crash... | Read more »
Cytus II (Games)
Cytus II 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: "Cytus II" is a music rhythm game created by Rayark Games. It's our fourth rhythm game title, following the footsteps of three... | Read more »
JYDGE (Games)
JYDGE 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Build your JYDGE. Enter Edenbyrg. Get out alive. JYDGE is a lawful but awful roguehate top-down shooter where you get to build your... | Read more »
Tako Bubble guide - Tips and Tricks to S...
Tako Bubble is a pretty simple and fun puzzler, but the game can get downright devious with its puzzle design. If you insist on not paying for the game and want to manage your lives appropriately, check out these tips so you can avoid getting... | Read more »
Everything about Hero Academy 2 - The co...
It's fair to say we've spent a good deal of time on Hero Academy 2. So much so, that we think we're probably in a really good place to give you some advice about how to get the most out of the game. And in this guide, that's exactly what you're... | Read more »
Everything about Hero Academy 2: Part 3...
In the third part of our Hero Academy 2 guide we're going to take a look at the different modes you can play in the game. We'll explain what you need to do in each of them, and tell you why it's important that you do. [Read more] | Read more »
Everything about Hero Academy 2: Part 2...
In this second part of our guide to Hero Academy 2, we're going to have a look at the different card types that you're going to be using in the game. We'll split them up into different sections too, to make sure you're getting the most information... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple restocked Certified Refurbished 13″ Mac...
Apple has restocked a full line of Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ MacBook Airs starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: – 13″ 1.8GHz/8GB/128GB... Read more
How to find the lowest prices on 2017 Apple M...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ 2017 MacBook Pros available for $200 to $420 off the cost of new models. Apple’s refurbished prices are the lowest available for each model from any... Read more
The lowest prices anywhere on Apple 12″ MacBo...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$240 off the cost of new models. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Apple now offering a full line of Certified R...
Apple is now offering Certified Refurbished 2017 10″ and 12″ iPad Pros for $100-$190 off MSRP, depending on the model. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: –... Read more
27″ iMacs on sale for $100-$130 off MSRP, pay...
B&H Photo has 27″ iMacs on sale for $100-$130 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2199 $100 off MSRP – 27″ 3.... Read more
2.8GHz Mac mini on sale for $899, $100 off MS...
B&H Photo has the 2.8GHz Mac mini (model number MGEQ2LL/A) on sale for $899 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Apple offers Certified Refurbished iPad minis...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 128GB iPad minis available today for $339 including free shipping. Apple’s standard one-year warranty is included. Their price is $60 off MSRP. Read more
Amazon offers 13″ 256GB MacBook Air for $1049...
Amazon has the 13″ 1.8GHz/256B #Apple #MacBook Air on sale today for $150 off MSRP including free shipping: – 13″ 1.8GHz/256GB MacBook Air (MQD42LL/A): $1049.99, $150 off MSRP Read more
9.7-inch 2017 WiFi iPads on sale starting at...
B&H Photo has 9.7″ 2017 WiFi #Apple #iPads on sale for $30 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and pay sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 32GB iPad WiFi: $299, $30 off – 128GB iPad WiFi... Read more
Wednesday deal: 13″ MacBook Pros for $100-$15...
B&H Photo has 13″ #Apple #MacBook Pros on sale for up to $100-$150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Store Leader - Retail District Manag...
Job Description: Job Summary As more and more people discover Apple , they visit our retail stores seeking ways to incorporate our products into their lives. It's Read more
Sr. Experience Designer, Today at *Apple* -...
# Sr. Experience Designer, Today at Apple Job Number: 56495251 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 18-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
Security Applications Engineer, *Apple* Ret...
# Security Applications Engineer, Apple Retail Job Number: 113237456 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 17-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 113384559 Brandon, Florida, United States Posted: 10-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Are you passionate about Read more
Art Director, *Apple* Music + Beats1 Market...
# Art Director, Apple Music + Beats1 Marketing Design Job Number: 113258081 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 05-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.