"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Friday, March 26, 2004

What is, er, was Hypercard? A rare gem...

From a software architecture point of view, HyperCard had a number of interesting ideas which might bear reexamination. At a time when persistent object stores were still novel, HyperCard was built around one. It's not going too far to say that its user interface was simply a reification of the object database. HyperCard's programming model was object-like, but didn't fall neatly into either the class/instance or delegation styles. Individual visible cards in a stack were created as instances of prototypic backgrounds and could be pre-populated with text fields and action buttons. Default message passing was an odd hybrid of visual containment and fixed object hierarchy. These features, plus a very texty scripting language, seem to have made for a very approachable tool for the nonprofessional coder or database creator. (To my knowledge there was never a study of programming usage and usability of HyperCard. A real gap.)

If you've never created an interactive stack in Hypercard, you've missed one of the rare treats in the history of software development.

I hope some of the lessons you taught are passed on to new projects that allow just plain folks to try out coding and authoring.

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.