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Article:
  An Introduction to AppleScript on Mac OS X
Subject:   real basic claims counterpart to visual basic
Date:   2001-12-22 10:21:35
From:   psheldon
Response to: Wanted: AppleScript sans ObjC info

Salesman claims you don't have to learn frameworks to start making stuff. And it is object oriented, so you can get the new wisdom there, if that is what you want. I think that they might even give some free advice, but I don't know how much. I started reading Joy manuals and found the tutorials soon petered out. The first few chapters gave you the urge to buy and then, soon, I hit the brick wall of unpolished writing. It's always there at the beginnings of things.


Now I give some rambling thoughts. Hey I don't write as good as the guys who write these columns. I try to understand you and I try to understand them, that also makes for rambling. Rambling is risky at Christmas when people might tend to be grouchy.
Agreed, we have a potential polemic here. What the heck is a "potential polemic"?
I know Apple spent big bucks buying Next Step code as part of the deal of getting Steve Jobs to bail out the company. Now they want a return on their investment and that is "us" although I don't think we quite rank with Adobe, etc. However, remember those guys are way cross platform. Already you want to be. Are we that sort of heavyweight? Maybe. Will heavyweights have time to give us wisdom? Lonely out there in the crowd where you and companies are easily replaceable.
One might imagine that were Apple stock to go down then some other language would be the climax plant and cocoa would not get any sunlight. How does a programmer hedge his bets when daytraders get most of the dates? Well programmers pay attention to the quality dates they get and their quality data screens and don't just dose out with 5 second sound bytes, for one thing.
;-)
I learned newtonscript and got a long time friend who gave me some wisdom, who had time to give me wisdom in a small market nitch. That was my bet. Newton is no longer sold, but my friend is still thriving and sending his children to school (a bit less time). I don't think the $1000's I spent on newtons or the time I spent on newtons a waste. I got a lot of confidence and a feel for the magic of guys who make systems or know them so well that they can make compilers. I got a sense of mystery. If you think the guys who make real basic don't know cocoa frameworks themselves, I've heard they are definitely sourced with so called "next step geeks".


I've myself subscribed for maybe five years to ADC CD's and have hardly looked at them because I wanted to get an itch to become an inside mac geek. In fact, I bought inside mac in 1985 before I bought my mac plus or was it even plus computer.


What's an itch?
I wanted to learn to knowledge navigate all the managers of Inside Macintosh (managers now almost defunct). My fantasy was to distribute my own wierd code as a signature of my knowledge in obscure Physics and be found by someone who would give me a suitably wierd life. I did distribute alternate universe navigator and it gave me confidence I could eventually publish something wierd to the more sought after publishers. It also gave my professor confidence. It is hard to keep confidence when you are working on a Ph.D. that takes 17 years.
So that's an itch.


Now they have frameworks, next step frameworks, that Apple might be "desparate" to recoup their investment in. Many think that even hinting desperation means to lose status; with me it means folks with time who aren't beseiged by mobs and charging 90 cents a minute at least at Oreilly. Cocoa isn't quite the nitch market newtonscript was, but there seem to be guys out here who have time to give you the time of day.


I had my fill of huge corporations that translate programs into older languages to make them compatible with the old men who invested themselves in the power structure and want to enforce their legacy honor. Languages develope and leave room for the next generation (even though I'm pretty old myself, I haven't invested in a legacy)! I'm really excited about language developement. You may not be. But languages let you develope science fast and that means less sitdown time economy.


What's sitdown time economy?
That's a guy in charge, drumming his fingers, employed to wait for something to get done with an archaic langauge that he could get cheap, while you get beaten up at a lower salary, tempted to become him, debugging a program and not doing what you should be paid for, doing science or more generally wierd stuff.
For example, I knew a lead software engineer who only got to work on other people's bugs, but was glad when she got something more secret on a grant for herself so she could use a friend incompatible pascal compiler. Other times she was translating Fortran V into Fortran IV and disgusted.
Compatibility to me means that when you get good you are tasked to debugging other people's programs all the time, maybe not so good a deal. Who do you blame when things continue to go wrong? Do you really have friends? Oh, she wept when I left Rockwell. I was the only one who dared to argue with her and then say I admired her moxy, very long ago.


Where does the individual programmer who has taken courses in pseudocode to avoid the religious fanaticism for a language and knows the art and not the hype go? When I took my CS classes about 13 years ago, object oriented programming was not in the coursework. Now, a kid I tutor claims he is learning C++, but his older brother admits to only taking a test in C. What do they study nowadays? I suspect something to bring in large numbers of the uneducated to value their language, not guys with legacies dragging behind them. But, I have my legacy dragging behind, my ability to learn science and structured things, to compose. Is that your normal legacy dragging sort of thing. Is that your legacy dragging sort of thing? You know a lot of programming, have that experience. Is your old code your experience? Or is it rather your capacity, that you've learned through experience, to experience.
I consider myself a student. I've learned that I can learn. I haven't learned that I can contribute, yet.
Times are changing from the old pseudocode. Perhaps the textbooks are dealing with object oriented pseudocode. I imagine that the guys who made the os x system studied and maybe even wrote those text books. You can't get the textbooks they wrote to Apple's managers. There's mishy moshy stuff in the threads with guys asking what to do about one or another speicalized thing and other guys answering. I could go there and cry out I didn't get my colored pen to work and hope some kind soul would debug my code or I could see if I have learned anything from all the columns I read and pound my answer into a subject line to hit everyone's interest as a genuine contribution. Could I do that? I don't know, but I know how to go there. Maybe my complaining about the threads is because I am chicken about writing too much or too little to them.


I enjoyed data structures course. That was in pseudocode. I'd like to merge the idea of doing data structures and doing objects not have somebody debate with me the virtue of objects over data structures, someone who hasn't taken the course.


There is also something I am finding following columns on cocoa or obj-c. As a guy writes a column longer and longer, he sort of developes skill in his rendering language. Maybe it is the use of some other guy's language and maybe it is his own.
It is reminiscent of my friend in newtonscript, a friend who wrote a compiler with apple's compiler to build with. Terse language using object oriented terms. My newtonscript friend could give me a hint on how to program using very few words He made hypertext documents for newtonscript and with just those keywords pointed me in the hyperscript. I learned he had wisdom, I learned I wanted to be like him.
Yeah I have misgivings that perhaps these columns aren't going to teach me to do my science but rather have me join a pyramid scheme of cocoa salesmen, but I am not too afraid of this, perhaps because I find I can read the columns real fast now and it isn't all that much of an investment. I am also seeing how these guys make a story out of something that I couldn't as yet and that is a very general talent, nonlanguage specific.


Well, I hope that you got some ideas to inspire. This wasn't all that heavy technical reading so it should have been a quick read. It wasn't a quick write. Having choices (do I do real basic, do I learn a difficult new language to be in a small intimate group for awhile until the world changes, do I become a daytrader with a four hour attention span of money) isn't necessarily a curse. I'm slogging along and finding out how.


I knew a guy who joined many many clubs in high school but was not a member of one of them. He would duck his head in the door and merely ask, "is everything in order". He got into Harvard for his leadership abilities. I don't want to be like him.


Join a club you like. See where you go. It's an adventure just being yourself, sometimes I find it scary, and Merry Christmas.