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Why Was Hypercard Killed?

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the programming-has-to-be-hard dept.

Programming 392

theodp writes "Steve Jobs took the secret to his grave, but Stanislav Datskovskiy offers some interesting and illustrated speculation on why HyperCard had to die. 'Jobs was almost certainly familiar with HyperCard and its capabilities,' writes Datskovskiy. 'And he killed it anyway. Wouldn't you love to know why? Here's a clue: Apple never again brought to market anything resembling HyperCard. Despite frequent calls to do so. Despite a more-or-less guaranteed and lively market. And I will cautiously predict that it never will again. The reason for this is that HyperCard is an echo of a different world. One where the distinction between the "use" and "programming" of a computer has been weakened and awaits near-total erasure. A world where the personal computer is a mind-amplifier, and not merely an expensive video telephone. A world in which Apple's walled garden aesthetic has no place.' Slashdotters have bemoaned the loss of HyperCard over the past decade, but Datskovskiy ends his post on a keep-hope-alive note, saying: 'Contemplate the fact that what has been built once could probably be built again.' Where have you gone, Bill Atkinson, a nation of potential programmers turns its lonely eyes to you."

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Apple is the 1970s computer maker (3, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217014)

In the 1970s, one manufacturer made the hardware, operating system and (most of) the software.

Apple wanted to resurrect that model in the 1990s and got beaten back by the "open" architecture PC clones, which were from a more flexible type of system.

Apple finally rediscovered its favorite business model in the iPhone, because cell phone customers haven't yet figured out that phones are little computers with antennas now.

Jobs and his cronies killed Hypercard because it would have thwarted that model. With Hypercard, all software was driven by a powerful database and configured as interface. It would have revolutionized the web and how we make custom software (now done in VBscript) today.

But, it might have let things get out of control, and Apple couldn't allow that.

Not this shit again... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217078)

Look, the average user is not us. The average user doesn't want to program their computer. The average user is, in fact, in the market for an expensive video telephone that also plays Angry Birds. That's why HyperCard was killed, and why the company that killed it went on to make literally unimaginable amounts of money. I don't like Steve Jobs or the direction Apple has gone in the past twenty years but I'm not going to delude myself into thinking that "what I like" is "what everyone wants and needs"; there are enough people here already doing that.

Re:Not this shit again... (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217194)

Look, the average user is not us. The average user doesn't want to program their computer. The average user is, in fact, in the market for an expensive video telephone that also plays Angry Birds. That's why HyperCard was killed, and why the company that killed it went on to make literally unimaginable amounts of money. I don't like Steve Jobs or the direction Apple has gone in the past twenty years but I'm not going to delude myself into thinking that "what I like" is "what everyone wants and needs"; there are enough people here already doing that.

beh. the average office drone actually needs/wants to get easier. hypercards helped with that kind of stuff. they were used by now bald senile geezers to do stuff that nowadays turns into a fucking web app with a 9 month acquirement/development contract. I suppose it helps the economy in some weird way though. same goes by the way to desktop access databases which have their place. nowadays it's put online after being contracted to some php dweebs.

you want the real reason hypercard got killed? Jobs had too much riding personally on tech from next.

next.

Re:Not this shit again... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217296)

beh. the average office drone actually needs/wants to get easier. hypercards helped with that kind of stuff. they were used by now bald senile geezers to do stuff that nowadays turns into a fucking web app with a 9 month acquirement/development contract.

No it doesn't, it gets done with an Excel macro, which is a more appropriate tool. Hypercard was fucking awesome if you were a kid trying to learn a bit about programming, but it never had a place in the business world. And even if it had tried to cater to that market, Apple didn't have the market penetration for it to matter.

Re:Not this shit again... (3, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217378)

Or Excel.

As a developer my first instinct was to baulk.. but I've come to accept that Excel can be pretty useful for ultra simple business "apps". Most business-y stuff revolves around tables of numbers anyway.. throw a little VB logic in there and you can get a lot done for very little effort (and you won't even miss that chunk of inner child).

Re:Not this shit again... (5, Insightful)

Slashdot Assistant (2336034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217490)

FileMaker Pro and Excel cover the bulk of small-scale tools and automation needs in the office. AppleScript and Automator bind them together to be able to build some pretty good systems. You may be romanticizing the old days. Just as now, most people had neither the ability nor the inclination to make things easier. HyperCard was powerful and relatively accessible. Let's not kid ourselves though that the average number cruncher or sales guy in an office is going to fire it up and quickly churn-out a CRM system that isn't a piece of shit?

It's mostly pot-luck if someone in the office has a hacker mentality or even enough of an interest to begin coding/scripting. Given how computing in general has changed, I'd suspect that a smaller percentage of people are coming in to today's workforce with a hacker mentality. How many people below the age of 30 would have begun with computers that dropped them straight in to BASIC? How many computer magazines these days publish code listings, compared to in the 80s?

Re:Not this shit again... (5, Informative)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217602)

"How many computer magazines these days publish code listings, compared to in the 80s?"

Github alone hosts well over one million accounts. Welcome to the 21th century.

Re:Not this shit again... (5, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217938)

"How many computer magazines these days publish code listings, compared to in the 80s?"

I miss those days. Copy typing in a progran for hours from the magazine. Finally to type RUN, and see the glorious "SN error at 30", and the dawning realization that you had hours more of trying to figure out your typos, or worse trying to figure out what they had misprinted. Then to finally get it to run only to discover the magazine artists had shown great artistic license with their artwork next to the program listing.
Finally to forget to save it to tape, shut off your computer, and realize you could do it all again tomorrow. :) Those were the days.

Also, get off my lawn.

Re:Not this shit again... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217764)

i'm not romanticing it.

I never used it(hypercard). never ever. but people who should have been using excel(and equivalents), filemaker pro and such were using hypercards to get shit done, according to them anyways. not complex stuff, but things that people(of roughly the same category) nowadays seem to use 100 row wide excel sheets for.

Re:Not this shit again... (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217196)

With you, and it sucks.

I've come to accept that what is best for most users, best for software in general, hell best for technology in general tends to directly conflict with the way I personally want things to work.

Web apps, "the cloud", computers being replaced with media appliances, software development being more about understanding all the existing technologies out there and how to glue them together than doing actual problem solving (big time if you've done the Java thing but even our venerable c++ is going that way), software as a service .. all things I hate, but I get that this is the result of the universe evolving itself into something that makes more sense.

Re:Not this shit again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217218)

delude myself into thinking that "what I like" is "what everyone wants and needs";

And now you get to support VBScript! Woo!

But don't hinder the average user from becoming us (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217226)

Look, the average user is not us.

But that doesn't mean Apple has to actively hinder the average user from becoming us.

Re:But don't hinder the average user from becoming (1, Insightful)

ocdude (932504) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217728)

The average user doesn't want to become us. They want to get stuff done and not have to think about the underlying application or hardware or even HOW they are getting their tasks accomplished.

Re:But don't hinder the average user from becoming (5, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217768)

But that doesn't mean Apple has to actively hinder the average user from becoming us.

No, it doesn't. I figure Apple does it out of benevolence to the human race.

Re:But don't hinder the average user from becoming (5, Informative)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217828)

> But that doesn't mean Apple has to actively hinder the average user from becoming us.

They don't.

HC was dead long before Jobs returned. It hadn't seen a major release in years, and the lead develop was the only guy left on the team. I don't even think he was there when they bought OpenStep, let alone when Jobs took the helm.

The only people saying otherwise are the haters here on /. and in an article by someone who admits to not really knowing. This is simply an example of people seeing what they want to see. This is why conspiracy theories are so prevalent.

Rejected (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217916)

The conspiracy theory isn't entirely unfounded, however. RunRev made something similar to HyperCard, and Apple rejected it from the App Store [slashdot.org] .

Re:Not this shit again... (3, Insightful)

robmv (855035) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217384)

Centuries ago (in some parts of the world a mere fraction of a century): Look, the average person is not us, The average person doesn't want to read and write, they only want to follow the rules we write and read for them.

Stop being elitist, some day people will have the tools to solve their computing problems themselves. Regular users write spreadsheets, add formulas, add simple scripts, they only need better tools to do more than that

Re:Not this shit again... (2)

kerohazel (913211) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217544)

That's not "average". That's the lowest common denominator. Plenty of creative people aren't programmers. There is a whole spectrum of users put there.

Or did you miss that whole MySpace thing, when everyone and their dog was embedding HTML in their little corner of the web? It wasn't pretty, but there's no denying there was demand.

Re:Not this shit again... (5, Insightful)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217710)

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of DEC

Steve Jobs also famously said that the people don't know what they want until it is shown to them. He spoke of Henry Ford, saying that if he had asked what people wanted before the automotive revolution, they'd say a faster horse.

I don't believe people don't want to program. In fact, they absolutely do want to program. They just don't want to learn a programming language to do it. Natural language programming and learned skillsets are how we teach children. Few people want to use a calendar, but you can talk to Siri, and it interfaces for you. Few people want to work spreadsheets, but Mint.com does all of the calculations for you.

People want to be in control. They just want that control to conform to their natural skill sets, not new obscure skill sets.

Re:Not this shit again... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217754)

If that is really the case then you don't need some platform tyrant because "The Invisible Hand" will do that work for you.

They tyrant is simply unnecessary.

In truth, a more accessible approach to programming harms no one. It does not really alter the "aesthetic" and it doesn't "bother" the end users that ignore it anyways.

The scarier interfaces in MacOS are a great demonstration of this.

Re:Not this shit again... (2, Insightful)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217940)

Look, the average user is not us. The average user doesn't want to program their computer. The average user is, in fact, in the market for an expensive video telephone that also plays Angry Birds.

Isn't it possible that this is because Apple and others trained the average user to believe that?

Re:Apple is the 1970s computer maker (5, Interesting)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217112)

So, you believe Apple is a bunch of fascists, and for that reason they killed one of their programming languages? Baloney. Steve Jobs was the one on stage at NeXT showing how even a child could write GUI apps. He made XCode free and bundled it with every boxed copy of OS X back in 2001 when Microsoft required a paid dev account.

Re:Apple is the 1970s computer maker (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217318)

Steve Jobs was the one on stage at NeXT showing how even a child could write GUI apps. He made XCode free and bundled it with every boxed copy of OS X back in 2001 when Microsoft required a paid dev account.

That was back when few people bought slow, expensive NeXT boxes over PCs or Unix workstations. Telling them 'it's slow, it's expensive and it won't let you run anything unless we say so' would have utterly killed any market it might have had.

Re:Apple is the 1970s computer maker (5, Insightful)

voidptr (609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217692)

XCode is still free with OS X today, long after Apple absorbed NeXT. Plus, Apple has dumped plenty of resources into XCode and Cocoa every year to make it easier and easier to do simple programming tasks of the sort which is being discussed, things like Core Data and Bindings on top of Interface Builder.

Re:Apple is the 1970s computer maker (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217936)

It's only free for Mac OS X 10.7 users. That's shit.

Re:Apple is the 1970s computer maker (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217252)

With Hypercard, all software was driven by a powerful database and configured as interface. It would have revolutionized the web and how we make custom software (now done in VBscript) today.

If you think custom web software is all being written using VBscript, I don't know what to tell you. In 2001, maybe - in 2011, definitely not.

From HyperCard to PhotoCard (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217024)

Where have you gone, Bill Atkinson, a nation of potential programmers turns its lonely eyes to you.

Bill Atkinson: ... and that is how HyperCard works. Sir, HyperCard stands to transform most of your average users in application developers. It will be liberating and put the world at their ...
Steve Jobs: People don't "want" to be liberated. People don't want to think. People don't want to have the burden of imagination placed on them. They want my imagination superimposed on top of theirs. They want what I tell them to want.
Bill Atkinson: ... okay ...
Steve Jobs: Nobody knows what to do with your 'HyperCard' program, look at all those buttons. All those buttons screaming at me, all night long. Pushing me into the lockers. Stealing my lunch money. NO MORE BUTTONS.
*hurls a paperweight as hard as he can several feet from his desk*
Bill Atkinson: Um, we can change the UI ...
Steve Jobs: More than that, trim it down. Just a few options. 'Applications' is too broad -- too many branching factors.
Bill Atkinson: Well, we could limit it to just database applications ...
Steve Jobs: No, you know what people like? Photography. Make it make photos! Hold on a second ...
*Jobs snorts a huge line of cocaine off his desk*
Steve Jobs: Oh jesus that was good. Wait, wait I'm getting something ahhhh ahhhh la la la la la ahhh I'm getting something. Write this down: Postcard making application ... ahhh that takes your photos and sends them to people ... ahhh over the goddamn internet ... with very few buttons.
Bill Atkinson: Sir, you're throwing away such a powerful application for mere postcard func ...
Steve Jobs: Goddamnit Atkinson, this is exactly what HyperCard -- I mean PhotoCard -- needs to make it out there. Now go forth and do!
Bill Atkinson: Yes my master ...

And that's where Bill Atkinson has gone [youtube.com] !

Re:From HyperCard to PhotoCard (3, Interesting)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217150)

Bad caricature of Steve. Doesn't match reality.
"You watch television to turn your brain off and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on."
-- Steve Jobs, Macworld Magazine, February 2004

Re:From HyperCard to PhotoCard (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217210)

Bad caricature of Steve. Doesn't match reality. "You watch television to turn your brain off and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on." -- Steve Jobs, Macworld Magazine, February 2004

MacWorld? Is that just an Apple mouthpiece to make the users feel good about themselves? How did he reveal himself to investors?

"It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."

-- Steve Jobs as quoted in BusinessWeek (25 May 1998)

Re:From HyperCard to PhotoCard (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217474)

Which is true. Have you ever written software for customers? Outside of vague generalities most of them don't know exactly what they want. And this isn't some statement only about "lusers" as I've come across this even from highly technical people too.

Re:From HyperCard to PhotoCard (1)

marcovje (205102) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217664)

I would like to widen that from "not exactly" to "not at all".

Re:From HyperCard to PhotoCard (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217240)

Sad/annoying/depressing thing is.. he was kinda right.

I'm definitely no fan of Steve Jobs or Apple .. but I have to admit they identified the subset of functionality that most people wanted and nailed it. It sucks that powerful computers full of potential are being replaced with locked down portable facebook appliances .. but that's what most people want.

Re:From HyperCard to PhotoCard (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217588)

ah... no. It's what most people have been given. It is a failing of developers and PHB's.. They FAIL to realize the power of dynamically typed UI. They fail to realize the power of animation. They fail fail fail.

The reason apple is special is because Steve Jobs shouted down developers (probably reading this now - you - yes.. YOU) that obviously have no connection to their user base.

(The API's of windows and Android all come off like premature optimization. The thing got apple right was the power of Objective-C over C - and most of you developers that read this STILL won't get it. C++ - even Java - are horrible UI metaphors. You start with trash, you end up with trash)

Re:From HyperCard to PhotoCard (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217756)

They FAIL to realize the power of dynamically typed UI.

What would non-geeks actually use that for?

For that matter, how many people actually use their computer for much beyond a communications device. Writing reports, preparing presentations, reading/sending email, talking on facebook, and viewing/publishing info on the web... that's most of what people use their computers for, and very little of that is aided substantially by a dynamic UI.

Maybe an argument for number crunching .. but there is Excel for that.

As developers we want our users to want the same things we do.. but they don't.

Re:From HyperCard to PhotoCard (1)

Millennium (2451) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217778)

C++ - even Java - are horrible UI metaphors

Um... how are C++ and Java UI metaphors?

Re:From HyperCard to PhotoCard (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217526)

Damn I miss Hypercard. But I carry on: I can now embarrass myself with HTML and JavaScript - so, in essence, life is still good!

Re:From HyperCard to PhotoCard (2)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217668)

That needs to be made into a South Park episode!

The spirit lives on (3, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217030)

The spirit of hypercard was easy content creation/scripting by users. Over time that became Geocities, and now it's Facebook. Very few people want to program as an end in itself, and it's not like hypertext went away, the tools just became progressively less low-level and geeky.

Re:The spirit lives on (4, Insightful)

Forbman (794277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217186)

Actually, I think that more than a few do, but the current programming tools are actually more or less for those who do it for a living.

BillG was right - give the amateurs a decent enough tool to make THEIR lives more interesting. Granted, it does then frustrate the hell out of the professionals at work when these amateur hacks somehow metastasize off of their original builder's desktop and becomes a business tool, but... the wiser of us then see this as an opportunity to come up with a spec for a "real" application that is much closer to how the people actually doing that work see and do their work...

Re:The spirit lives on (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217848)

> Actually, I think that more than a few do, but the current programming tools are actually more or less for those who do it for a living.

This is it right here. As systems have gotten more complex, so have the APIs and languages. Things that used to be relatively simple to do even in assembler are far more complicated to the point of driving way all but the most stubborn.

Programming doesn't have to be purely the domain of the specialist.

Stuff like Hypercard is all about lowering barriers and allowing users to do for themselves.

Sometimes what you want is not wrapped up in a nice bow.

Re:The spirit lives on (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217506)

Take a look at MIT Scratch [mit.edu] ... Hypercard it is not, but it is an insanely simple parallel procedural programming system (aimed at 14 year olds). "Millions" of apps have been written and shared in Scratch. A lot of these "apps" are just kids drawing a picture with the included paint program. If that's what they want to do, more power to 'em. If they want to go further and make a flipping storyboard, or add music or sprite animation they can.

Computers should serve people as they want to be served - we should have more programming languages like Hypercard and Scratch, not less.

All you need is the proof... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217046)

Great conspiracy, all it needs is any rational evidence that HyperCard was ever going to do any of the things TFA claims it would've. I don't see anything along those lines in the article, but then its hard to hear anything over the sound of the author grinding his axe...

Supercard was available after Hypercard cancelled (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217080)

Supercard didn't flourish. The market was just too tiny. In many ways, Filemaker and similar apps filled the niche.

If people REALLY wanted a Hypercard-like program, there were alternatives.

Re:Supercard was available after Hypercard cancell (4, Insightful)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217254)

Any cancelled project that was *truly* useful has several open-source versions of the same idea. So, where is hypercard for linux?

Not all canceled projects (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217354)

Any cancelled project that was *truly* useful has several open-source versions of the same idea.

Then what's the open-source version of the English translation of Nintendo's Famicom game Mother? Or perhaps you exclude games from "truly useful".

Re:Not all canceled projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217606)

Well, one of them is caled "FCEUX [fceux.com] ".

Any other questions?

Re:Not all canceled projects (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217994)

I have three more questions:
  • FCEUX requires a copy of the game in order to run it. How does one obtain a lawful copy of this game that was never released?
  • What's the open-source version of the canceled third-person shooter StarCraft: Ghost?
  • What's the open-source version of the canceled space shooter Star Fox 2?

Re:Supercard was available after Hypercard cancell (3, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217470)

Supercard was expensive, it's not the sort of thing a parent would buy on a whim. The beauty of Hypercard is that it came with the OS so kids could discover the joy of coding on their own. The language was designed so a person reading the source could start to figure it out quickly. It was the perfect gateway language.

Unfortunately, Hypercard gave way to Hypercard Player, which then became a specialized commercial product, and at that point Hypercard as phenomenon was dead.

So what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217082)

I played around with Hypercard back in its earliest form, and as far as I can tell, the spiritual successor to it is PowerPoint and all its clones.

Why bemoan the loss of a particular implementation of an idea, when the niche is still filled by something else?

Re:So what? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217758)

That's true if all you're using Hypercard for is to display pictures and hit "next", maybe with a little sound/animation if you're feeling ambitious, however Hypercard was capable of so much more. Even a tiny bit of Hypertalk knowledge would let you blow Powerpoint out of the water. It may have looked like a stack of slides, but Hypercard was a full on development environment.

And while you're at it... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217088)

bring back Cyberdog [cyberdog.org] , which made it easy for users to do their own web mashups.

Why? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217104)

Why be born with such a painful, useless thing? Anyone who says otherwise is a token loli. And token lolis... need censorship.

Occam's Razor (5, Interesting)

ink (4325) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217142)

Or, it could be that all those fond memories of Hypercard are exaggerated. I can't recall even one such application that was useful apart from simple educational games. The challenge in creating a GUI-based development system has been tackled many times [wikipedia.org] . The most recent one that I have used is the default Mindstorms programming environment LabView [wikipedia.org] , which I quickly discarded for a gcc-based environment.

The one killing blow that keeps me from really using these environments is that they are fundamentally incompatible with version control. This means that they cannot be large projects, or have much collaboration -- relegating them to trivial systems, which are all I remember Hypercard being.

Re:Occam's Razor (4, Informative)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217382)

Myst [wikipedia.org] , which was a run-away hit selling millions of copies, was originally done in HyperCard.

Re:Occam's Razor (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217576)

LabView [wikipedia.org] , which I quickly discarded for a gcc-based environment.

The one killing blow that keeps me from really using these environments is that they are fundamentally incompatible with version control. This means that they cannot be large projects, or have much collaboration -- relegating them to trivial systems, which are all I remember Hypercard being.

I "invented" a flow based graphical programming system for my Master's Thesis decades ago, while I was writing it up, I tripped across HyperCard and LabView, which both did very similar things. These systems are excellent for certain applications, especially signal processing with LabView. There's nothing inherently incompatible about LabView and version control, you can build hierarchical systems and make changes at any level, just like subroutine calls. The source code itself checks into subversion just like any other. They may lack "automatic redline change" illumination, but that's not an impossible thing to add if anybody wanted it.

True that most LabView projects are single developer, and that's probably why change illumination and collaboration aren't well supported. The scope of most signal processing problems is such that a single person, working with a tool like LabView, can usually handle it on their own.

Re:Occam's Razor (2)

ink (4325) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217746)

They may lack "automatic redline change" illumination, but that's not an impossible thing to add if anybody wanted it.

Version control is a lot more than that; you have to manage branches and merging which would require a lot of work to integrate into a visual development tool. As it stands, the LabView user would still need to understand the code underneath in order to meaningfully contribute. Integration is another mess (how do you write test cases in a visual designer?).

Having "grown up" with the Amiga, visual development has attracted me, but it has never escaped the realm of neat toy.

Re:Occam's Razor (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217894)

Hypercard wasn't a visual programming language; it had a standard text one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HyperTalk

That's a stupid argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217144)

AppleTalk and Automator are included with OS X. Hypercard was killed by HTML.

HyperCard lives on in every AppleScript (3, Informative)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217158)

What I'd really like to see is a merging of the capabilities of system level and interface level scripting languages. The interface guys are all in AJAX-y Javascript land, while system-level scripting (at least on a Mac) is through AppleScript -- HyperTalk for the OS -- and well-formed apps. Reintegration would be awesome.

Remember this? http://www.latenightsw.com/freeware/JavaScriptOSA/ [latenightsw.com]

App Store and iPhone locking notwithstanding, I don't think it's a nefarious user-cannot-be-developer intent (though I'm sure many Slashdotters will disagree), I think it's simply where the market went and Apple's over-extension got the better of it.

Why was it killed? (2)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217168)

Probably because spreadsheets and PowerPoint solve most of the same problems, but in a fashion that PHBs and MBAs are more comfortable with.

no conspiracy (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217176)

People tend to see conspiracies whenever something doesn't go the way they'd like. "Why didn't you do what I wanted you to do? It must be that you have a secret plan and you're out to get me!" In reality, I doubt that it was about Jobs wanting to make sure people can't do [whatever] with their computers, but because various people don't want to bother with it. In spite of the article's claim that there were "frequent calls to [revive Hypercard]" and a "more-or-less guaranteed and lively market", there probably wasn't enough actual interest to warrant development.

See here's the thing: there are lots of things aimed at allowing people to script/automate things. There's Applescript and Automator, and some of these sorts of "programs" can be made with Filemaker products. If you want to get deeper, you can get Xcode for free. It's not as though there are no tools available.

I think the real problem is that there's a lot of people who don't want to deal with the complications of making their own applications, even if it's as simple as Hypercard. Then there are people who do want to make their own applications and are willing to learn Xcode. There isn't a lot in between, and for those people, Automator and scripting serves well enough, and Apple probably thinks those are better solutions than Hypercard.

Re:no conspiracy (4, Informative)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217554)

there probably wasn't enough actual interest to warrant development.

Nor was there enough interest to enable any of the similar products [wikipedia.org] from third parties to take off in a big way. AFAIK some of these are still going, but they haven't set the world alight. Actually, the closest thing to Hypercard that is a Big Thing is probably Flash - which has the huge advantage that it runs across multiple platforms.

Hypercard was an incarnation of the Rapid Application Development Myth [wikipedia.org] - very quick to knock up an impressive-looking GUI, but much harder to produce a finished application that works "just so". Like all RAD systems, the danger is that the last 10% of the work doesn't just take the usual 90% of the time, it takes forever because you hit the limits of the system, and you end up having to re-write in a proper programming language.

These things are actually aimed at a fairly narrow niche between users who don't want to develop anything, and programmers who'd rather use full-grown developer tools.

Also, some of Hypercard's role has been taken over by (a) Flash (as noted above) and (b) the Web (either via lovingly hand-crafted HTML or user-friendly HTML creators). On OS X, there's Dashcode, as well as Automator and Apple Script.

(Plus, I hate languages like AppleScript that try to use 'natural language'... natural language wasn't designed for programming, so why try?)

Re:no conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217586)

"People tend to see conspiracies whenever something doesn't go the way they'd like."

Oh absolutely, like the pissing and moaning about "bloated governments" and "stupid bureaucrats" because there's no Earth embassy on Pluto or whatever delusion the Space Nutters are hallucinating about now. They seem to forget that the "bloated governments" and "stupid bureaucrats" are the only entities so far that have managed to put people in low Earth orbit and exceptionally on the Moon.

But because the reality of the Periodic Table of Elements, the forces of nature and the limits of the materials and energy sources is not something they want to hear, it's all about bureaucrats "keeping us tethered to LEO"! Or "get off this rock!"

Sad to see so much undiagnosed mental illness.

Re:no conspiracy (0)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217896)

> People tend to see conspiracies whenever something doesn't go the way they'd like.

That's pretty easy when you're looking at a tyrant. It doesn't take much of a "conspiracy". All it takes is the tyrant declaring that he doesn't like you.

That's the problem with tyrants.

Let keep software cleaner. (-1, Troll)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217178)

Hypercard, Basic, Access....
Giving non-programmers access to a easy to use programming language is a bad idea. The end user feels empowered, and yes can get more done. This is good for your home PC. But Business the small ones and Large Ones get average non-programmer making a program. It gets popular, it doesn't scale, data get corrupt and they loose money and they complain to the maker of such a tool that will allow a business to have hundreds of files corrupted because this simple tool to make quick programs spanned and became used by hundreds of people at once.

Then they bring it to a real programmer and has to redo everything and bitch an moan to him that it is too expensive and why are using such a tool that takes longer to develop....

I am not trying to be snotty, but average Joe user shouldn't be making programs even when they can, unless they have some sort of training or is expected to do it full time.

Re:Let keep software cleaner. (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217660)

So are you saying that Joe User should not program for business, or not at all, even at home? I see the argument for business, and in the beginning you say it's OK for the home. At the end, though, you say Joe User shouldn't be making programs even when they can. Is the "even when they can" directed at business uses, or for even home users?

If you're talking just business, that's fine. If you're talking people at home fooling around, then you are being snotty, since everyone has to start somewhere.

AppleScript? Quartz Composer? (5, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217198)

Ok, so maybe AppleScript and Quartz Composer aren't 100% exactly what Hypercard was, but they're still there, and there's Xcode if you want to do "real" development. Not to mention that you've got all the usual *nix tools available if you're that kind of power user.

To pretend that Apple killed Hypercard because it interfered with the Mac "walled garden" is just a conspiracy theory. If that was the reason it was killed and remained dead then Mac OS X wouldn't ship with python and Bash. Apple wouldn't have been giving Xcode away (and recently selling it as a download for $5). Nor would they have provided Quartz Composer and AppleScript.

But yeah sure, walled garden, ooooh, spooky...

Re:AppleScript? Quartz Composer? (2)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217708)

The idea that Hypercard was killed because of the "walled garden" idea is absurd. Way back then, there was no "walled garden" concept. This was way before Apple got their reputation for wanting to control everything.

Here's an easy answer- Jobs didn't want his people to keep working on something he thought was not useful. But conspiracy theories of "echos of a different world" and "mind amplifiers" sound so much sexier.

Early macs were very locked down (2)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217882)

Clearly you never tried to upgrade the ram in an early model Mac. It was extremely difficult and required special tools. Many configuration aspects were locked down too. You also couldn't define your own paper sizes for the printer drivers and many of the OS settings could not be altered without installing 3rd party tools.

There has always been some form of "walled garden" in apple products.

Re:AppleScript? Quartz Composer? (3, Informative)

voidptr (609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217806)

Note that Apple only sold XCode 4 to Snow Leopard users who weren't otherwise paying members of either the OS X or the iOS developer programs, ostensibly for SOX compliance reasons. Previously, major releases of XCode always coincided with major OS X releases and simply weren't available for earlier releases, and even after they started selling XCode 4, XCode 3.foo was still on the Snow Leopard discs.

XCode 4 is again free in the app store, as long as you've already bought Lion either as an upgrade or via new hardware.

No one wants it? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217216)

Doesn't the relative failure of LiveCode and SuperCard in the market show its a non-starter?

Also I have no interest in developing for a proprietary language. Having one company in control of the lang and its distribution is just obsolete. So bye bye.

Re:No one wants it? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217608)

Doesn't the relative failure of LiveCode and SuperCard in the market show its a non-starter?

Not necessarily.

Also I have no interest in developing for a proprietary language. Having one company in control of the lang and its distribution is just obsolete. So bye bye.

I totally agree with you there, that's the main reason I've never done more than glance at Objective-C.

This is revisionist history at its worst. (5, Insightful)

ultramk (470198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217224)

Apple didn't kill Hypercard, the WWW did.

But by the time they actually stopped selling it, it hadn't been updated in many many years. All the people who were really into Hypercard had long since migrated into two different technologies: Supercard, which is still being made I guess (most versions of Myst were built on it), and this little technology called... oh gosh, what was it now... "HTML" or something like that.

Seriously, just about anything you could possibly want to do in Hypercard could be done just as easily in HTML with the advantage of being accessible to the world at large. There were a few exceptions, but those were taken care of at first by plugins and now by HTML5.

Mind you, I say this as someone who ran the Hypercard SIG at one of northern California's largest MUGs.

Re:This is revisionist history at its worst. (5, Informative)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217614)

Apple didn't kill Hypercard, the WWW did.

But by the time they actually stopped selling it, it hadn't been updated in many many years. All the people who were really into Hypercard had long since migrated into two different technologies: Supercard, which is still being made I guess (most versions of Myst were built on it), and this little technology called... oh gosh, what was it now... "HTML" or something like that.

Largely, this. Also, HyperCard never really made the transition to color and "big" 14 inch displays very effectively. When it was killed in the 90's, it was still very much a product of the 80's. It just didn't do the sorts of things people wanted to be doing

HTML (as it existed at the time) certainly didn't do everything that HyperCard did. ome of what HyperCard did, it frankly didn't do very well. And, HTML did do a lot of things that HyperCard didn't. (Like allow viewing of the content on something other than a Mac.)

If HyperCard were still alive today in some sort of all-singing, all-dancing, 3D enabled full color incarnation, it wouldn't be a pleasant product to use. It wouldn't have the elegant simplicity. It would be an application with clear archaeological "layers" with very different API's for things added on over the course of decades by very different development teams, during alternating periods of growth and stability. Half the features would be deprecated, and they would be the only half that were adequately documented.

The other problem is that HyperCard was always a tool for the sorts of people who would never seek out that sort of tool. If you were a serious developer making a spreadsheet app, you would be using a real language. HyperCard was the "friendly" "empowering" tool for folks who weren't programmers. Those people would never buy a development tool. The actual market for people willing to pay for Hypercard would be miniscule, and mostly consist of people who discovered it back when it was free and still remember it being fun. Since it is the sort of thing that can only be "discovered" but wouldn't be sought out by people who didn't know they wanted it, it would have been a bad business decision to spend money developing it.

I say all this as somebody who loved HyperCard back in the day, but I think it just survived into a world where it had no place. The fact that it would have had some influence on the development of tools like Interface Builder is certainly interesting, but eventually we have to let it go.

Apple didn't kill Hypercard ... (3, Informative)

gnetwerker (526997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217632)

Ward Cunningham's first prototypes of the Wiki concept were built using a hypercard stack. Hypercard didn't adapt to the network (and most specifically the Web), and was replaced, not by something better, but by something different.

HyperCard almost WAS the WWW (2)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217970)

I understand that when Tim Berners-Lee was coming up with a language to put his web pages together he almost decided to use HyperCard (I don't know why he didn't, anyone?).

Now imagine a world where HyperCard (available on Macs only) had been used as the development language for the WWW. Then maybe Apple would've kept selling their (then) overpriced Macs for a few more years and Scully would've held onto his job a few more years (do I have the years right?). Steve would've retired early, being embittered by his inability to retake control of Apple... (but I hope he got to see his doctor earlier!) ... and the world would've been very different.

(got to get back into my parallel universe time travel transport! Now to try killing Hitler!)

Re:This is revisionist history at its worst. (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217978)

As someone whose first programming language was Hypercard, let me interject.

HTML was not an equivalent of Hypercard. Perhaps Flash, or Javascript is, but those are a bit more complicated.

Hypercard had actual programming language concepts like loops, variables, and ifs that HTML did not have. Now, they might have been done sloppier than a 'real' language - it was basically like Basic + Graphics + Hyperlinks - but it's a lot more than HTML.

I think the thing that killed Hypercard-like systems after Jobs killed Hypercard itself was that Hypercard community was heavily Mac-based, and the ideas did not spread to the main PC communities of the time, especially not the nerd set that was the first generation of web page creators. I don't know if the Hypercard replacements even worked on the PC.

Myself, I did not have a Mac at home so after learning Hypercard at school, learned MS Basic.

LiveCode is essentially HyperCard (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217266)

LiveCode imports HyperCard stacks and is pretty much the continuation of HyperCard. It is multi-platform (Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Web) and many apps sold on those platforms today are written in LiveCode. The company that makes LiveCode is www.runrev.com

If it was so loved... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217282)

why hasn't someone made an equivalent product? I took an education class, and the professor (a former EE) was nuts for it. There are plenty of competing word processors, spread sheets, video editors, etc. If the market is too small for a commercial version, why isn't there even an OSS project run by the geeks who loved it in their youth?

Re:If it was so loved... (1)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217784)

Supercard was out at the time, it was a superset (mostly) with color. I worked with both at the time, and it was easy to move a deck to Supercard.

As many other people mentioned, LiveCode is probably the modern equivalent with the most distribution.

Maybe because it sucked (1)

weave (48069) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217284)

I dove heavily into HyperCard and quickly got frustrated by its limitations. Plus it violated the user interface guidelines for the Mac in many ways. A neat concept, but it honestly sucked.

LiveCode | RunRev (2)

ifrag (984323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217294)

Maybe Apple won't bring it back, but others have taken a shot at making similar products. For a while I used a tool called "Runtime Revolution" which as I understand it is very similar to what Hypercard was. Even has the same terminology like "cards" and "stacks". It was also cross platform for Win / Mac / Linux.

It looks like the company has transformed this product into something called LiveCode [runrev.com] now.

The somewhat tricky part about programming with it is the thing is basically always running, no compile step involved, although there were buttons to halt message passing so it could basically be paused for when UI work required to UI to stop doing stuff.

shit soup of HTML/Javascript/CSS (1)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217306)

lol.... that made me laugh

Maybe it looks different (1)

spopepro (1302967) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217380)

I loved hypercard, and am sad that it is gone, especially as an educator. It's sad that most student's interaction with computers these days is web surfing, word and powerpoint. Some people have mentioned the failures of hypercard like software, and I don't think that's fair. When I tried supercard it felt like it was trying to clone hypercard... just as it was years ago, not accounting for advancements in the world.

The thing that feels most like hypercard to me today is game development engines, like Unity3D. Basing navigation around hyperlinking is downplayed (as it is everywhere these days) but the idea that you can have graphic and text elements, in 2D or 3D, and then interactions facilitated through simple scripting (use javascript, C# or Boo) makes it feel like the spiritual successor to hypercard. NASA has done some awesome stuff using Unity. [nasa.gov] I think Unity might be missing out by calling it a game engine--it can do much more.

Re:Maybe it looks different (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217620)

I posted elsewhere in this thread: Scratch [mit.edu] isn't Hypercard, but it is very (young) student friendly.

Hypercard has lots of bastard kids, no one cares (5, Informative)

kachakaach (1336273) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217424)

HyperNext, HyperStudio, LiveCode, and SuperCard are all available and based on the Hypercard model, which is at least mentioned in passing in the article (but not the post, above). When I RTFA, I noted the author states: "All of (the programs based on the Hypercard model) are failures for the same reason: they insist on being more capable, more complexity-laden than HyperCard". Wow, adding more features and making programs more capable makes them a failure? Uh, no. In fact, Hyperstudio is really just an updated clone of Hypercard with lots of color and multimedia features added. The fact is that the Hypercard model had its place as an education tool, but was not that useful for most applications. The article, and the person who posted it here are not really talking about Hypercard, their rant is more a platform to spread conspiracy theories and Apple bashing, which is fine, enjoy yourself, but call it what it is.

WE killed Hyper Card (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217536)

Used it. Loved it. Hit the wall on the limitations and went elsewhere.

When I wanted a plane database I used Filemaker, then C++ with SQL, then Java wth XML.
When I wanted an app to share data between users I used Filemaker then HTML, javascript and PHP with all the trimmings.
When I wanted a business app others could edit I used Excel (because other people 'get' Excel)

I killed Hyper Card because making HC into something more powerful and more flexible would have changed it into something common users couldn't use. I killed it (and so did YOU).

Pass the tinfoil (2)

DalDei (1032670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217590)

A) Steve wanted world dominance and couldn't stand the thought of users doing actual programming ... OR B) Hypercard basically sucked as an application and wasn't going to make any money

Re:Pass the tinfoil (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217984)

Except Hypercard is just the tip of the icerberg. There are any number of script or other interpreted languages that could run on iDevices if only the tyrant would allow it. When I was still using an iPhone, I used one of these to work around some basic functionality holes in SMS.app. My phone was jailbroken of course.

It was a simple fix. It was nothing pretty but it was quick and easy and did the job. Didn't need to touch Xcode or any other dedicated development environment.

Then why did Apple/Claris pursue Filemaker Pro? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217630)

Hypercard was more killed to make way for Filemaker Pro, which, at the time, was wholly owned by Apple.
There was always a limited attraction to the fairly inflexible way that Hypercard worked. But the user friendlyness of it was kept in Filemaker. The biggest reason that MS Access was never released for Mac was simply that Filemaker was too good.

Mah (5, Informative)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217718)

As someone who was directly involved with HC2.0 and to some degree HC3.0, I can say with zero hesitation that HC did not die, it committed suicide.

That suicide was due to all of the classic and well known problems in the industry, including but not limited to, monumental feature creep, empire building, left-hand-right-hand, second-system effect and the general craziness that was endemic to Apple before Jobs returned.

HC3 was supposed to be HC2 further improved with real color support. In its last incarnation before disappearing it was a QuickTime module for embedding interactivity into movies. That is all the explanation anyone needs.

And no mention of Supercard (2)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217724)

I RTFA, I used Hypercard and SuperCard for some quick prototyping for a HCI class. SuperCard was a superset of HyperCard, and I think you could import any Hypercard deck and have it Just Run(TM). It was not controlled by Apple, in fact it's still around. I needed to search for it to see if it still exists. Not saying the audience doesn't exist, but nobody is clamoring for it

The two Steves had radically different ideas for the direction of computing. Woz was a tinkerer, wanted everyone to be able to do anything, even if that meant shorting your board and starting a small fire. Jobs saw a computer as a great tool but as a near infinite state machine, it needed to be simplified and controlled a bit if everyone was to use it. Both models work, for a subset of people, and with some crossover. I'm a geek and like to tinker (Woz model), but sometimes i just want stuff to work (leans towards Jobs model). The removal of a tool that didn't make much money for the company and left some threads showing is consistent with the Jobs model, with no evil overtones.

no profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38217790)

The reason they killed it is because they probably had plans for the app store for many years and in apple math

Xcode + (iOS || Tiger) == App Store Profit

Hey submitter (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217808)

How about a simple one sentence explanation of what HyperCard was that doesn't sound like marketing speak? If you really want people to read what you write might I suggest the use of paragraphs?

I was there (5, Informative)

DennyBoll (413080) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217818)

I introduced Steve to Interface Builder in 1986 (at NeXT). (It was written in ExperLISP for the Mac - completely OO, and deeply integrated with the toolbox.). His first comments were typical Job's "I've seen much better...". He was referring to HyperCard. By the end of the meeting, he was sold, and NeXT built the Object-C version still in use today. We created an (unreleased) product that was an OO/incrementally compiled cross between HyperCard and IB in '87. I also built a much more powerful tool called Action! for the TI micro-explorer in '88.

So Steve liked HyperCard a lot; he just realized that IB was more powerful. It is surprising to me though that he didn't pursue an easier to use variant... We still need one! Squeak is the closest so far.

Yes, Apple *HATES* people programming the Mac (3, Informative)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217822)

That's why XCode is included with Mac OS X allowing the user to code for the Mac, iPhone or iPad or even just futz about with simple C code directly with the Gnu compiler.

Mmmyep.

Oh, wait...

Macromedia Director and Lingo (1)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217844)

Hypercard/HyperTalk lived on in the Lingo scripting language that is still used in Macromedia Director (Adobe/Shockwave). Of course, I'm sure it must have changed a lot since v4 (~1992) when I saw it last...

Open Source to the rescue. Not. (3, Insightful)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38217898)

If Hypercard and the concept behind it is so great, why aren't you superior basement-dwellers writing your own? If you've been "bemoaning" its loss for over a decade, why aren't there a hundred open source versions?

Oh yeah. You want Apple to do it for you, at their expense, so you can take it for free while at the same time claiming you invented it and bashing Apple for doing all your research and hard work for you. You want to keep yourselves on pedestals so that nobody can send an email without consulting a Birkenstock-clad neckbeard. Too bad Apple is making all the toys that previously were your domains to "idiots" and "sheep" and anybody else who doesn't think that you should need to devote your life to computing to be "worthy" of using a computer.

No wonder nobody important pays attention to what the "Slashdot community" wants.

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