HyperCard for the Web
I am a long time HyperCard fan. My 1993 dissertation was on the design and evaluation of an environment I built in HyperCard to have students learn physics and programming by building simulations (in HyperTalk). I built a commercial media composition tool MediaText in SuperCard, a HyperCard clone.
If the Apple claims are true, HyperCard still is the most successful end-user programming environment ever. HyperCard was included with every Macintosh that Apple sold from 1987 to 2000. I’ve heard a claim that 1/3 of all Mac users actually tried programming in HyperCard — literally, tens of thousands of Hypertalk experimenters. If that’s true, then more people have programmed in HyperCard (at least a little bit) than probably any other programming language.
I still play with HyperCard-like programs when they come out (like PythonCard and Revolution), but haven’t really used any of them much. They seemed stuck in an old model of what applications are about. When I or my students try to use them for something new, they regularly break on us. They don’t have the flexibility of the original HyperCard.
I’m having fun playing with the new version of Revolution, revMedia from RunRev. The interesting thing about this version is that the editor is now free, and the stacks live inside the Web browser. They’ve built a plug-in for MacOS and Windows (and they promise Linux, too). It works pretty darn smooth — the stack just shows up inside the browser, period.
Technically, there’s nothing new here. The Squeak plugin put EToys in the browser years ago, and Scratch‘s website is enabled by a really nice Java applet to run Scratch projects. What’s fun for me is simply seeing HyperCard live inside the browser. HyperCard has a bunch of really interesting ideas in it that are still not matched by anything else today, so it’s exciting to be able to play with those ideas again in a modern setting.