Hypercard! The Software Tool of Tomorrow!

Encouraging people to write & submit new Hypercard stacks. Which, as a retro-tech challenge, I think is great. But. How about first having a decent modern Hypercard environment?

Why not? There's the classic John Gruber hit piece Why Hypercard Failed:

"Apple PR says it's a dead product so it doesn't matter if you like it! I like the Yankees who are also a bullshit PR project!"
—semantic analysis of all Gruber's posts produced this summary.

Stanislav (not a pleasant or generally useful person to me, but perhaps correct for once), had a different read of Why Hypercard Had to Die:

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.

Apple did have a near-Hypercard tool, Dashcode, which was slightly more technical but not much; it auto-generated placeholder functions and you'd fill them in with JS and use local storage as your database. They never fully supported it, killed it, and pushed Xcode instead, which is like giving kids a backfiring nailgun with no safety instead of a plastic hammer. Now they're ludicrously trying to teach kids BDSM Swift with the lldb debugger repackaged as "Playgrounds". I feel so sad for a kid whose first experience of programming is 100s of "unable to satisfy template constraint" errors; that's some hard unyielding playground equipment there.

There's a few modern variants, but nothing I know of that works:

  • Uli Kusterer's Stacksmith is unfinished, has no binary download or web site, and the build instructions are very pro-dev. Last time I tried it I couldn't get it to build, so…
  • SuperCard is $180/$280. Ha ha… uh, no.
  • HyperNext Studio is based on RealBASIC, and is free, but rarely updated. Does not run classic Hypercard stacks.

So everyone just gives up and uses emulation, because making a new Hypercard is impossible. If you're going to do that, do it the easy way:

Springboard Cleaning

So micro.blog has a new icon (apologies for the Twitter link), which looks good if rather pumpkin-spicey on the Mac desktop. But then on iOS they put it on a sterile IVE-1138 white background which is eye-searing gold/white or maybe blue/black. I can't tolerate more of that, and Manton won't listen to reason.

Well, I was living in filth anyway with a Springboard full of random crap, so I cleaned up with Launch Center Pro and a few folders for tools I use all the time, everything else is still in folders on pages 2-3. The custom icons are still a work in progress, I'm just using the cheesy prefab icons in LCP, but at least they're consistent.

So now I have this:


Launch Center Pro

Music app is still ugly, but I need it. The "Safari+" icon is just an about:blank page saved to Springboard, so when I tap that I get a new browser page; I don't think it can be recolored easily. Again, ugly but it's the only one of its kind. Mail's upside-down gradient is embarrassing, how does Apple not see that and FIX IT?! Light should be coming from the top left in all UIs, that was decided on NeXTstep 30 years ago!

If we could have transparent icons, or place icons freely, I could move the chat apps to the bottom, but currently you need a single-color opaque background for icons. Why does Tim Cook's Apple so hate fun and beauty, and let "Sir Jony Ive" (I didn't vote for his tragically un-beheaded "Queen", and a man who would bow to a monarch is no man) inflict his anti-aesthetic on everyone? Why do people follow along with this?

… I'd say "I'm moving to Android!" but that's an even worse shit-show.