Multimedia (was re: HyperSqueak)

Bijan Parsia bparsia at
Wed Mar 15 12:19:47 UTC 2000

On Wed, 15 Mar 2000, Russell Allen wrote:

> >At 2:45 PM +1100 3/15/2000, Russell Allen wrote:
> >Such features it has lacked that I wanted, I have always been able to
> >build for it.  That's part of what makes it such a fun
> >object-de-hack.  If you find something missing, you might find it
> >equally rewarding to provide yourself.
> Umm, that's not really the point I was trying to make.


> In the end, the opensource mantra "code it yourself" doesn't wash for
> basics.

And everybody disagree's on what the basics are, and how they should be
provided. At least, in my experience.

>  Those *must* be available without coding, otherwise only
> programmers will be using Squeak.

What's wrong with that? :) Especially if, in the process of exploring
implementing the basics, a non-programmer converts into a programmer?

These "goals" are not simple. If I were a Hypercard fanatic, I'd want, er,
*Hypercard* and nothing else. (Otherwise, why not go with one of the
supported Hypercard derivatives, like SuperCard?) I thought Hypercard made
some things kinda fun and absolutely sucked for other things, and it
*really* didn't work the way I do. So?

It'd certainly be possible, indeed, rather straightforward, to build a
Hypercard clone on top of Squeak and have it come out pretty darn close to
a hyped up version of the original. But who wants to bother? If the
Hypercard Horde wants a crossplatform, multimedia studly, better "lower
level" version of Hypercard, they should pony up the cash, time,
expertise, etc. There are folks on this list who could do it for the right

Doing more than *incrementally* "better" than Hypercard (while still
appealing to Hypercard fanatics) is probably an intractable research
problem. And rather artifical. And fairly uninteresting.

> I want to be able to use Squeak for those kinds of multimedia programs for
> which I would otherwise use something such as iShell (which is also
> freeish, though not open).  iShell, for example, has a drag-and-drop
> interface and, through Quicktime, can display a wide variety of file types
> and fades/transitions quickly and simply.  Setting up interactions between
> buttons and movies and audio etc is very easy and completely without coding.

Great. But either you want something specific, to wit, Squeak iShell, or
you want something vague and general, "iShell-like but better". If the
former, some iShell addicit is best to do the work. For the latter, things
get tricky. It's not at all obvious, and querying mailing lists is a
*terrible* way to garner useful data (I refer to Lawson's, not
yours). Personal experience is often only *marginally* useful.

> There are multimedia people on this list - I'm trying to get an idea of
> what they think is necessary to move Squeak to the level where it can be
> used by someone who uses an authoring tool for multimedia, where Squeak
> doesn't require them to code functionality themselves, only tie the
> existing functionality to their own content.

For some things, it's dead simple. For other things, it's quite
tricky. About par for the course, eh ;)

>From some of the descriptiong of Disney Demos, I gather that some cool
direct manipulation stuff is in the works. The GATech Squeakers are also
pushing out neat things on the multimedia front.

A metacomment on all this: I am *so* glad that I'm my target audience and
I know it. I do recommend Squeak to various people and some have embraced
it and some aren't ready for it (or it's not ready for them). This doesn't
bother me. 

I'll also add that starting something and asking for help, even if it's
wildly overambitious ;), is often a good way to get other people
involved. I *personally* like helping specific people with something
they're trying to *do*, and not, in general, "making Squeak fit for an
interest group". But, then again, I'm not fond of sales :)

I've noticed this to be the case with lots of folks on the list.

Plus, as long as stuff stays *interesting*, what's the rush? If some other
system does something really cool, great! If it's *really* cool, then
there was some clever (and concrete) idea I may not have thought of. I'll
be glad, in that case, not to have prematurely optimized for my crummy one

(Patents, of course, as they're going, stifle this, which is ample reason
to break the patent system.)

I'm really looking forward to SqueakStarLogo. I had just written a
review/notice of the new Java StarLogo ( and
had been again wishing I had the time to pump out a Squeak
version. Lo! The Squeak Gods are kind! Turns out that there *is* a Squeak
StarLogo, recently demoed at Squeak end!

(Any chance of getting ahold of this? I'd love to do a follow up.)


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