Friday, May 14, 2010

Creating With Computers (Part V) - The Tools

As I mentioned in Part II, my early interest in computers and education was launched when I first discovered HyperCard in the mid 1980s. The ease at which you could quickly create a custom application to do what you wanted it to do and to address a specific task was very enticing. The continued development of HyperCard by Apple lead to more and more possibilities including the ability to incorporate multimedia into custom applications. In my opinion, Hypercard was the ideal computer development tool for the classroom teacher and allowed for the development of instructional materials tailored to the needs of individual students. HyperCard eventually was retired by Apple, but other companies picked up where Apple had left off. Development tools such as SuperCard, ToolBook, and Metacard continued to evolve the HyperCard development model. This model of application development based on objects and events began to gain more and more popularity to the extent that one such tool, HyperStudio, became very popular with students and teachers. Though this tool was similar in design, it is targeted more toward students and is not as versatile as the previously mentioned software tools. However, it provides an excellent starting place for students to understand many of the important concepts of application development.

In 2003 Runtime Revolution purchased Metacard and used it to develop Revolution. RunRev, as they are now known, has developed mutliple versions of Revolution and address the needs of the wide range of users. RunRev produces versions of Revolution that run and compile on all three major operating systems, Windows, Linux, and MacOS X. Applications developed in Revolution can also be deployed as browser plug-ins similar to Adobe Flash applications. One attractive feature of Revolution is projects designed and developed in one operating system, such as Mac OSX can be compiled and deployed as standalone applications on Windows and Linux operating system. Future versions of Revolution are in the works that will provide deployment on mobile operating systems such as Google's Android.

Developing in Revolution is done by dragging objects from palettes to your window and then programing those objects using Revolution's Transcript programming language. Transcript is very similar to HyperCard's HyperTalk programming language and uses very English language like commands. The following example should help to better illustrate this description:

In Part VI I will begin to tie the conversation back to my example, the student reading tool, and share the necessary steps of connecting the student tool to a remote database.

No comments: