HyperCard lives

Posted by matthew on Aug 28, 2009 in education, technology |

Not everyone will remember HyperCard, but those out there who do certainly remember it fondly. In many ways, HyperCard is the reason I first became interested in educational technology, and it is certainly the reason that I was able to get into programming.  People who know me now as a bit of a technophile are always surprised when I tell them that my first experience with computers at school left me cold.  I took very little notice and couldn’t see any point at all in writing a 20 line basic program that could write my name.

When my mum brought home a MacPlus in 1987 I remember becoming captivated by the paper white screen, the Finder icons and MacPaint, but when HyperCard came along later that year I was quickly obsessed by the idea that I could create my own applications.  I am pretty sure I was more interested in messing around with HyperCard than my final year of school, but my gap year turned out to be an opportunity to start working on it more seriously.  To cut a long story short, basically my entire career can be traced back to the opportunities provided by HyperCard to quickly and easily test out new ideas and then make something useful from them.

So when HyperCard was left to wither in the 90s and finally dropped by Apple in 2004 I was naturally very disappointed. HyperCard is not supported by MacOSX. I’ve used most of the commercial products that have tried to keep the dream alive, including in particular SuperCard and Revolution, but there has always been a reason not to invest the time and effort required to use them.

However, the time may well have arrived for the return of HyperCard in the form of a new web-only development tool by the people who make Revolution.  It’s called revMedia, and the best part is that it’s absolutely free. As their press release says:

“revMedia is a fully featured authoring tool that includes an integrated development environment (IDE) for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.”

I downloaded the alpha without high expectations. I thought this was going to be a very cut down tool with the ability to move a few things around on a screen and basically create Flash style animations.  I’m not sure I would be willing to install a new plugin (and require others to do the same) if that’s all I was getting.  However, this is the real deal. It feels very much like a version of HyperCard that has been updated with all the things you’d like to be able to do now.  Reading stuff in from the web, vector graphics, OS widgets for Mac and Windows, quicktime, and other media formats, etc.  The best part is that language and is just as useful, easy to read and dependable as the old HyperTalk.  I started writing a curriculum mapping tool immediately, and didn’t stop until I had to go to bed at 3am.  I really hope this product is as exciting for new users as it is for old school HyperCard fans like me.

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