March 20th, 2007

HyperLook (and more)

Don Hopkins has done some fascinating stuff. I first came across his page when following some links about pie menus, but he's hardly a one-trick pony. He's been involved with a bunch of other neat stuff over the course of many years.

Lately he's been blogging about user interface ideas for the OLPC project. His latest blog post links to this wonderful email in passing, but the email itself is an excellent read.

It's a detailed review of HyperLook, a visual programming system inspired by HyperCard, using PostScript from top to bottom. He describes the history and features and includes plenty of screenshots.

At the end of his message he includes a review of several different programming systems, from Python to JavaScript to Lua to NeWS.

The NeWS window system was like AJAX, but with:
1) PostScript code instead of JavaScript code
2) PostScript graphics instead of DHTML graphics, and
3) PostScript data instead of XML data.

I like this bit:

Lua has an extremely flexible roll-your-own object system (not one standard oop paradigm, but the basis for making all different kinds, but very simple, not nearly as powerful and general purpose as CLOS, not quite as elegant and minimal (nor as bloated a runtime) as Self).

And this:

The previous versions of Flash were based on an absolutely horrible and inefficient virtual machine, which has finally been entirely rewritten by grown-ups, and includes a JIT, so it has drastically better performance.

Overall, very interesting stuff, and with more great links than a Wikipedia article. Go read it!