capsule review

SuperCard 4.0

At a Glance
  • Solutions Etcetera SuperCard 4.0

    Macworld Rating

Since the Mac's introduction in 1984, programs for it have been easy to use but difficult to create. Throughout its 12-year history, Solutions Etcetera's SuperCard has tried to bring the ability to create Mac programs to a broader spectrum of people. Version 4.0 is the most extensive upgrade in SuperCard's history, adding an abundance of new features and a new interface.

The Basics

SuperCard combines two familiar and powerful metaphors for building software: the Mac metaphor of windows, controls, and pull-down menus as a way of navigating through a program; and the HyperCard metaphor of cards and stacks of cards as a way of storing information.

The glue that binds it all together is SuperTalk -- a language based on the HyperCard standard. SuperTalk is designed to be so like English that you can write it using nearly everyday English. For example, the commands go to the previous card and put the number of lines of card field 1 into card field 2 are easy to write and understand.

Better Than Ever

Launching SuperCard for the first time will bring up SuperCard Runtime Editor (RTE). RTE provides a new Object Browser interface (available from RTE's Object menu), along with utility projects (in RTE's Utilities menu) for other editing tasks.

New standout features include a function called shell(), which allows for the execution of Unix shell commands under Mac OS X. And custom properties make the creation and management of radio-button groups, tab controls, sheets, window shapes, and pop-up menus a simple point-and-click operation. SuperCard's single Carbon binary will run on OS 8.6 (using Carbon Lib 1.6 or higher) through OS X, and SuperCard's display code has been completely overhauled, which should result in faster window redraws.

A simple application called HC DropConverter directly converts HyperCard stacks to SuperCard projects, bringing in all backgrounds, cards, card and background objects, and associated scripts.

Under OS X, your projects will be fully Aqua-capable. With 20 new control types and 130 new commands, functions, and properties added to the SuperTalk syntax, SuperCard 4.0 now supports almost the complete Apple control architecture.

Multiple Editions

SuperCard's Developer Edition includes SuperEdit, a separate application used only for building and editing SuperCard Projects.

RTE and SuperEdit's capabilities and functions overlap to a great extent. RTE comes into its own when objects and scripts need fine-tuning and immediate feedback is required. SuperEdit, however, allows you to not only create everything pertinent to a project but also design icons, cursors, and color look-up tables. You can also import sounds, Xcmds, and Xfcns.

After you've built a SuperCard project, you must decide how you're going to distribute it. The free SuperCard Player runs projects, but SuperCard's Standalone Maker allows for the creation of stand-alone applications that don't require the presence of SuperCard to run.

Macworld's Buying Advice

SuperCard 4.0 has arrived just in time if the program is going to regain the popularity it once had. This arena is now getting a little crowded, with RealBasic's RealBasic and Runtime's Revolution making their products available for Mac OS and for Windows. So far, though, SuperCard is the easiest to use, and it delivers extremely professional-looking Mac applications.

At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Rock-solid development environment

    Cons

    • A few bugs in the utility palettes
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