[futurebasic] Re: more commands, please!

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From: Rick Brown <rbrown@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Dec 1997 23:20:11 -0600
Bowerbird wrote:
> i hope andy invents a whole bunch of new keywords for fb3,
> so i never have to learn another toolbox call again.

I must disagree.  I think FB strikes a nice balance between what it
"does for you automatically" and what it "lets you experiment with." 
You need to understand that the Mac is just too powerful and versatile
for any high level language to give you access to _all_ the Mac's power
strictly in the form of language features.  That's why "Inside Mac"
takes up so many inches of bookshelf space!

> *  how about a single basic command that would return the
> various info-items about a file, like its creator and type?

FB already does this more easily than any language I know.  Also,
consider the fact that the "various info-items" consist of 108 bytes
containing dozens of individual pieces of information.  I can't think of
how FB could re-implement this in a way that's any easier to program (or
to learn!) than the current method.  (On that note, however, I'm working
on a "treatise" which (I hope) completely describes GETCATINFO.  I've
never been completely satisfied with IM's treatment of it.  A complete
description of the calling options and the returned info is _long_.)

> *  and an equally simple command to change those info-items?

Same comments as above.

> *  how about easy "hide menubar" / "show menubar" commands,

That might be a nice feature.  _I_ would like it, but I'd have a hard
time calling it "essential."  It's one of those many, many things that
probably a relatively small number of people would really crave.

> *  and i think "fn teappend" deserves keyword status --
> after all, that's a frequently-asked-question, isn't it?   :+)

Now, there's a good example of what I'm talking about.  I would never
have thought to nominate TEAPPEND, since it can be accomplished by two
simple statements (SETSELECT followed by TEINSERT) already.  It's true
that "one statement is better than two," but where do we draw the line? 
Because of all the wondrous things the Mac can do, we could debate
endlessly about which Toolbox features are the "most useful" and
therefore ought to be incorporated as language features.

Don't get me wrong, though--I certainly am not trying to discourage
anybody from expressing their opinions about what would make FB handier
for _them_ personally (goodness knows I have my _own_ wish list!)  But
in any complex system (like a Macintosh), there's probably always a
trade-off between quick, easy results and versatility.  If FB had a
keyword for every toolbox call, well, it'd be clogged with literally
thousands of keywords.  If it "condensed" those to a set that you could
understand (without delving into IM), it would _necessarily_ come at the
exepense of FB's versatility (i.e. fifty keywords that "cover" the whole
toolbox _can't_ really cover it).

If you want to churn out fancy products with minimum effort (and in a
limited domain), then there are various authoring systems that let you
do that (although I think FB stands pretty well in that regard too). 
But if you want to become a crack programmer, who can produce _any_ kind
of product your imagination can dream up, then there is simply no
shortcut to learning as much as you can about the Toolbox.  It was put
there for us programmers, after all!

- Rick