updated 11:00 pm EDT, Mon April 7, 2008
First Look: Revolution 2.9
Programming a computer generally isn’t difficult, but requires mastering a specific language along with a handful of programming tools. Unfortunately, most programming languages and tools are geared for professional programmers who can devote time learning a particular programming language and operating system. For someone who just wants to write a full-featured program without getting bogged down in technical details, there’s Revolution 2.9, a cross-platform programming tool that uses a programming language based on plain English syntax. Revolution makes programming easy for novices while offering advanced features for more experienced programmers.
Perhaps the most important part about programming is designing the user interface. To simplify this process, Revolution provides a toolbox of commonly-used controls, such as buttons, sliders, pop-up menus, and check boxes. By just clicking on the control you want and dragging it in place over a blank window, you can create a working user interface without writing any programming commands at all.
After you design the user interface, you can customize each control, such as giving it a distinct name, defining its exact placement or size, modifying its colors, or defining how it formats text. Every control provides dozens of properties, giving you complete control over the appearance of your program’s user interface.
To make your user interface do something useful, you need to write commands, called scripts, using Revolution’s programming language. Unlike traditional programming languages that consist of arcane symbols and abbreviations (such as x+= 5;), Revolution’s language consists of descriptive English words. A typical Revolution command might look like this:
Revolution’s programming language is based on the AppleScript programming language, which comes with Mac OS X, and the HyperTalk programming language used in the once-popular HyperCard program. Although Revolution’s language may seem wordy compared to the sparse commands of C++, Revolution’s language makes programs easier to read, write, and understand.
More importantly, Revolution’s language allows you to perform functions that might require a dozen or more equivalent commands in any other language. For example, to retrieve a stock quote from Yahoo! might take a page or more of C++ commands. However in Revolution, you can retrieve a stock quote using a single command such as:
The Revolution command is simply “get URL” while the complicated string that follows is required by Yahoo to define the stock data you want to retrieve.
The Revolution language lets you do more work in fewer commands than a traditional programming language
Unless you’re already familiar with AppleScript or HyperTalk, Revolution’s programming language may seem confusing at first. To help you learn its language and its tools, Revolution provides a 300+ page user manual as a PDF file along with plenty of tutorials and sample projects for you to tear apart and examine. For more help, Revolution provides an online dictionary that explains how to use every Revolution command.
Online user guides, sample programs, and a language dictionary is available to help you learn Revolution
Perhaps Revolution’s greatest feature is its cross-platform ability. Revolution runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, which means you can write a program once and compile and run it on multiple operating systems with little or no modification.
Best of all, Revolution compiles your programs into a single file so you can easily copy and share your programs with others without worrying about any additional files needed to make your program work, which is often a problem with other programming languages such as Java or Visual Basic.
If you want to write programs quickly and easily without feeling like you need to study computer science, consider Revolution. Revolution’s language is simple enough for anyone to learn and understand, and its ability to create Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux programs is an added bonus.
Revolution comes in three versions: Media ($49), Studio ($399), and Enterprise ($999). Both the Media and Studio versions only let you compile programs for a single operating system while the Enterprise edition lets you compile programs for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.