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Re: hyperstudio: Linux and its HyperStudiolessness

On Tue, 10 Aug 1999, Ian Bicking wrote:

> I'm part of a group that's trying to make Linux more suitable for 
> education <http://www.seul.org/edu>.  It's a matter of pulling it up 
> by its bootstraps in a way, because companies won't write or port 
> much educational software without many schools using Linux, but 
> Linux won't be used in many schools without some software.  If 
> you've tried it, you'll know that pulling yourself up by your 
> bootstraps is quite hard, impossible really, which is why it's such 
> an inappropriate metaphor when used optimistically.  But we hope 
> to do better than the metaphor implies.
> Of course, one of the big applications in schools is HyperStudio.  
> Getting a port could prove difficult, all the more so now that 
> Knowledge Adventure owns it, so short of having HyperStudio we'd 
> like to have something that provides the same benefits.

There is already a product that probably does what you need: our
product MetaCard.  It's actually more like HyperCard or SuperCard in
that it uses a superset of the same xTalk scripting language they use
(a language much more powerful than Logo and probably easier to
learn).  It runs on Linux as well as all other popular UNIX systems,
MacOS, and Windows.

You can get more information on MetaCard, including a free download
of the Starter Kit for any platform, from the MetaCard WWW site
http://www.metacard.com/.  Also be sure to check out the MetaTalk
Programmer package, a first programming course for middle and early
high school students.

> What we'd like to know is what are the most important and loved 
> aspects of HyperStudio.  Do you like that there's only the three 
> types of objects, and the simplicity that implies?  Do you like that 
> there's lots of teachers that use HyperStudio that you can trade 
> ideas with?  (hmm... that would be hard to copy)  What are the 
> best parts?
> Right now we're looking at Squeak <http://www.squeak.org> with 
> quite a bit of interest -- it's a multiplatform programming 
> environment which is moving towards making itself simpler and 
> more accessible.  We'd like to help them towards this goal, and 
> your input could help us figure out how to do that.

Squeak would require a lot of work to make it suitable for the K12
students, perhaps too much to make this a practical goal (Smalltalk is
not an ideal language for first-time programmers, for example).  And
you should also consider that unlike Squeak, MetaCard is a
commercial-quality, commercially-supported product, which is ready for
the K12 market now rather than at some theoretical point in the

Although we do have a special pricing policy for K12 schools
(comparable to HyperStudio pricing), the K12 market is really a
peripheral one for us and we welcome collaboration on projects in this
area.  This could include expanding MetaTalk Programmer and altering
it to make it suitable for other grade levels, creating a simplified
development environment for MetaCard (easy to do because the current
development environment was developed completely in MetaCard), or
adding other features important for K12 users.

I look forward to hearing from any parties interested in any of these
things or who may have other proposals.

> Thanks for you time.
> --
> Ian Bicking
> bickiia@earlham.edu -- http://www.cs.earlham.edu/~bickiia

Scott Raney  raney@metacard.com  http://www.metacard.com
MetaCard: You know, there's an easier way to do that...