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Recent Readings

Book review: Darwinia
Reviewed: Friday, August 11, 2006

Summer reading: Spin
Reviewed: Saturday, August 5, 2006

Reviewed: Tuesday, July 18, 2006

the Omnivoire's Delimma
Reviewed: Wednesday, July 12, 2006

the Golem's Eye
Reviewed: Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Quartz Composer
Saturday, March 4, 2006

I just finished a tech note on Apple's Quartz Composer environment and played around with it for a few minutes. I'm not technically competent (graphically speaking) to fully evaluate it, but from a beginner's perspective, it is a sweet piece of work. The tools is a visual IDE which is still pretty unusual. As the tech note says:

The first thing you'll notice about Quartz Composer is that it isn't like most development tools. Instead of writing pages worth of code to directly manipulate the various graphics APIs on the system, you work visually with processing units called patches. These patches are connected into a composition. As you work with a composition, adding patches and connecting them, you can visually see the results in a viewer window. Each and every change you make is immediately reflected in the viewer—no compilation required. This results in a development experience like no other.

(Actually, it results in a development environment like Lisp but I won't blame Apple for not giving our great language some advertising. )

The environment is in the same drag-and-drop-and-change-parameters-in-dialog-boxes style that Interface Builder uses. Unlike IB, however, QC makes it easier to see your connections and provides layering (sub-compositions). I wish that you had the option to seamlessly switch between the visual representation and a text based on (code, data, code is data, data is code...). Borland's Delphi had something like that eons ago and it was really wonderful to be able to use either mode interchangeably. It seems as if the building blocks of QC would make a nice little Domain Specific Language and that having such a language and being able to easily use it to create new building blocks would be a win-win-win.

If you have a Macintosh, I think you owe it to yourself to spend a few minutes checking this tool out. I think it brings a range of expression to the rest of us similar to that which Desktop Publishing and Spreadsheets brought so many years ago.


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Copyright -- Gary Warren King, 2004 - 2006