2006 was a busy year. I completed the re-write of Script Debugger 4 in Cocoa, ported it from CodeWarrior to Xcode, and transitioned to Intel Macs. Along the way, there have been 5 maintenance Script Debugger 4 releases. I had hoped to also release FaceSpan 5 in 2006, but that did not work out.
As we begin another year I think its time to layout my plan for the coming year.
Script Debugger 4.0
In 2007 I’ll continue releasing maintenance updates for Script Debugger 4. I have Script Debugger 4.0.6 waiting in the wings which will ship in the next month or so, and when Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) ships I’m sure I’ll have to tweak the software some more.
As some of you may recall, last year I acquired FaceSpan (an AppleScript-based User Interface builder) from Digital Technologies International. I went on to release FaceSpan 4.3 which addressed the most pressing bugs in the product.
In the time since the release of FaceSpan 4.3 I have been working on FaceSpan 5. There have been some setbacks along the way and its taking more time than I planned. However, FaceSpan 5 is progressing and I think the results are going to be worth all the effort.
FaceSpan 5, Script Debugger 5 and Affrus 2 all share the same script editing code. This means that editor improvements in one product (e.g. Regular Expression search and replace) are now quickly shared with the others. Also, FaceSpan 5 and Script Debugger 5 share the same dictionary viewing and AppleScript debugger code. I believe that this will make all the products progress much more quickly in the future. Since I work largely alone, this kind of code sharing is critical to making it possible to maintain so much software.
Here’s a teaser showing the new FaceSpan 5.0 project window and some of its inspectors:
The script editing areas you see have all of Script Debugger 4’s editing capabilities (snippets, paste tell, etc.), and when you run a project, you have all of Script Debugger’s debugging capabilities integrated directly into the FaceSpan IDE.
Affrus 2.0 is a re-write of Affrus 1.0 (a Perl editor and Debugger) using Apple’s Cocoa Frameworks. This is similar to the work I undertook to re-write Script Debugger as a Cocoa application.
Here’s a little teaser. This screen shot shows just two Affrus 2 features: projects and tabbed editing. Other key features for Affrus 2 are Ruby and Python debugging.
Script Debugger 4.5
Once FaceSpan 5.0 and Affrus 2.0 have shipped (and all the code has been debugged), I will release Script Debugger 4.5. This update for Script Debugger 4.0 owners will deliver on my promise to provide scripting support and split-pane editing.
So thats the plan for 2007. It should be a great year with lots of new toys for everyone to play with.
[…] Late Night Software’s Mark Alldritt has started a blog. In one of the first entries, he describes his 2007 plans for Affrus, FaceSpan, and (my favorite) Script Debugger. […]
FaceSpan 5 will be in my shopping list right now, congratulations Mark you are doing a very nice work for all of us scripters. Happy 2007
python … python … python … need a tester 😉
Hi Mark. The blog is a great idea and thanks for the look-ahead for 2007. I am a recent purchaser of Script Debugger and I have a couple of questions about FaceSpan 5 which looks interesting. Hopefully you (or someone else) will be able to give me some answers.
Is the major advantage of FaceSpan over Apple’s own development tools its simplicity?
With FaceSpan and Script Debugger sharing the same script editing, dictionary and debugging code is there a need for people to buy Script Debugger any more? It almost sounds as if the two products could be merged into one.
In a word, yes. There are several problems with AppleScript Studio, but I’ll focus on two of them:
1 – You need to learn both Xcode and InterfaceBuilder, two tools designed for Objective-C/Cocoa rather than AppleScript developers.
2 – For anything more complicated than a few buttons in a window, you need to become familiar with Cocoa in order to be sucessful with AppleScript Studio.
FaceSpan addresses both of these issues. The FaceSpan IDE is an AppleScript-centric tool that tightly integrates the design and coding of user interfaces.
FaceSpan 5 introduces a new scripting interface (FaceSpan 4 is based on the AppleScript Studio scripting interface) that simplifies programming even foruther and removes all need to understand Cocoa. This also frees me from waiting for Apple to improve and extend AppleScript Studio. I can add widgets and capabilities on my schedule. FaceSpan 5 also has a plug-in interface so that new view types can be added by customers.
For some users, yes, FaceSpan 5 replaces Script Debugger. The decision to buy one over the other will depend on how you intend to deploy your scripting solutions. Script Debugger will continue to be the best tool available for creating stand-alone AppleScript scripts and droplets. However, if you need to create full MacOS X applications in AppleScript, then FaceSpan is all you need.
In developing FaceSpan 5, I wanted to create a complete product, and it became clear that forcing the user to own both FaceSpan & Script Debugger wasn’t going to cut it. By integrating some of Script Debugger’s features directly into FaceSpan, it became possible to create a much more powerful product.
For instance, by integrating Script Debugger’s AppleScript debugger directly into FaceSpan, I can let you alter the code of your project while its running. This removes the edit-compile-debug cycle that exists in AppleScript Studio.
Thank you for the clarification. Although Obective-C/Cocoa are on my list of things to learn it sounds like getting to grips with FaceSpan will be the easier and faster option. I look forward to trying it out and if it is even half as good as Script Debugger is then you will have produced a fantastic development tool!
Having spent way too much time in AS Studio lately, I’m extremely excited about FaceSpan 5. I’m looking for the simplicity of the early versions of FaceSpan, with the powerful debugging of SD, and it seems you are doing just that. Plus–wow–altering the code of a project while it is running, and more!
One FaceSpan question: Do you expect FaceSpan-generated apps to have a significantly larger footprint than AS Studio apps?
One other question regarding your statement “Once FaceSpan 5.0 and Affrus 2.0 have shipped (and all the code has been debugged), I will release Script Debugger 4.5.” That seems to imply that SD4.5 is being developed alongside FaceSpan/Affrus (on the same code base as you mentioned), and thus SD4.5 will be released within a week or two of FaceSpan 5. Is that assumption correct?
Yes, the footprint of FaceSpan apps will be larger than that of AppleScript Studio apps. I’m working hard to keep the footprint as small as possible, but I estimate it will be in the area of 1-2MB.
AppleScript Studio apps rely on something called AppleScriptKit.framework to operate. AppleScriptKit.framework is 2.5MB, but because it ships as part of Mac OS X, you don’t see its size reflected in your AppleScript Studio projects.
Not quite. I meant that Script Debugger 4.5 would be my next project, and that it would utilize code from FaceSpan 5 and Affrus 2. While the split-pane editing, scripts menu, and other items are shared directly with FaceSpan, the new Script Debugger scripting interface still needs to be completed.
I love the toolbar icon for setting Breakpoints!
This looks really great – I’m looking forward to seeing the new version of FaceSpan. From your screenshot it looks like a major leap forward in ease of use and functionality.
Oh where art thou Affrus 2.0?
I keep plugging away with good old Affrus 1, and it keeps getting the job done, but I really would love to see it evolve.
I recently toyed with Eclipse/EPIC — and that was a rather painful experience in comparison.
I appreciate, extremely, the ability to just open a file and edit it, then run it in debug, without having to spend hours tweaking menus and run dialogs and losing it all after restarting.
Ugh, Eclipse/EPIC left a bad taste in my mouth. I wanted it to work so badly (Mac, Linux, Win support is nice) but fighting a tool instead of getting work done is never good for productivity.
As such, I came back to my old beloved Affrus 1
Seriously, I love this tool. For many years, Script Debugger (v2, v3, & v4) and Affrus were my bread and butter.
I’m not doing so much AppleScript professionally now, but Affrus is still a heavy hitter in my arsenal.
I’ll be purchasing my ScriptDebugger 4.5 upgrade now but I’m still hoping to hear something about the future of Affrus.
I miss Affrus. I can only hope it’ll keep working for me.
Affrus 1 managed to make the move to Leopard with me.
Still holding my breath for Affrus 2.x to appear
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