TweetFollow Us on Twitter

SoftPolish
Volume Number:8
Issue Number:6
Column Tag:Jörg's Folder

Polish Your Application

SoftPolish™ - a quality checker to help put the shining touch on your application

By Jörg Langowski, MacTutor Regular Contributing Author

No, contrary to what you might think, looking at my family name and my involvement with Forth, I’m not writing about how to translate your favorite C++ program into reversed Polish notation. This time we pronounce ‘polish’ with a short ‘o’ like in ‘soft’. Language Systems, the guys who brought you LS Fortran for MPW, have just recently started to ship SoftPolish, a software quality improvement tool that helps you put the last shining touch on your - almost - ready to go application. I received an evaluation copy and want to tell you my impressions.

SoftPolish is, as I said, a tool. I just read a letter in the July issue complaining about the tools’ reviews which we have regularly (and about the needlessness of Fortran and Forth, for that matter, so I have to answer to this one). What after all do we program the Macintosh for? For our own pleasure, that’s for sure, but many of us make real money developing and selling programs, or writing programs that help them doing some other job, like treating data. Now, you can write programs for fun and be content if that great idea of a new sorting algorithm or a hack around the Launch trap or that fast 3-D plotting routine really works. But no one (or only a few good friends) will listen to your well-deserved enthusiasm or even use your program when a) you can’t explain (Xplain?) to them how to use it and b) they can’t use it without your continuing help because of illogical behavior or -worse - ‘undocumented features’ (no, NO!!! don’t double-click the mouse outside that window, you’ll destroy your hard disk!!!! oh well too late.). This is speaking of my own experience, so let’s hear it for good documentation and well-thought out and bug-free user interfaces. Not that I’m writing any of that stuff for MY programs. I did it once, for something that I distributed to a number of people, and in a very imperfect way. Still it took a lot of time, and I admire those who have the patience to create a perfectly looking, logical, easy to use interface to their original software idea and then give it away or sell it at cost. In my own field, the genetic data editing package DNA Strider comes to mind, or the desk accessory editor McSink (now Vantage, a commercial product).

Anyway, SoftPolish is a program that helps you to create a user interface that doesn’t confuse the user, or pull the rug under his feet because you forget to put some necessary resources into your application and that didn’t show up during testing.

How SoftPolish works

SoftPolish checks three major aspects of a Macintosh application:

• the consistency of the user interface;

• the validity of resources, their types and numbers;

• the spelling of strings anywhere in the program (dialogs and alerts, STR, STR# resources, file and folder names, etc.).

To see what SoftPolish does, let’s go through the example that is given with the disk. There is an application ‘Testapp’ created with AppMaker, which contains several deliberate errors.

When you start SoftPolish, it comes up with a ‘Navigator window’, like a modeless dialog box. Here, you can choose one of six functions (which are also accessible through the menus): Choose Target, Build User Dictionary, Scan Target, Correct Spelling, Clean up, and Help.

You have to choose a target first, so you click the corresponding box, you select the application to ‘polish’ from a standard file dialog, and then you may start by clicking ‘Scan Target’. The User Interface Police then starts to scan all resources of the application. The following checks can be made:

• Are the menu command key equivalents correct, i.e., are any characters used in duplicate, or used in a way not recommended by the Apple Human Interface Guidelines?

• Are the menu titles correctly capitalized? (i.e., a menu or window title starting with a lower case letter is not recommended)?

• Do the dialogs and menus fit on a small screen (PowerBook or Macintosh Classic)?

• Is the space for dialog text items large enough to contain all the text (such problems may occur after an application has been localized for a different language)?

• Do all dialog items fit inside the dialog box, are they non-overlapping, not too small or too big, and is there enough space between them and the dialog border?

• ‘Old style’ quotation marks like the ones I use all the time (',") are flagged because they should be replaced by the “new style” (“,”,‘,’). So are ellipses ( ) that are made out of three periods in a row (. . .).

• Word and sentence spacing are checked; you should not use two spaces between words, or after a period.

• Are any resource numbers used that are reserved by Apple? Are there any resource types which are lower-case only (that’s also reserved)?

• The internal consistency of resources is checked.

• Any resources which should have a fixed size (like an ICON) are flagged if their actual size is different.

• ALRTs, DLOGs and DITLs are cross-checked to make sure the resources referred to in another resource are present.

• All strings in the application (STR#, STR, DITL, file and folder names etc.) are checked for correct spelling. An English dictionary is included; I also received a French dictionary in my evaluation copy, and there are dictionaries available for other languages (Dutch, French, French Canadian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and U.K. English at $49 each). You can build your own user dictionary for technical terms not included in the main dictionary.

While the scan is running, a log is written to a text window which you can review after the scan, and save or print.

SoftPolice - sorry, SoftPolish - will also make some of the necessary changes to your application if you tell it to do so. Misspelled words can be corrected - like in any good spelling checker, alternatives are suggested - and you can define a list of unwanted resources that you want to be removed. For instance, some resources might be left over from testing and are not needed in the final application. The modification and creation dates will also be set to any value you like. Any inconsistencies found in resource numbering or dialog layout will, of course, have to be corrected by the programmer.

Documentation

The 50-page manual is of the usual quality you’d expect from Language Systems when you know their Fortran manual. The various options of the program are described very clearly, and a tutorial is provided that lets you test some of SoftPolish’s features on a test application. All the important information from the manual is also repeated in a Help window that you can call it up.

I’ll show you some examples of the types of errors flagged in the test application:

1. Multiple spaces in About box:

yields the following error message:

  DITL 1 <Item #2> “About” 

The user interface was created with AppMaker, then AppMaker generated the source code.

  •• Multiple spaces between words

The next dialog contains several errors:

DITL 130 <Item #1> “Mistake” 
    cancel
  •• Should the word start with a capital letter?

  DITL 130 <Item #2> “Mistake” 
    This Check box will not fit in this dialog
  •• Space is not wide enough for the text

  DITL 130 <Item #3> “Mistake” 
    This  Item   is  Spaced.   Out
  •• Multiple spaces between words

  DITL 130 <Item #4> “Mistake” 
    This item is Mspelled
  •• Questionable spelling: Mspelled

  DLOG 130 “Mistake” 
  •• DITL 130 item 2 is within 6 pixels of the edge of the window
  •• DITL 130 item 3 is within 6 pixels of the edge of the window
  •• DITL 130 item 4 is within 6 pixels of the edge of the window

The last dialog box will definitely create a problem for a Mac Plus or Classic user and SoftPolish complains at once:

  DLOG 129 “Problems” 
  •• The window is too wide to fit on 9” screens

  DITL 129 <Item #3> “Problems” 

This is a poorly desined dialog box. It definitely will not fit on a small screen!

  •• Questionable spelling: desined

  DITL 129 <Item #9> “Problems” 
    TestApp’s comment
  •• Should this be a real apostrophe (’)?

  DITL 129 “Problems” 
  •• PICT 128 needed by DITL 129 item 4 is missing!

There are many more errors which are flagged in this program by SoftPolish. Actually, it becomes annoying to see all of them and you really feel you have the User Interface Squad on your back. But I think it is of great help to developers in the final steps of creating a new program, it should remove many errors which may otherwise be detected only after months of testing (i.e., alert boxes which are presented only for very rare errors).

Aside from the spelling checker, an absolute necessity looking at some of the existing applications, I especially like the option which cross-checks whether all resources referenced in a dialog are actually present, and the size checks on dialog boxes and dialog items. The only negative thing about SoftPolish may be its rather steep price - $295 suggested - but mail order sources might offer it cheaper. [Check the MacTutor Mail Order Store for a special of $169 until October 31, 1992. - Ed.]. An individual developer will probably think twice before spending 300 bucks for a tool which is used much less often than for instance his C compiler which is in the same price range.

User customization

When I just wanted to send off my column, I received two tech notes from Language Systems (which they actually had announced to me before). They describe how you can modify the resource checking process to adapt it to your own specifications (i.e., play legislator to the User Police).

First, there are two resources that you can modify which specify all the minimum and maximum sizes of buttons, check boxes, how far away from the border a dialog item has to be, the dimensions of small screens, etc., etc. You can change all these numbers, of course.

The most important feature, however, is that you can add your own resource-checking code for resource types that are not checked by SoftPolish by default. Plug-in code modules, state of the art of today’s software technology (by the way, I’m anxious to see the dynamically linked libraries announced by Apple).

An excerpt from the tech note explains best how the user module mechanism works:

“When added to SoftPolish, stand-alone code modules can provide extra functionality for testing custom resources. Each code module must have a resource of type ‘SPCM’. The name of the ‘SPCM’ resource indicates what resource type the code module accepts. For example, an ‘SPCM’ resource named “DITL” is, to SoftPolish, a code module that handles ‘DITL’ resources. If you add a code module for a type SoftPolish already tests, your code module replaces the internal SoftPolish handling of that resource type.

Code modules are called by the SoftPolish application which passes the address of a parameter block. This block contains information the code module must know about the resource. It also contains mechanisms, or “callbacks”, that call service routines within SoftPolish. Language Systems supplies header files that define the parameter block in C, Pascal, and FORTRAN.

The parameter block is divided into three general areas: the header, callback information, and SoftPolish info. The header contains the handle to the resource to be tested and other useful reference information. Callback information consists of the fields a code module uses to request SoftPolish services. In normal use, code modules should change only the fields in this section. The last area, SoftPolish information, consists of the fields SoftPolish uses to pass information to the code module.

The general programming style for code modules is to first check which tests are currently requested and then make the callbacks to perform these tests.”

Pretty clever - a good example of how an extensible application should be written. For that matter, it is regrettable that not all applications have some extension mechanism built in.

Fortran news - Absoft

Unfortunately we have a delay between writing an article and its publication. It is quite short, 6-8 weeks, but sufficient that the activities of dynamic enterprises like the developers of Fortran for the Macintosh can make our reviews outdated when they appear. I just received a copy of an E-mail that Absoft sent to my colleague, Alan Hewat:

Tuesday, July 28, 1992

Dr. Hewat:

1: Unfortunately, I cannot help you (today) with AppleEvents. We don't have any examples ready for release yet. However, the next release of the compiler will include full AppleEvents capability and include much example code. We haven’t set a release date yet.

2: You are correct that Absoft does not accept Internet mail through AppleLink. Cost was not really a factor in the decision; there are easier and more direct ways to reach us. AppleLink users can send mail to “absoft”; Internet users can contact me directly: “ldr@absoft.com”.

We haven’t been using the Internet address for Mac tech support until recently; that’s why it has not been widely publicized. Eventually we will probably replace my individual address with a more generic “tech support” address.

3: Please express my appreciation to your colleague J. Langowski for pointing out some shortcomings in our documentation. A review of LS FORTRAN 3.0b (which he wrote some time ago, but which was only recently published here) incorrectly claimed that Absoft MacFortran II could not pass the Paranoia accuracy test.

But he cannot be held accountable for the error. After reading his remarks, we concluded our manual and example code do not adequately discuss the issue of FPU math versus strict IEEE compliance. We’ve always been able to pass Paranoia, going back to MacFortran/MPW 1.0; as long as you set the rounding precision of the FPU appropriately. But we’re going to start documenting more clearly how to do this and under what conditions it would be necessary.

If you or your colleague have any questions on this or other technical matters, please feel free to contact me.

Lee David Rimar

Absoft Technical Support

ldr@absoft.com

Thank you very much for these remarks. I thought with the last article that I wrote the question of accuracy vs. speed in Absoft Fortran was resolved (i.e., when you give up the speed advantage over LS Fortran, you gain back the accuracy); but I might still be wrong if there are some other non-documented options to set the rounding precision of the FPU. I look forward to seeing some newer examples by Absoft, and especially the new AppleEvents-aware compiler. You’ll hear about it.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Live Home 3D Pro 3.6.2 - $49.99
Live Home 3D Pro is powerful yet intuitive home design software that lets you build the house of your dreams right on your Mac, iPhone or iPad. It has every feature of Live Home 3D, plus some... Read more
RapidWeaver 8.2 - Create template-based...
RapidWeaver is a next-generation Web design application to help you easily create professional-looking Web sites in minutes. No knowledge of complex code is required, RapidWeaver will take care of... Read more
Opera 60.0.3255.109 - High-performance W...
Opera is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 3.0beta2 - Knowledge base...
DEVONthink Pro is your essential assistant for today's world, where almost everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research papers, your life often fills your hard drive in the... Read more
Tunnelblick 3.7.9 - GUI for OpenVPN.
Tunnelblick is a free, open source graphic user interface for OpenVPN on OS X. It provides easy control of OpenVPN client and/or server connections. It comes as a ready-to-use application with all... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 5.1.9 - Easy-to-use b...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more
Dropbox 73.4.118 - Cloud backup and sync...
Dropbox is an application that creates a special Finder folder that automatically syncs online and between your computers. It allows you to both backup files and keeps them up-to-date between systems... Read more
Postbox 6.1.18 - Powerful and flexible e...
Postbox is a new email application that helps you organize your work life and get stuff done. It has all the elegance and simplicity of Apple Mail, but with more power and flexibility to manage even... Read more
Wireshark 3.0.2 - Network protocol analy...
Wireshark is one of the world's foremost network protocol analyzers, and is the standard in many parts of the industry. It is the continuation of a project that started in 1998. Hundreds of... Read more
BetterTouchTool 2.856 - Customize multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more

AFK Arena guide - Everything you need to...
Ok, so if you're like me, you've been playing (and sometimes waiting) your way through AFK Arena, only to learn there's a lot more to it than there appears on the surface. There's guilds, a PvP arena, and all sorts of other systems and game modes... | Read more »
Explore an epic fantasy world in MMORPG...
Webzen have just announced the official launch date for its stunning MMORPG ‘MU Origin 2’ which will arrive for iOS and Android on May 28th. It will be the second spinoff from the classic PC-based MU Online, and it looks to further refine the... | Read more »
Solar Explorer: New Dawn guide - Tips an...
Solar Explorer: New Dawn is a lunar lander game that really ratchets the intensity up to 11. With all of the asteroids flying around as you fly around at seemingly breakneck speeds, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed bythe whole thing. | Read more »
The Dalaran Heist - How Hearthstone...
I am someone who wrote Hearthstone off a while ago. It was hard not to try and stick with it. The game has incredible production values and a core of really great talent working on the game continuously to keep it feeling fresh and fun (full... | Read more »
Steam Link App - Everything You Need to...
Steam Link has finally released for iOS! That’s right, you can play your epic backlog of PC games on the go now. Well… sort of. While the Steam Link app was announced seemingly ages ago, it only got actual approval for release last night. Check out... | Read more »
Pre-register now for endless superhero r...
Talking Tom Hero Dash is set to take the ever-popular Talking Tom and Friends franchise in a brand new direction as it opens pre-registration to players worldwide. Not only does it promise to be a beautifully rendered, fast-paced, action-packed... | Read more »
AFK Arena - Guild Wars guide
Ok, so if you're like me, you've been playing (and sometimes waiting) your way through AFK Arena, only to learn there's a lot more to it than there appears on the surface. There's guilds, a PvP arena, and all sorts of other systems and game modes... | Read more »
Superhero-themed Talking Tom Hero Dash i...
One of the exciting releases that we’re looking forward to is Talking Tom Hero Dash, an upcoming superhero-themed runner created by Outfit7. This new game is an action-packed endless runner that takes you on an epic adventure to assemble the... | Read more »
Kingdom Rush Vengeance Update Guide 2 -...
Kingdom Rush: Vengeance just got updated once again to add more content to the game. This addition, called The Frozen Nightmare, adds three new levels, five new enemies, two new heroes, and some new achievements. | Read more »
Save the world with SCIENCE in the upcom...
Previous versions of space colonization game TerraGenesis encouraged you to explore the galaxy and settle its planets. The eagerly-awaited 5.0 update will try to smash them to bits. Yep, with a new "world killers" setting, you can unleash... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

12″ 1.2GHz MacBooks on sale for $999, $300 of...
Amazon has current-generation 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $300 off Apple’s MSRP. Shipping is free: 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook: $999.99 $300 off MSRP 12″ 1.2GHz Silver MacBook: $999.99 $... Read more
Here’s how to save $200 on Apple’s new 8-Core...
Apple has released details of their Education discount associated with the new 2019 15″ 6-Core and 8-Core MacBook Pros. Take $200 off the price of the new 8-Core model (now $2599) and $150 off the 15... Read more
Price drops! 2018 15″ 2.2GHz 6-Core MacBook P...
Amazon has dropped prices on clearance 2018 15″ 2.2GHz 6-Core Touch Bar MacBook Pros by $300 with models now available for $2099. These are the same models sold by Apple in their retail and online... Read more
Apple drops prices on 2018 13″ 2.3GHz Quad-Co...
Apple has dropped prices on Certified Refurbished 2018 13″ 2.3GHz 4-Core Touch Bar MacBook Pros with prices now starting at $1489. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, shipping is free, and each... Read more
Apple drops prices on 2018 Certified Refurbis...
Apple has dropped prices on clearance 2018 15″ 6-Core Touch Bar MacBook Pro, Certified Refurbished, with models available starting at only $1999. Each model features a new outer case, shipping is... Read more
Price drops! Clearance 2018 13″ Quad Core Mac...
Amazon has dropped prices on 2018 13″ Apple Quad-Core MacBook Pros with models now available for $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free. Select Amazon as the seller, rather than a third-party, to... Read more
How Much Is ‘Solace’ Of Mind Worth When Buyin...
COMMENTARY: 05.22.19- Smartphone cases give us peace of mind by providing ample protection for such a fragile gadget and the sky’s the limit as far as choices go with a plethora of brands, styles,... Read more
Get a 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pro for the lowes...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ 3.1GHz Dual-Core i5 Touch Bar MacBook Pros available starting at $1439, ranging up to $390 off original MSRP. Each MacBook features a new outer case, shipping... Read more
Apple adds new 15″ 8-Core MacBook Pro to line...
Apple has added a new 15″ MacBook Pro to its lineup featuring a 9th generation 2.3GHz 8-Core Intel i9 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory for $2799.... Read more
21″ 2.3GHz iMac available for $999 at B&H...
B&H Photo has the 2018 21″ 2.3GHz Apple iMac on sale for $100 off MSRP. This is the same model offering by Apple in their retail and online stores. Shipping is free: – 21″ 2.3GHz iMac (MMQA2LL/A... Read more

Jobs Board

Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**690427BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Sales **Location Number:** 000860-Charlottesville-Store **Job Description:** **What Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**696430BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 001012-Bismarck-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Read more
Manager - *Apple* Team - SHI International...
…opportunity available in the Hardware & Advanced Solutions Department as the Manager of the Apple Team The Manager must be familiar with all aspects of Apple Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**696375BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Sales **Location Number:** 000203-North Austin-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Read more
Geek Squad *Apple* Master Consultation Agen...
**696286BR** **Job Title:** Geek Squad Apple Master Consultation Agent **Job Category:** Services/Installation/Repair **Location Number:** 000172-Rivergate-Store Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.