TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Sep 98 Online

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 9
Column Tag: MacTech Online

The Little Framework that Could

by Jeff Clites, online@mactech.com

Getting Started with C++

Code reuse was one of the key motivating forces behind the development of object-oriented programming. It's a simple idea, really - come up with a way to organize code so that conceptually separate pieces are independent and self-contained. Then, since these pieces don't rely on other parts of an application, they can be reused in multiple projects without modification.

The obvious next step in this evolution is the development of application frameworks, and the idea here is simple, too: most Macintosh applications, for instance, have a lot of code in common - they initialize managers, track mouse clicks in menus, and use scroll bars. This is where a framework comes in - it collects commonly-used code and organizes it so that you can develop an application by focusing on the parts which make your application distinctive while ignoring the mundane. This frees you from the burden of writing the same code over and over, and provides you with well-debugged code to do the dirty work. This all sounds great - so you may be asking, "what's the problem?"

MacZoop

Beginning C++ programmers on the Mac face a bit of a Catch-22. On the one hand, they need to be able to test out small stretches of code while they are learning, but there really is a lot of work to be done just to get a small application up and running. So, they could really benefit from a framework - it would relieve them from writing support code which they don't yet feel confident writing, and would allow them to be pretty sure that if something doesn't work then it is a problem with their code and not, say, that they forgot to initialize TextEdit. But, frameworks such as Apple's MacApp and Metrowerks' PowerPlant were not designed with the beginner in mind - they were designed for industrial-strength commercial application development. (For instance, the front end to the Mac version of Netscape Navigator is PowerPlant-based.) Despite excellent documentation, they can be overwhelming, especially for someone who is just learning what inheritance and polymorphism are all about.

This is where MacZoop comes in. It is a small (well, maybe medium-sized) Macintosh application framework generously developed and supported by Graham Cox, and it was specifically designed to be a learning tool for those just starting out with C++. And, in the spirit of enriching the Macintosh community, it's free.

MacZoop!
http://www.maczoop.com
MacApp
http://developer.apple.com/dev/tools/macapp/index.html
Metrowerks (PowerPlant)
http://www.metrowerks.com/

In fact, without any additional code MacZoop builds into a working application. The application doesn't do much, but it has File and Edit menus with the usual menu items, and you can open new (empty) windows which are movable, zoomable, and resizable, and they tile nicely across the screen, just as you would expect from a Mac application. This may not sound like much, but any Mac programmer knows how much effort it takes to set up such things, and how hard it can be for a beginner. This lets them build their code in top of something which already works.

Graham has included a full bag of goodies to help you along. There is an electronic manual, just shy of 200 pages, which uses color more effectively than any other technical documentation I have seen. It provides a compact introduction to the key concept of C++ and of programming the Macintosh in general, and really touches on most subjects that a first-time Mac programmer needs to have under his belt. Also, there is a small demo application showing off many of its main features, and a full-featured paint program which serves as a more extensive example. (Both, of course, come with full source code, and the manual has detailed instructions for compiling the framework using CodeWarrior.)

Harnessing the Power of Resources

MacZoop sports a wealth of very clever features which make it useful beyond its role as a learning tool, and it warrants a look from more experienced programmers as well. For example, if you create a window with one of the traditional floating-window WDEFs, it floats - it stays above all other windows in your application, and hides itself when your application goes into the background - you don't have to worry about the details. It also takes full advantage of ResEdit as an interface editor; for instance, it provides two separate methods (one based on TCL and one on MacApp) for associating commands with menu items, so that after setting up your resources you can forget about your menus and think in terms of commands that your classes understand. ResEdit is also used to create enhanced dialogs, with icon lists or scrolling text boxes installed as easily as any other control.

A few other niceties round out the package, and are worthy of special mention. The framework comes with its own small set of container classes and avoids any use of the STL. This seems to violate the spirit of code reuse, since it duplicates functionality already available as part of the language. But it is actually a clever move - it introduces the concept of containers and templates without requiring a full understanding of the ins and outs of the STL, and it avoids the code bloat often associated with it. Finally, there are many utility classes which make things like creating custom icons or displaying JPEGs a snap.

Extra Toppings

Well, I hope I've given you a sense of what MacZoop has to offer to beginners and to experts alike - there are a multitude of features that I didn't get to mention. In addition to the core distribution, there are a few must-have items contributed by other authors. M. Uli Kusterer has written an extensive set of pane classes specifically for MacZoop, which allow you to organize elements of your visual interface in a natural, hierarchical manner. Uli is also developing Resurrection, a free resource editor for use with MacZoop, written (of course) using MacZoop itself. Finally, Joe Strout has a smaller set of pane classes, which work with MacZoop and with his own framework Moof, which is much smaller than 'Zoop and which would also be well-suited to a beginner.

Uli's MacZoop Classes
http://www.weblayout.com/witness/ZoopClasses.htm
Uli's Resurrection
http://www.weblayout.com/witness/Resurrection.htm
Joe's MacDev Page (Pane Classes, Moof, etc.)
http://www.strout.net/info/coding/macdev/intro.html

The Future

I encourage you to give MacZoop a look, or to point it out to your friends who are just beginning to tinker with programming on the Mac. Professional programmers will at some point want to learn about larger frameworks, but MacZoop will introduce you to concepts that you can take with you when you move on, and it's a rich source of code snippets and example of how to do things the "right" way. This is an especially exciting time to be a Mac developer, with the advent of Mac OS X and ever-faster hardware, and I hope that MacZoop and the work of other generous folk can help open the door to non-programmers wishing to try their hand. Graham intends to make MacZoop fully Mac OS X compliant as soon as the API is finalized (support for Appearance and Navigation Services is in place now), and he has already begun work on a gaming framework built around MacZoop. It should all be a lot of fun.

These and piles of other links are available from the MacTech Online web pages at www.mactech.com/online/.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Skype 8.52.0.138 - Voice-over-internet p...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
Bookends 13.2.6 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
BusyContacts 1.4.0 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
Chromium 77.0.3865.75 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 77.0.3865.75: A list of changes is available... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 7.5.5 - Catalog your di...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast Finder-like intuitive look and feel Super-fast search algorithm Can compress catalog data for... Read more
Alfred 4.0.4 - Quick launcher for apps a...
Alfred is an award-winning productivity application for OS X. Alfred saves you time when you search for files online or on your Mac. Be more productive with hotkeys, keywords, and file actions at... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 10.45 - File, pho...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
iFinance 4.5.11 - Comprehensively manage...
iFinance allows you to keep track of your income and spending -- from your lunchbreak coffee to your new car -- in the most convenient and fastest way. Clearly arranged transaction lists of all your... Read more
OmniGraffle Pro 7.11.3 - Create diagrams...
OmniGraffle Pro helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use... Read more
BBEdit 12.6.7 - Powerful text and HTML e...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Five Nights at Freddy's AR: Special...
Five Nights at Freddy's AR: Special Delivery is a terrifying new nightmare from developer Illumix. Last week, FNAF fans were sent into a frenzy by a short teaser for what we now know to be Special Delivery. Those in the comments were quick to... | Read more »
Rush Rally 3's new live events are...
Last week, Rush Rally 3 got updated with live events, and it’s one of the best things to happen to racing games on mobile. Prior to this update, the game already had multiplayer, but live events are more convenient in the sense that it’s somewhat... | Read more »
Why your free-to-play racer sucks
It’s been this way for a while now, but playing Hot Wheels Infinite Loop really highlights a big issue with free-to-play mobile racing games: They suck. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying going for realism, cart racing, or arcade nonsense, they’re... | Read more »
Steam Link Spotlight - The Banner Saga 3
Steam Link Spotlight is a new feature where we take a look at PC games that play exceptionally well using the Steam Link app. Our last entry talked about Terry Cavanaugh’s incredible Dicey Dungeons. Read about how it’s a great mobile experience... | Read more »
PSA: GRIS has some issues
You may or may not have seen that Devolver Digital just released GRIS on the App Store, but we wanted to do a quick public service announcement to say that you might not want to hop on buying it just yet. The puzzle platformer has come to small... | Read more »
Explore the world around you in new matc...
Got a hankering for a fresh-feeling Match-3 puzzle game that offers a unique twist? You might find exactly what you’re looking for with What a Wonderful World, a new spin on the classic mobile genre which merges entertaining puzzles with global... | Read more »
Combo Quest (Games)
Combo Quest 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Combo Quest is an epic, time tap role-playing adventure. In this unique masterpiece, you are a knight on a heroic quest to retrieve... | Read more »
Hero Emblems (Games)
Hero Emblems 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** 25% OFF for a limited time to celebrate the release ** ** Note for iPhone 6 user: If it doesn't run fullscreen on your device... | Read more »
Puzzle Blitz (Games)
Puzzle Blitz 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Puzzle Blitz is a frantic puzzle solving race against the clock! Solve as many puzzles as you can, before time runs out! You have... | Read more »
Sky Patrol (Games)
Sky Patrol 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: 'Strategic Twist On The Classic Shooter Genre' - Indie Game Mag... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save $150-$250 on 10.2″ WiFi + Cellular iPads...
Verizon is offering $150-$250 discounts on Apple’s new 10.2″ WiFi + Cellular iPad with service. Buy the iPad itself and save $150. Save $250 on the purchase of an iPad along with an iPhone. The fine... Read more
Apple continues to offer 13″ 2.3GHz Dual-Core...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ 2.3GHz Dual-Core non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros available starting at $1019. An standard Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, outer cases are new... Read more
Apple restocks 2018 MacBook Airs, Certified R...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished 2018 13″ MacBook Airs starting at only $849. Each MacBook features a new outer case, comes with a standard Apple one-year warranty, and is shipped free. The... Read more
Sunday Sale! 2019 27″ 5K 6-Core iMacs for $20...
B&H Photo has the new 2019 27″ 5K 6-Core iMacs on stock today and on sale for up to $250 off Apple’s MSRP. Overnight shipping is free to many locations in the US. These are the same iMacs sold by... Read more
Weekend Sale! 2019 13″ MacBook Airs for $200...
Amazon has new 2019 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for $200 off Apple’s MSRP, with prices starting at $899, each including free shipping. Be sure to select Amazon as the seller during checkout, rather than... Read more
2019 15″ MacBook Pros now on sale for $350-$4...
B&H Photo has Apple’s 2019 15″ 6-Core and 8-Core MacBook Pros on sale today for $350-$400 off MSRP, starting at $2049, with free overnight shipping available to many addresses in the US: – 2019... Read more
Buy one Apple Watch Series 5 at Verizon, get...
Buy one Apple Watch Series 5 at Verizon, and get a second Watch for 50% off. Plus save $10 on your first month of service. The fine print: “Buy Apple Watch, get another up to 50% off on us. Plus $10... Read more
Sprint offers 64GB iPhone 11 for free to new...
Sprint will include the 64GB iPhone 11 for free for new customers with an eligible trade-in in of the iPhone 7 or newer through September 19, 2019. The fine print: “iPhone 11 64GB $0/mo. iPhone 11... Read more
Verizon offers new iPhone 11 models for up to...
Verizon is offering Apple’s new iPhone 11 models for $500 off MSRP to new customers with an eligible trade-in (see list below). Discount is applied via monthly bill credits over 24 months. Verizon is... Read more
AT&T offers free $300 reward card + free...
AT&T Wireless will include a second free 64GB iPhone 11 with the purchase of one eligible iPhone at full price. They will also include a free $300 rewards card. The fine print: “Buy an elig.... Read more

Jobs Board

Student Employment (Blue *Apple* Cafe) Spri...
Student Employment (Blue Apple Cafe) Spring 2019 Penn State University Campus/Location: Penn State Brandywine Campus City: Media, PA Date Announced: 12/20/2018 Date Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**732359BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 000171-Winchester Road-Store **Job Description:** Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**732324BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 000013-Fargo-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**732455BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Sales **Location Number:** 000449-Auburn Hills-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Read more
*Apple* Mobility Pro - Best Buy (United Stat...
**732490BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobility Pro **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 000449-Auburn Hills-Store **Job Description:** At Best Buy, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.