June 17, 2005

Software Development for dummies

Robert Bengtsson writes "Could programming be made real easy? Nah, how could it? The closest thing you could come is perhaps Visual Basic or Delphi, but you still have to write code. And that takes a lot of time, and always generates a lot of bugs. But what if there was another way…

Not long ago, I came across an emerging Open Source project called Mindscript. The project's objectives are to make it really easy and fast to create simple software, but also to visualise complex algorithms. This innovative technology means software development for anyone. Creating small widget applications (i.e. "scripts" according to Mindscript terminology) can be made in just seconds. The programming is done in a graphical way, somewhat like working in an EDA/ECAD studio.

The project is semi-commercial, hoping to someday finance it's own development. Being such, it's free for all non-commercial usage (including educational usage). Commercial licences are however available for a reasonable cost. This semi-commercial approach does have it advantages; the project has for instance the right user-friendly focus that a lot of Open Source project lacks and it seems to prioritise useful functionality instead of technical mumbo jumbo with no useful appliances.

The Package

The Mindscript Open Source project has now existed for over a year and has already released a number of stable releases. Every release contains a number of modules, and here follows a brief introduction of each:

- "Mindscript Rapid Application Developer (msrad)" which is the IDE where you develop you Mindscript programs.

- "Mindscript Interpreter (msi)" is Mindscript's Runtime environment - an application that is integrated into the Operating System to make execution of Mindscript Programs just as easy as running an ordinary program (e.g. EXE) file.

- "MSF Shortcut Installer Wizard" is a wizard application that helps you install shortcuts to your commonly used Mindscript programs on the Start Menu.

- Mindscript Sample Scripts, a collection of demonstration scripts that shows Mindscript's capabilities while being useful applications.

- Mindscript Documentation, a set of html pages that explains the basics of Mindscript.

No need for external API documentation

Another feature of the Mindscript software development environment is that it's self-documented. Human readable information about the methods is stored inside the libraries, and is easily retrieved when needed.

The help is just a click away. For instance when you are about to create your Object and need information about the Method you can easily access the help by clicking a button. Another example is to just right-click on a pre-created Object with the mouse to get instant access to the help for that particular Method.

True platform independency

It's essential for an Open Source project like this to run on Linux to gain publicity in the community. Since Mindscript is built around the cross-platform wxWidgets library, it can today be compiled on Linux. Full Linux support is scheduled for the end of 2005. However, due to the interpreting nature of the Mindscript system, all of the programs created in Mindscript are truly platform independent. This means that you can create your Mindscript Program on Windows today, and run them on Linux next year.

More information about this project can be found here http://mindscript.sourceforge.net/

Robert Bengtsson, 2005-06-13"

Link: mindscript.sourceforge.net

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