The Electronic Labyrinth


HyperTalk is the scripting language of HyperCard and its clones. It is similar in syntax to Pascal, and "includes enough object-like data structures and programming aids to make it a quite useful development environment" (Allen 103).

Much of the ease of using HyperTalk comes from its object-oriented nature and tight coupling with the HyperCard interface. Screen objects may be put in position, sized, coloured, and otherwise designed with the mouse. Scripts may then be written to handle any actions the object needs to react to, such as being highlighted or receiving a mouse click. Any actions not specified receive default behaviours. Since HyperCard provides interface elements, default actions, and an event-driven framework, the majority of what would normally have to be coded comes ready-made.

HyperTalk may be extended through eXternal CoMmanDs (XCMDs) written in Pascal or C by third-party developers. To the HyperCard user, they appear as any other command. The add-on XCMD market has flourished, providing a rich resource for HyperCard developers.

One of the benefits of HyperTalk is its similarity to English. This close fit allows for the poetic use of scripts.

According to figures released by Claris (the manufacturers of HyperCard), as of February 1991, 75% of Mac owners had used HyperTalk. This must surely make it one of the most popular scripting languages.

© 1993-2000 Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin, Robin Parmar.
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