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Sat 19 Feb 2005
AppleScript Studio Course (17th & 18th Feb 2005)
Category : Technology/AS1718Feb2005.txt
We did the AppleScript Studio Course on 17th and 18th February at Apple Singapore. It gets easier to teach, each time, as I figure out how to streamline the material to get the ideas flowing into the people's heads at an easy pace.
The first problem doing these courses is that the attendees come with varying levels of familiarity with the course topic. So the first part of the day, it takes a lot of energy to reach into their minds to try to pull everybody along at the same pace.
Then there's the problem of figuring out what we really want to achieve with doing the course. Of course we want to teach people how to make use of AppleScript Studio. But how? It's only after doing it two or three times that the way ahead starts to clear up.
This is what I mean. We could teach Xcode, and then the AppleScript language, and then the way to control Cocoa objects using AppleScript, and we could do all these pedantically, step by step, one after another, systematically, exhaustively. But you could do all these on your own without attending a course. In a two-day course, this method takes too long. And it's boring.
What I think we could do is to teach people how to learn how to learn - quickly - to introduce a system so that they can figure out the key concepts, which forms a framework to which they can add new knowledge, on-demand, at their own time, which supports an engine that can get productive work done, almost as soon as they're out of the course.
In the AppleScript Studio case, I try to take advantage of AppleScript's English-like syntax to help people read AppleScript code, to catch the flavour of the language so that they can understand what's going on, as soon as they can, so that they can start doing fun things with the language, and not get too hung up with the details, because you can always search the reference guides later.
AppleScript Studio is fun. And it's not a toy. It is a seriously malleable material to build a lot of useful tools with. What I am finding is that it's possible to use this platform introduce ideas about good design, to show how you can use the object-oriented nature of the language to bring a structure to your program, to program defensively, and to design sub-routines and functions with real conceptual power, rather than just be formed simply because the program got too long.
AppleScript Studio and Objective-C with Cocoa - these development environments make building GUI-based applications easier than ever before, which should make them, at least, easier also to teach. What we could do is to use the space that's opening up to help people think more creatively about design, so that they do things better rather just doing things with the tool.
A lot of people have come to the courses to evaluate what they could do with the tools on OS X. All we could do is to continue to try to teach it well, so that they may be inspired to do things they couldn't have done before. It'll be interesting, down the road, to see what turns up.