It's an interesting component of modern culture that views anything that didn't hatch yesterday as completely obsolete, foreign, and useless for study. This regrettably leads us to recreate the wheel over and over again, and sometimes what results is simply NOT superior to that which preceded it in ways we should have seen coming but didn't because we decided it was uncool to look back in time.
Thus is is with the the Hyper-word that must not be uttered. If all you can look back and see are 1-bit icons and the floppy-swap and are willing to dismiss it at that, then you never really did ever "get it." And, btw, those 1-bit icons were and still are vastly superior to the load of 256-color icon crap that shipped with MetaCard and is shipping still with Rev. You think the Stack - Card metaphor is an embarrassment? Have any of you even LOOKED AT those MC icons?!? They look like they were drawn by 5-year-olds on a few too many acid drops. And, btw, we're talking 5-year-olds with ZERO artistic talent. On acid.
But I digress. When reminded that, at its height, the Hyper-thing was quite possibly THE most popular development environment (Can Rev say that now?) and attracted probably the greatest numbers of non-/novice programmers than any development environment before or since (does anyone even come close btw?), people's responses are: 'but where are they now?', or, 'oh, but those were the days of the floppy-swap,' or the subtly-deceptive argument-changing dismissal that such is the realm of the geriatric set that's clearly not with the program (pardon the pun).
The point that lots of people are blissful to ignore is that Hypercard (there, I've said it!) got lots of things right that, 20 years later, nearly everybody else, including Rev, insists on getting wrong by design (except for a certain competitor whose product sells extremely well). Hypercard succeeded wildly in getting people -- normal humans even! -- to use their *programming* product in a very short period of time. While other people wonder, 'where are those people now?', I wonder, 'how the hell did they do that?!'
And that's why HC is not irrelevant: how the hell did they do that, indeed! We like to think that todays user is so much more computer sophisticated than was the typical user 20+ years ago, a bit of back-patting that study after study indicates is simply dead wrong. We may have more computers in more homes and more schools but, other than surfing the web and sitting on Facebook all day, today's computer owner doesn't use his/her computer for anything markedly more complex or different than did the typical user of 20+ years ago. So, the idea that we need to explain things less because "they" know more? Fail.
20+ years ago the HC team understood that they had to make programming look fun and attractive, with a gentle learning curve and lots of ready-made things to copy <--> paste into new stacks, replete with clipart so that the user didn't get distracted when going off and ending up chasing the pretty butterfly while looking for artwork.
Today many consider such things to be coddling, and new Rev users with questions are tersely told to go read the documentation. I'll say it again: without a printed set of language documentation (WITH AN INDEX), online docs are of EXTREMELY LIMITED VALUE because you can't look up what you don't know to look up. The language model is sufficiently different from other programming languages that even programmers coming from other languages find using the documentation difficult, and people who lack a programming background altogether are likely to find the docs entirely unusable. Which means they drift away, because there's no substantial explanation of how to do things that anchors them. Buh-bye, new user. By design. Because we think they need to grow more hair on their chests and suck it up and become "real" programmers.
Trevor's lessons stuff is a HUGE step in the right direction, but consider this: you have to (a) know they exist to (b) go find them (no small feat, given how wildly Rev's website changes with each new rebranding) and then (c) search them, at which point you've likely lost considerably more than 50% of those new users. Considerably more. Do I need say it again? CONSIDERABLY MORE, like, nearly all of them. The HC dev team knew to have stuff up-front and visible, always and obviously accessible. They even recognized this importance after the development of that new-fangled internet thingy that people keep telling me about (I think I need to go swig a bottle of Geritol before I can grok that whole thing).
So, it would seem that there's a few things we can learn from 20+ years ago -- Don't intimidate people and make them feel stupid; DO give them a small subset of all the things they need to get started without leaving the IDE; DO provide a printed set of language and learning materials; make all this stuff obvious and visible; and speak to them in their, not your, language.
Think I'm going overboard a bit with the clipart & stuff? How many teachers do you think choose Hyperstudio (http://www.mackiev.com/hyperstudio/) at US$90 over Rev Media, which is FREE? Seems insane, doesn't it?! Visit their website and you'll see why they pick Hyperstudio. In droves. Look at the screenshot: Hyperstudio's not too embarrassed by the blast from the past of using a hand versus an arrow to indicate one particular state or modality over the other, because Hyperstudio knows that you don't use two very similar-looking icons to indicate two very different states. And Hyperstudio knows it because HC knew it. And because Hyperstudio has decided not to be embarrassed by yesterday's truth, they sell way more licenses to normal humans than does Rev, even though I think educators would be better off using Rev.
Hyperstudio also boasts podcasting support, importing from iTunes, Keynote, and YouTube, easy card navigation in its production environment, and text niceties such as kerning (how long have people been drooling for that in Rev?!). Like Rev, it has a plugin allowing Hyperstudio projects to be run in Safari. But, more significantly, it includes 1,300 clipart images, 500 background images, 200 animations, 280 sounds, and 30 movies, including QTVR; it imports PDF, PNG, JPG, TIFF, GIF, BMP, PICT & PSD for images, and MP3, AAC, WAV (I'll bet it's wayyyy less wonky than Rev is with WAV files), AIFF, M4A, M4B, M4P, SND, CDDA & AU for audio, and MOV, AVI, MPEG and QTVR for movie/video. Now I'm not claiming that Rev needs to match them, number for number, on included media, but it really does need to not be a string of 0s in all those categories if Rev wishes to compete in the educational market. Hyperstudio was smart: It looked at what worked for Hypercard and then did that in spades. It wasn't too cool to look back in time. And it shows because it sells.
And, another reason why educators take to Hyperstudio in droves? It has something else that Hypercard had and Rev sadly does not: a passionate former and current userbase with an emotional connection to the product and the willingness to be unpaid evangelists for the company and the product. And this is a company/product that really doesn't badly need such a thing, having few to no real competitors, unlike Rev, which is up against a bazillion other programming languages, most of which have been around longer and have significantly more adherents. And, as its wiki entry notes, Hyperstudio and its users aren't too proud to acknowledge Hyperstudio as a Hypercard clone. Indeed, on the webpages of Hyperstudio fans you will find frequent mention of Hypercard, and not in a negative manner either. Oh, and did I mention that Hyperstudio is wildly popular? Hmmm.... wonder why.
Higher education, teacher ed programs, and K-12 in general *lurves* Hyperstudio:
--this site has an example of menus that make sense to educators.
--this site explains in copious detail why the edu community likes Hyperstudio.
Check out the testimonials and endorsements, and, ask yourself what does Hyperstudio do for $90 that Rev Media, for free, couldn't do better, and then consider why it is Rev currently cannot compete in that market, despite everything we've been able to observe about such software and the success of similar products over the last 20 years.
But, of course, few here care about the education market, so let me appeal to your base, my-bottom-line instincts: how many of your bugs might get fixed with the additional income brought in by hundreds of thousands of teachers buying a slightly modified Studio, based upon what went right with Hypercard?
Is it really worth it to diss Hypercard and its model? I think not.