Archipelago 2.0

Voice Card  -  Volume 16  -  John Card Number 21  -  Thu, Oct 11, 1990 6:12 AM

For the last month, while all of you have been peering into your mailboxes and wondering where your packets had gotten off to, I was programming my little heart out. There is still much more to be done, but I believe I now have enough to send off. The next few issues should prove exciting (and, I hope, not TOO confusing)!

Unfortunately, I am not yet able to provide you will a dazzling help stack to answer all of your questions. So I'm afraid for the time being this card will have to do. Following is a list of all the new features installed to date with brief explanations:


Volumes no longer sealed

Until now, all previous voice volumes were "sealed." Among other things, this meant that the card-read markers remained off and the text fields were locked. One disadvantage of this system was that it made it difficult to copy and paste text from old volumes. From now on, previous volumes will NOT be sealed or chenged in any way, except that the New Card button will be removed.

This means that as you read old voice cards, the marker in the upper right corner will turn on and a diamond will appear by the card's title in the index. Clicking on the marker reverses this process, as before. A new feature is that clicking the same marker ON THE INDEX CARD resets the entire volume.

Another consequence of this change is that the bar graph on the index card will no longer be replaced by word count display. Instead, a word-o-meter will display the total number of words in the volume. (I have also tossed in some seagulls as a purely decorative effect.)

Improved Text Fields

As you can see, text fields now allow bold, italics, outline, shadow, and underline styles, as well as mixtures thereof. You can also employ different fonts and different sizes. Best of all, there are no more dangling parentheses or quotation marks.

Styles are added to text in the same way they are in any standard Macintosh word processor. The HyperCard menubar now includes Font and Style menus. You can either sweep over a section of text and select a style, or select a style and start typing.

As an added convenience, I have created a system of control codes so that you can imbed styles without touching the mouse and messing with menus. These codes employ the seldom used control key (NOT the command or option keys). Each code is exactly equivalent to selecting a style item from the menu:

Control B: bold
Control I: italics
Control O: outline
Control P: plain (resets style)
Control S: shadow
Control U: underline

The New Card button

There are now a variety of different voice card types (with more to come) and most include a single New Card button that allows you to create any type of card. When you push the button a special dialog box will appear with a list of all currently available card types. To create a card, just select the type and push the Create button, or double click the type. You will then be asked for a title (unless you are making a hello card) and the process will continue as it did before.

There are several other options. If you select a card type and then hit the Text File button instead of Create, the card will be created in the normal way, but as a final step you will be given a chance to select a text file and have the text from that file automatically entered into your new card. This is especially designed for Paul, who loves to dump captured text files at our doorstep.

An alternative method becomes available if (and only if) you have placed some text in the Macintosh clipboard (by sweeping over ANY text in ANY program and copying it (C). If there is text in the clipboard, a Clipboard button will also appear in the New Card dialog box. If you select a card type and push this button, the card will be created with the captured text already in place. This makes it easy to include a phrase or paragraph from an old voice card or from any word processing document. Voice cards also have an "import text" option for appending text to an existing card (see below).

The Export button

Most card types also include a new Export button. The idea here is that from now on each of you can archive special subsets of voice cards whenever you wish. I will simply distribute everything in a single voice card volume, and if you wish to keep a separate stack of book review cards, that is entirely up to you. I will provide some standard start-up collections (such as the revised Book Review stack included in this shipment) and eventually you will be able to create special personalized archive stacks at the push of a button. Any card can then be exported to such a stack at any time.

Pushing the Export button gives you two choices. You can either export just the text of the card into a standard Macintosh text file (which can then be read by your word processor), or you can append the entire card to an archive stack. You will be told if the card has already been exported to a given archive. Some of you may never find it necessary to push this button; others will use it frequently.


Voice Cards

The standard voice card, which will continue to hold the bulk of each new issue's information, has been slightly altered. There are now only nine reply boxes instead of twelve, and the remaining space has been converted into a "control panel" with three special buttons.

The uppermost Menu button is a way of packing many features into a small space. Try moving the cursor on top of the menu button icon and holding down on the mouse button. If you hold down long enough, a pop-up menu should appear. You can select items from this menu just as you would with a standard menubar. Most items can also be invoked with a command key () sequence.

The options are as follows:

  • Help (?) Currently this takes to you to the one card help screen (click anywhere to return). Eventually, this will lead to a separate help stack.
  • Find (F) Invokes the multi-volume search, which works just as it did before.
  • Print Card (P) Sends the title, masthead, and text of the current card to your printer. This function has been improved and should now work on laserwriters as well as imagewriters.
  • Home (H) Jumps to your home stack.
  • Open Stack (O) Presents a dialog box which allows you to jump directly to any other HyperCard stack.
  • Import Text Allows you to select a text file which is then appended to the end of the text in the current card. The limit is 30000 characters (about 5000 words).
  • Quit HyperCard (Q) Quits.
  • Menubar ( space) Alternately shows and hides the main HyperCard menubar.
More features may be added to this pop-up menu in the future. (Any requests?)

The next button on the new "Control Panel" is the Tree Display. As you know, each voice card in Archipelago is part of a larger "conversation tree" that can extend across many volumes. Each new card is potentially the root of new tree. Responses to that card, and responses to the responses, form branches of the tree. Holding down the option key while pressing the down arrow on a reply card will carry you all the way back to the root of the current tree.

The new tree button performs several exciting new functions. First of all, it is labeled with the volume number of the current tree's root so that you can see at a glance just how long the current conversation has been going on. You will notice that the tree display on THIS card is labeled "Vol. 16" (since it is a new "root" card) and the tiny square root part of the tree icon is darkened in.

Reply cards, on the other hand, might have tree displays labeled "Vol. 13" or "Vol. 5" to indicate that the current card is part of a tree that began many volumes ago. Such icons will have one of the circle nodes darkened.

What happens if you PUSH this tree button? You will be given two choices. The first option is to jump directly to the root of the current conversation tree. This is much faster that using the option down arrow approach (but less scenic). The other option involves an entirely new feature called THE ARBORETUM.

From now on, I will, from time to time, release a new kind of voice card called a "Tree Card" (you should see the first one in the next issue). Each tree card will display an abstract tree representing all the cards involved in a noteworthy conversation which flourished in bygone days. Clicking on each node of the tree will bring up a brief description of the corresponding card. You will also be able to jump directly to any card in the tree.

In this way we can get a kind of overview of significant past conversations. My hope is that this will give us an increased appreciation for the personal histories we are forging and documenting in this group. Eventually I would like to assemble a whole forest of these tree cards, collected in a special archive stack called "The Arboretum."

From now on, each new voice card will contain a tree display button that is "pre-linked" to future tree cards in the Arboretum stack. Whenever you click on a tree display button, the button will check the Arboretum to see if the current tree is on file there. If it is, you will be given a chance to jump to that card, or, if not, you can still jump to the Arboretum Index Card. Once the tree card is in place, you will be able to use the tree display buttons to hop back and forth from card to card in a given tree. The Arboretum is currently under construction and should be available to receive it's first card in the next issue!

So much for the tree display button. The third and bottom-most button on the "control panel" is the familiar word-o-meter. The rest of the voice card is as it was before.

Hello Cards

At first glance, the hello cards are unchanged; there is, however, one subtle new feature. If you move your mouse anywhere inside the "Hello" voice balloon to the left of the text field, three hidden buttons will magically appear at the corners of the voice balloon. These are simply the Export (Bow and Arrow), New Card (Trumpet), and popup Menu buttons which work just as they do on other cards. They are normally hidden to avoid undue screen clutter. This is the only modification to the hello cards.

Wizard Cards

From now on my regular programming column, Mr. Wizard, will appear in the form of a special wizard card. The card looks and acts like a simple voice card, with my commentary in the text field and the name of my latest ponarv stack in the title. Each wizard card contains a Push Me button in place of the New Card button. Pushing this button zips you off to the title stack. This month's installment is called "Karpov v. Deep Thought (See Vol 16 Wizard 1).

Next month I hope to release an offical Mr. Wizard archive stack, with new format wizard cards containing all of the columns released to date. As soon as that stack is in place you will be able to export new wizard cards into it by hitting the Export button found on each wizard card. In addition, the WIZARD button in the leftmost gray button bar below the text field will take you straight to the archive stack.

Book Cards

The Book Review Card is the first of several new types of voice card and is designed to replace the old and rather awkward approach of installing review cards from the Archipelago stack. From now on, all book reviews will appear inside voice volumes with the other voice cards. There is no more danger of losing a card; if you want to add a review to your Book Reviews archive stack, you can do so at any time, now or five years from now. To create a new Book Review card just push the New Card button and double click on "Book Review." To export an existing card, just press its Export button.

The Book Review cards are designed to look and work much like standard voice cards. The text field is extensible and defaults to the voice card font, so you can now rate your books using our palm tree notation (e.g. ).

When you create a new book card, Title, Author, Publisher, and Copyright headings are automatically created at the top of the text field. Just double click on each "Doubleclick" word and type in the appropriate information.

The only other significant difference is in the leftmost of the three gray button bars below the text field. In voice cards this bar holds the buttons to go down a conversation tree or across to other "sibling" branches. On book cards, a book icon appears in the center of this bar. Pushing it will take you to the new Book Reviews archive stack. If there is more than one book review in the same voice volume, left and right hand icons will appear on either side of the book icon. These buttons allow you to jump to the other book reviews so that you can read all the reviews at once regardless of their position in the volume.

The New Book Reviews Stack

The new Book Reviews archive stack is designed to replace the old stack; all the old reviews are there, but now each one appears in the new book card format. Although they look the same, the book cards inside the archive stack are slightly different than their voice volume counterparts.

The export buttons inside the archive stack export to text files only (since the cards themselves have already been exported). And in place of the New Card button is a Print button that quickly prints any book review you wish.

At the front of the Book Reviews stack is an index card not unlike the voice volume index. It features two special buttons: Sort and Find. The Find button is quite simple; it just does a standard HyperCard search through the archive. Press return to keep searching for multiple occurances.

The Sort button is somewhat fancier in that it allows you to sort by Member, Volume, or Title. You can also do bi-level sorts by first sorting by a secondary characteristic and then by a primary one. Thus, if you would like to have your reviews sorted by member and within each member by title (in alphabetical order), first sort by title, then sort by member.

A display at the bottom of the index indicates how the stack was most recently sorted. When you add a new review (by pushing the Export button on the book card in the voice volume) the card is simply added to the end of the stack and does not yet appear in the index. Whenever a new card has been added, the display below the index changes to read "Please Resort." Just push the sort button to incorporate the new card(s) into the index.

And that's about all there is (GASP). Whenever I unleash a slew of new features all at once, as I am doing now, my chief fear is that you will be overwhelmed. I am especially worried about poor Tom, our newest member, whose head is probably spinning by now.

But please don't panic. The bottom line is that in spite of all the changes, the system works very much as it did before. All you need to do is read through all the voice cards (as before), push the New Card button whenever you want to make a new card (as before), and then drag the "My Contributions" stack onto one of the transit disks and ship the disks back to command central (as before). When the dust settles, I think you'll find that the new system actually makes your sessions even quicker and easier than before.

Come November I will be hovering over my mailbox waiting for all of your packets to see if this thing actually works. Please try pushing the buttons and testing the new gadgets, and thanks in advance for your patience and your feedback. As always, give me a call if anything goes wrong (or even if it doesn't). And THANK YOU ALL for sticking with me for two long years. Happy Anniversary!