October 02, 2003

Some more history

So where were we?

DreamWeaver had been released, and had CSS editing support. But I felt that it made CSS editing far from intuitive (particularly selector editing). Back then I was a Mac only developer, so didn't pay any attention to Windows (if I'd been a Windows developer, and seen that the author of HomeSite had a CSS editor I might have given up right then!)
On the Mac there were a couple of CSS editors, but they too suffered from the fact that you really had to understand CSS in order to use them. So I thought I'd build, as they say, a "better mouse trap".

Back then I used a development tool called Prograph. It had been out for the Mac for some time, and there was a Windows version. There has never been anything quite like it (certainly not one that was used to deliver a wide range of commercial shrink wrap software), a truly visual programming language.

Instead of writing lines like this

If (Window.top=Screen.Top) and (Window.Left=Screen.Left) then

you'd draw nice iconic images with lines connecting the logic into an object flow.

OK, moving right along...

I have a degree in pure mathematics and computer science, programmed in C in UNIX environments and other gnarly stuff back in the day (mid '80s) so you know, I should like the hard stuff. None of this wimpy drawing pictures, that's not coding. But Prograph was so much fun, and made me so productive, that its a shame it never took off. I could go on about why it didn't, but one day, people will program like that I'm sure.

The first version of Style Master took about 6 months to fully develop. It did all of CSS1, and included innovations like

Selector editors that were intuitive, and actually told you in plain English what a selector would do. To give you an idea, SelectOracle does something like this.

Browser warnings - we tested every major browser for every feature of CSS1, and then warned users interactively when a feature was not fully or well supported in a selected browser. The application included full detailed explanations of what was missing or done badly in all those browsers. You could also call up info on any CSS feature with a single mouse click.
This survives in Style Master to this day (only now there are about 12 browser versions we track, whereas originally there were about 4) and you can get all the info online in our CSS compatibility guide.

While we were developing Style Master, that wasn't the only CSS related thing happening at westciv, but I'll fill you in on that soon.

Stay tuned.

October 2, 2003 in history of style master | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack