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Resourceful Apprentice

Celestin Company recently released the second edition of its Apprentice CD-ROM, a compilation of source code, tools, and technical information for Mac programmers. This new version updates materials released on the first edition of the CD-ROM (see TidBITS-228) and adds new information, code, and tools.

The Apprentice CD-ROM consists mainly of free and shareware code and development resources that are available from a variety of sources. And that’s the CD-ROM’s main strength: although most of this material is available elsewhere, the sheer task of locating and assembling it would take forever. Having it all in one place and well-organized (and searchable!) is a big asset to both fledgling and experienced Mac programmers. Apprentice comes with pre-compiled indices for Easy View, FileMaker, and On Location which make searching the CD-ROM’s 600+ megabytes a breeze.

Although there may not be code here for everything one could wish, the breadth and depth of the project is surprising. Apprentice contains code, frameworks, and libraries for a wide variety of tasks: anti-aliased text, Photoshop plug-ins, sprites and GWorlds, custom controls, window and dialog handling… that’s just a start. It also offers source from various versions of applications and games, including Eudora, Disinfectant, Glider, and OutOfPhase. There are more than 15,000 items of examples, source, and associated files (most in C, C++, and Pascal), a number of libraries and routines for MPW, Symantec, and CodeWarrior, plus full-fledged implementations of C, Forth, Perl, Lisp, Prolog and other programming languages. As one measure of the CD’s breadth, I found the original source code for a program called Rae, ported to the Mac back in 1986 by Steve Hawley (a fellow Oberlin graduate who now works for Adobe) – Rae drops and accumulates smiley faces at the bottom of your screen. With about 10 minutes of tweaking, I managed to make it run again. I’m sure Steve would be pleased, or shocked… or both.

Lest you think Apprentice might only be useful for certifiable wireheads, the disk contains a ton of material to help people get started with programming, including resources for HyperCard, debugging tools and demos, application frameworks, beginners materials and working examples, digest archives (including the <comp.sys.mac.programmer> newsgroup and the Mac Scripting list), FAQs and info files on common topics and languages, plus specs on common data formats and protocols. All in all, if you’ve ever had an urge to crack open the Toolbox, the Apprentice CD is a good and inexpensive place to start. If you’ve already taken the plunge, Apprentice can save you hours in download time alone, not to mention the time you’d waste hunting for that certain special code snippet. Apprentice’s indexes contain URLs to original source material wherever possible, so looking for updates or additional materials is easy. If Celestin Company continues to regularly update the disk, Apprentice will remain an excellent resource for some time to come.

Apprentice is available for $35 ($25 for registered owners of the first version of Apprentice). Information and an order form are online at: apprentice/apprentice.html

Celestin Company — 360/385-3767 — 360/385-3586 (fax) —
<[email protected]>

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