Prograph is back! Perhaps you have to be some kind of weird programming nerd to think this is intriguing news, but personally I think anyone interested in programming, from a beginning learner to an old hand, should care. Prograph is a wonderful visual, dynamic, object-oriented programming language; instead of writing lines of textual code, you draw a diagram of how you want the data to flow. Not long after I reviewed it in 1996 ("Get Your Hands on Prograph" in TidBITS-312), Prograph started to wither on the vine, and by the time Mac OS X came in, I had abandoned all hope of ever using it again.
It turns out, however, that what was withering was Pictorius’s product, Prograph CPX. The Prograph language itself is an idea, and ideas are free. Unbeknownst to me, some nutty developers had reverse-engineered the Prograph language and the Prograph CPX environment, with a view to making Prograph available on BeOS. When BeOS died, the effort was ported to Mac OS X and is now available commercially under the name Marten.
I haven’t tried Marten, and I have no idea to what extent or how easily it can be used to generate a native-looking application on Mac OS X, but I am told that the Marten editor is itself written in Marten, which is certainly something. And even if it can’t be used to write the next killer app, it’s so enjoyable and educational to express a task in the Prograph language and environment that those who, like me, have been pining for it will probably be more than happy to pay their $65 and give it a shot.