Somewhere along the line, programming got a bad reputation. If you've never tried it, chances are you think programming is impossibly complex, excruciatingly boring or both. Well, we think one look at the picture of a bouncing turtle on this issue's cover blows those notions out of the water. Programming is not boring, nor is it a black art practiced only by a small corps of experts. It's a creative process, one that can turn an abstract idea into a dancing turtle. If you've never tried your hand at writing a computer program, give it a shot - it's a no less rewarding hobby than carpentry, R/C modeling or needlepoint.
One of the themes that came up again and again during the planning of this programming issue is that the Atari ST's intuitive mouse-and-menu interface was not a happy accident. It was the result of years of research that began at Xerox PARC and was brought to the public by the Apple Macintosh in 1984. However, interface design is still evolving, and the challenge to software developers today is to optimize the sophisticated user's environment. One way to do this is to study the ideas that made the window environment so successful. Our lead feature this issue, Secrets of a Good User Interface, explores this theme. In it, Joseph Ferrari, Tim Oren and Jim Kent explore this topic from three different perspectives, and provide insightful reading for developers and non-developers alike.
The tools of programming are the languages the programmer uses to get a set of instructions into the machine. The wealth of languages for the ST can be overwhelming to the beginner, or even to the intermediate or advanced programmer who is looking for a new development tool. Charles Jackson's article, Tools of the Trade, examines computer languages one by one, giving the benefits and drawbacks of each. This invaluable reference will tell you which languages are best for which programming problems.
Finally, we find ourselves back with our friendly turtle. What began as an exercise in animating Logo-style graphics evolved into a full-fledged programming language that incorporates the leading edge of software development- object-oriented programming. Jim Kent's Pogo is an ideal tool for video games, animation and simulations. But don't take our word for it; run the Pogo demos on this issue's disk, and then say that programming is boring.
We hope you enjoy this issue. In addition to our programming features, we have, of course, START's usual selection of programs on disk, reviews and columns -including a special Cyber Corner tutorial by Dann Parks and Stumbling Blocks, a new game by Mark Annetts.
START Programs Editor