What it is: LiveCode is a programming tool that clones and extends HyperCard’s features so you can create Windows, Linux, OS X, Androids, and iOS apps.
When Apple introduced HyperCard back in 1987, it caused a programming revolution. Not only did HyperCard make using a computer fun, but it’s English-like programming language called HyperTalk also made programming fun and easy for beginners and experienced programmers alike.
In those early days, people eagerly shared HyperCard stacks online. Since HyperCard stacks contained all the HyperTalk code that made it work, people could learn from each other how to make more powerful HyperCard stacks.
When Apple foolishly let HyperCard languish, a host of HyperCard clones appeared to take their place. Most have fallen by the wayside but one has managed to thrive and this most popular HyperCard clone is called LiveCode.
Like the original HyperCard, LiveCode is also free. Also like HyperCard, LiveCode’s programming language is also easy to learn just like HyperTalk. The main difference is that LiveCode also runs on Windows, Linux, and OS X. If you buy a commercial license, you can compile programs for Windows, Linux, OS X, Android, and iOS as well so you can sell your creations.
If you’ve always wanted to create your own programs but found traditional programming tools like Xcode or Visual Studio too complicated, then you’ll appreciate the simplicity of LiveCode. The basic idea is that you create a stack that consists of multiple cards where each card acts like a screen that holds items like buttons, text fields, and check boxes. Then you write code to make your cards and user interface items actually work.
By making programming accessible to everyone, LiveCode continues the spirit of HyperCard. Since LiveCode is free, you can try it for yourself and see what you think.
If you’re familiar with traditional programming languages like C++ or BASIC, you’ll likely find LiveCode’s programming language wordy and strange. However if you’ve never programmed at all, you’ll likely find LiveCode’s language much easier to understand and use. What takes most programming languages several lines of code to accomplish, LiveCode can often do in one or two lines of code. That means you’ll spend less time writing code and more time actually getting your program closer to completion.
Just as HyperCard helped bring programming to non-programmers, so can LiveCode bring programming to everyone whether they use Windows, Linux, or OS X. If you’ve missed the fun, freewheeling days of creativity with HyperCard, you can relive that excitement with LiveCode.
LiveCode makes programming fun, easy, and accessible while letting you create programs for multiple operating systems. Since Apple will likely never revive HyperCard, LiveCode is your best bet if you want to see how a program like HyperCard revolutionized the computer programming industry by introducing the idea of designing user interfaces visually and writing simple code to make it work. That’s the basis behind all rapid-application development (RAD) tools today like Visual Basic, C#, and Delphi.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of LiveCode is the way it lets you rapidly test your ideas. With traditional programming tools, you must write code and compile your program before you can see the results. With LiveCode, a simple click lets you change from editing your program to running your program. This rapid ability to run and test your programs without compiling the whole thing saves time and makes programming far more interactive so you can test as you go along. This makes programming more fun while also making programming faster.
LiveCode may not be as powerful as Apple’s Swift programming language, but it has a far gentler learning curve than learning Xcode and Swift, and certainly is much easier than learning any variant of the C programming language such as Objective-C, C++, or C#. If you want a programming tool like HyperCard that makes programming fun and easy, you want to check out LiveCode for yourself. It could turn you into a programmer before you know it.