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The SK8 authoring tool
Last updated at 5:05 pm UTC on 23 October 2020
SK8, a metatool or tool building technology, can best be described as HyperCard on steroids. SK8 [6, 10, 13, 14] was designed to be appealing simultaneously to HyperCard programmers who wanted a more complete and powerful programming environment to grow into, as well as for novice programmers looking for a first object oriented programming environment. SK8 users program in SK8Script, a natural language like programming environment that unlike HyperTalk has a full prototype-instance object model as well as standard programming data structures conveniently accessible. The graphics model allows any object to contain any other object, so containment becomes a powerful way to build up new objects out of many component objects. In addition, SK8 includes an extensive library of predefined objects that were carefully constructed to make building task specific authoring tools straightforward. For example, connector objects and a port wiring mode make it easy to build authoring tools based on a wiring metaphor; a two dimensional picker object makes spreadsheet and grid-based authoring tools straightforward to construct. Finally, the SK8 Project Builder allows sophisticated projects to be built entirely by direct manipulation. SK8 has hundreds of subtle, but important, productivity features built into it. Over one hundred research project tools were built or first prototypes in SK8 [23].

SK8 is a large programming environment, requiring a minimum of 25MB to operate comfortably. SK8's size is not a problem for professional multimedia developers, since they typically use high end machines with a lot of RAM. However, deployment of large projects is a problem. SK8 projects can be delivered in under 16MB on a Macintosh Common Lisp runtime. In addition, several investigations have explored delivering SK8 projects on Kaleida's ScriptX as well as Java runtimes targeting machines with about 8MB of RAM.

SK8 and its complete set of source code (implemented in Macintosh Common Lisp) can be freely downloaded at http://sk8.research.apple.com/ [19]. Ruben Kleiman was the chief architect and implementor of SK8, though many others including Brian Roddy, Hernan Epelman-Wang, Sidney Markowitz, Chris Flick, Ken Dickey, Philip McBride, John Ulrich, Michael Evins, and others too numerous to mention made contributions large and small.

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