DaveNet: Saturday, March 8, 1997; by Dave Winer.
Frontier Demo ScriptOn Wednesday 3/12/97, 1:15-2PM, North Hall Auditorium of the Los Angeles Convention Center, I'll be demoing Frontier web scripting on the keynote stage with Apple CEO Gil Amelio.
I developed some new techniques putting the demo together and wanted to share them.
Important disclaimer: The sample site used in the demo is just a demo. It's presented as having been written by Amelio, but the articles (which are excellent) were actually written by Chris Gulker, a manager in Apple's publishing solutions group, and a longtime friend.
You can download the folder used in the demo from:
Frontier 4.2, Netscape 3.0, BBEdit 4.0.
All apps are running before the demo starts.
Dave: I'm going to demonstrate Userland Frontier, a powerful, full-featured scritpting system for the Macintosh.
One of Frontier's great strengths is that it is the easiest way to automate Web sites. Frontier's automation means 2 people can create a bigger, better Web site than 10 or 20 competitors using conventional methods.
Frontier works both on both MacOS servers and workstations. As a server application. it's used for tasks like creating industrial-strength CGIs and adding database connectivity to MacOS Web servers.
Today, However, I'm going to demonstrate the power of Frontier as a workstation app that can virtually eliminate the drudge work of creating and managing a large Web site.
Two of the biggest challenges for webmasters are turning large volumes of conventional content into HTML pages, and managing the hundreds of ever-changing URLs that live on the thousands of pages that make up a large Web site.
I'm going to show how easily you can manage these tasks with Frontier, and give you a little tour of Frontier's other powerful features along the way.
Rendering a site
[The Finder is frontmost, the AmelioWeb folder is visible.]
I've been working on a website for you Gil. A friend gave me about 20 emails you sent him over the last year or so. I put them in a folder and then wrote a script that turns them into a website.
[Open the AmelioWeb folder. Open Source Files. Double-click on face_time.txt to open in BBEdit.]
See, they're just plain text files.
[Open template.html in BBEdit.]
This is a template file. It's mostly HTML with a few special tags that lets my script know where to add the special elements. I like to use BBEdit to edit my HTML code, but I could use Home Page, PageMill, GoLive or NetObjects Fusion just as easily.
[Double-click on the buildSite script. Takes about 20 secs on a 9500.]
The script is rendering the site. Every page is being passed thru the template. It's building the home page as it goes.
Gil, Frontier is a multi-threaded scripting system that's native, it's fast. If I had to do this by hand, it would take a few hours, and I'd probably make a bunch of mistakes.
As PowerPC chips get faster, our scripts will run faster and faster. We totally dig where Apple is going with Mac hardware.
[Browse the rendered site. The Home Page is displayed. Click on a couple of articles.]
All the pages were rendered thru the template.
[Click on the Media Lab article.]
This is an interesting page! I want to refer to it in one of my DaveNet columns.
[Choose the Add to Glossary command from the Scripts menu in Netscape.]
Frontier comes to the front and shows the glossary table.
The glossary is a central place to store all your links. It's easy!
Just to show you it's not all smoke and mirrors, here's what that script looks like.
[In the Finder, Cmd-2click on the buildSite script. Click on Debug. Click on Follow.]
Frontier has a great outliner-based script editor/debugger.
[Cmd-period to stop the script.]
You can work with websites in the Finder, or you can take advantage of Frontier's object database to manage large dynamic sites with lots of authors.
[Open user.websites.twentyFour. Put the cursor on Dallas Morning News.]
Here's a website I worked on last year -- 24 Hours of Democracy. It linked over 1000 sites together. All done with Macs.
I'm going to add a page to the site.
[Press Cmd-Return. Enter test. Press Enter. Open the window. Title is Test Page. Type This is a test. For the next sixty seconds... Release Rendered Page.]
Now I'm going to point to your Media Lab article.
[Type "Media Lab". Release Rendered Page.]
If you use the glossary to store your links, you can just refer to the names in double-quotes. It makes it easy to point to other sites. That's one of the coolest things about writing for the web.
Building the best-fit system for the way you work. That's what scripting is about.
Now I'm going to add a command to the Finder's menu bar.
[Finder to the front. Option-select any command. Frontier comes to the front. The menu editor window opens. Enter a Hello Gil script. Switch back to the Finder. Choose the new command. Pause.]
This is called menu sharing. All the net apps are compatible, BBEdit, Eudora, Claris Emailer, Netscape, Microsoft Internet Explorer, WebSTAR, you name it. Even the Finder.
Gil: That's great! Can you do anything like this on Windows or Unix?
Dave: Maybe in a few years. Mac developers have been working together for a long time, since System 7 shipped over seven years ago. The scripting culture is mature on the Mac platform.
The Finder's menu bar is like the command line of the Macintosh.
[Bring the Finder to the front, scroll thru the Scripts menu. Select one of the BBEdit files and Choose the Type-Creator command. Change it to a Netscape file.]
This is a very important place for webmasters to customize their system.
Gil, we're doing it again, only this time it's bigger.
When print publishing boomed, the Mac was the main platform. Now many of the same people are using the Mac to build and manage the best websites.
There's an important reason -- on the Mac, the tools are more powerful, deeper and more customizable. Mac developers work together. The result is better solutions for Macintosh users.
No two websites are alike. No two organizations. The ability to design your own web workflow system is essential to having an effective web presence.
Please come by the Apple booth, #2034 , we're working on a dynamic website, and are happy to show people how it works.
Gil, thanks for letting me show you how this stuff works!