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User's Guide
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Chapter 1: Introduction

Welcome to the Frontier User Guide.

First a bit of history. This manual started out as a set of PageMaker files, written by Dan Shafer in 1991, describing Frontier 1.0.

During the four years that Frontier was a commercial product, 1992 thru 1995, thru two major versions, we produced a series of addendas, but never revised the printed manual. We learned a lot about Frontier, but the manual (always!) kept us from making a major overhaul to the user interface.

In May 1995, Frontier became a free product, distributed thru the Internet. There was no manual. A bunch of hearty souls learned Frontier, the hard way, by trial and error, following the sample scripts, reading the online docs that were available, and by asking questions on the Frontier-talk and Mac Scripting lists.

In early 1996, I found the PageMaker files on a backup disk. I uploaded them. Then Steven Noreyko did something truly heroic. He converted the PageMaker files to HTML. All of a sudden, there were docs! Unfortunately, liberated from the tyranny of the manual, I had changed the product. Oh man.

In May 1996, with the release of Frontier 4.0, we got back in synch with the docs. It was painful, but it was the right thing to do. I hired a contractor to do a light revision of the HTML files.

Frontier 4.1

Late in the release process for Frontier 4.1, in August 1996, I decided to bite the bullet. We knew how to make Frontier a lot easier. Instead of breaking the manual, I decided to to get it in shape to evolve with the product.

So Frontier 4.1 represents a real milestone in the relationship between Frontier and its users. Now it's a lot easier to learn. And, more important, we can make it even easier to learn.


Editorial note

The primary author of this User's Guide is Dan Shafer. He wrote the original manual, under contract with UserLand Software and most of the copy in this website is Dan's. I didn't make an effort to change the voice.

Dan is now the chief sysop at Salon, and is an active Frontier user. He did excellent work in 1991, under a lot of time pressure, and he has our gratitude for that.

But those that know my writing style will recognize it in places. I didn't attempt to hide it! Yeah-yeah.


Dave Winer
Sun, Sep 29, 1996 at 10:57:57AM

Frontier, UserTalk and AppleScript

Frontier is a scripting environment. UserTalk is a scripting language.

The Frontier environment allows you to write scripts in either AppleScript or UserTalk.

The Frontier environment is much richer and higher performance than Apple's runtime environment.

How the User Guide is Organized

Following this introductory chapter, you'll dive right into Frontier in Chapter 2 with an explorer's guide to the inner workings and power of the product.

Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 discuss the UserTalk scripting language.

Chapter 5 opens up the real power of scripting, showing how to customize, automate and integrate scriptable applications.

Chapter 6 and Chapter 7, describes the Object Database and other aspects of the Frontier environment.

Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 focus on controlling the Macintosh Finder and operating system, including Frontier scripts that live on the desktop.

Frontier suites are described in Chapter 10; agents in Chapter 11.

Other Learning Resources

See Working with AppleScript for a quick introduction to Frontier for AppleScript users.

Navigators are a new 4.1 feature that make it easier to find the important places in the object database. They're really important.

The Outliner Crib-Sheet and Database Crib-Sheet summarize a lot of important information about outlines and the object database, two very important parts of the Frontier environment.

The Snippets Site has lots of useful information about Frontier.

The Nerd's Guide introduces Frontier to experienced system-level programmers.

© Copyright 1996-97 UserLand Software. This page was last built on 6/6/97; 5:53:35 PM. It was originally posted on 9/24/96; 9:35:14 AM. Internet service provided by Conxion.