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Sean McNamara


Hi Dave - you obviously don't know me, but I'm a new Frontier user from down.under :)

I've dabbled (and stumbled) in AppleScript for the last 2-3 years - just pottering and having fun. I'd heard of Frontier, it's power and steep learning curve. I even downloaded it a few months ago, but didn't get around to trying it out.

Then I was looking at the MacScripting list, and saw announcements of 4.1 betas, and finally, the release version, and I thought, "I'll give it a go".

At the time, I was trying to do a script I'd unsuccessfully done back in '94. This script is totally unproductive, and is the result of a puzzle set by my science teacher from high school - the guy who got me into computers and (basic/BASIC) programming way back when. Take the numbers 1-9, put one of the basic maths expressions (*, /, -, +) between them, and make it equal 10, as per:

1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 / 6 + 7 - 8 - 9 = 10

My teacher told me there were 4 solutions, I found 7 within a couple of weeks, and it sank into the depths of my mind - until I thought I could AppleScript to evaluate all the combinations.

Being a dabbler, my code was far from efficient. I had to keep stopping the script and have it start up from the last combination it evaluated. It was a behemoth. It took ages. I never got it to run through all the values.

Recently, with more time on my hands than I probably should admit, I tried again in AS - another behemoth, and a running time of 100 hours for all 65,536 combinations. I ran it from a RAM disk (run script accessed the boot disk each time) - 20 hours running time, and it found 27 solutions.

_Then_ I thought "Frontier's supposed to be fast, I'll try it". I downloaded it last weekend, and dabbled for a couple of days, within which time I ended up with a small script (37 lines when taking a "base 4" converter I made into account) which evaluated 500 expressions a minute and got through the lot in 2 hours! And it found extra solutions, as well. Boy, was I impressed.

I'm still dabbling (and stumbling), but I _really_ like Frontier. I like the object database. I like the ability to easily create and use new commands, and the ability to run AppleScripts with no modifications. And then I looked at the Web building area - I've now sold my soul.

I'm basically lazy - I hate doing unnecessary stuff (unless it's an intellectual exercise). Typing in modification dates on Web pages is a right royal pain - so I do a macro in Frontier to do that for me. Putting in "previous and next" links is a right royal pain - so on the page which lists the pages with previous and next links, I have a macro which compiles the prev/next pages, as well as the list of those pages. And it works! A lowly scripter like me can actually make it work because the mechanism is already there in Frontier.

I guess, if I sound gushy, it's because I feel it - Frontier is one hell of a product, and the effort UserLand, yourself and the Frontier community have put into it is patently obvious. I just wanted to say "keep up the good work" (and why I thought it was good work). Keep diggin'!

Sean McNamara

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