Macintosh Pascal Programming Primer
Inside the Toolbox with Think Pascal

Stewart Marshall, Software Developer

Macintosh Pascal
Programming Primer

Inside the Toolbox with Think Pascal

Author: Dave Mark and Cartwright Reed
Publisher: Addison-Wesley, 1991
ISBN: 0-201-57084-X

For the beginning Mac programmer who is using Pascal (Yes!) instead of C, the most immediate hurdle is the comparative lack of novice-level tutorial books. Most of those which you will turn up are a bit outdated nowadays, and usually only deal with the theory and principles of pure Pascal with little actual nuts and bolts help for knocking out real, resource-based Macintosh applications. If you are trying to learn both Pascal itself and Pascal as it works with a Macintosh, you are bound to experience initial confusion in making sense of where it overlaps, the use of it with an IDE (integrated developer environment), etc.. I had no end of trouble at first myself, trying to distinguish the difference between hard-coding windows and other elements of the graphical Mac interface, and calling resources for this purpose, the way it is actually done in the real world.

Dave Mark and Carwright Reed, both accomplished and well-known Apple developers, jointly produced a book some years ago,
Macintosh Pascal Programming Primer, which effectively fills this void. I still consider myself a newbie programmer and this book is the first one I picked up which jumps right into building actual small standalone applications in such a way as to make clear the difference between classroom Pascal and actual useful programming for Macs. Side by side with good basic instruction in entry level Pascal construction, the authors lead you straight into the making and use of resources, and their integration into stand-alone applications. The book is very well written, the easiest programming book to read and understand that I have ever seen.

Like many newcomers to Pascal on the Mac, I turned to Symantec's Think Pascal 4.0.2, a venerable integrated environment which is still regarded as one of the finest and most stable packages ever produced. But Symantec barely maintains a token support for Think Pascal now, and the manuals accompanying the package really cover only the use of the IDE itself and assume a basic working knowledge of programming, with precious little help to the beginner who is not yet ready for
Inside Macintosh. Mark and Reed are the missing piece which bridges the gap. There is solid sample code in great abundance, and the lack of an accompanying disk is no real hardship, since the typing in of the code is the surest way for the beginner to "pay his dues" and get a feel for real programming. The included sample code is indeed available on disk, on the Apprentice CD's for instance, but I really encourage anyone interested in this to go to the length of entering it by hand. With the book beside your keyboard, you will step through every basic attribute of a Mac application as you enter and run this code. With this firm base, you will then be ready to study and understand Apple's Inside Macintosh series as well as the collections of sample source available from independent Macintosh Pascal shareware programmers such as Peter N. Lewis and Ingemar Ragnemalm.

If you get no other book after the Think Pascal manuals themselves, get this one!

Enjoy, Stewart Marshall

Copyright © 1997 Stewart Marshall.