FaceSpan 4.0 Public Beta

Although most of its detractors were quick to hail the end of the venerable FaceSpan’s reign over the AppleScript interface kingdom a couple of years ago, many of its greatest evangelists had even become doubtful of its future under OS X. In fact, I’ll be the first to admit that when our favorite DTI Goddess, Shirley Hopkins, appeared out of nowhere and pre-announced a very much complete beta to come September second, I was dumbstruck. The last flame of FaceSpan’s memory was just beginning to flicker out and -whammo!- FaceSpan 4 appears back with a vengeance.

I don’t think anyone will ever really know what happened behind the scenes at DTI, but you can bet that Shirley had a big hand in it and that every one of us will want to give her a big hug for that.

Now, on with the details of what will likely become the development tool of choice for many of our readers and the savior of many still stuck in OS 9 land. Let’s start with the kudos.

After all of this, however, it is very difficult not to acknowledge the elephant in the room: why would anyone pay for FaceSpan 4 when Apple is giving away AppleScript Studio for free? My answer to that is simple: simplicity. I think most would agree that it is far and away much simpler to create applications with FaceSpan 4.

Our own Greg Spence reports:

Although FaceSpan 4.0 is similar to Project Builder and AppleScript Studio in some respects, FaceSpan 4.0 seems to be a lot more intuitive. The options for “Build and Run” are much faster than AppleScript Studio’s implementation, and the ability to “Test Interface” is nice and quick, and it allows me to see my interface without having to “build” the application. In other words, I can inspect my applications interface and make adjustments as needed prior to “building” the application.

As a novice AppleScripter I never purchased any of the earlier versions of FaceSpan, but for those who have it’s going to be smooth sailing. One thing I did take note of is that every new project application file seems to be quite large in size. I asked Shirley Hopkins about this and she offered the following comments about the file sizes and some additional insights on the finer points of FaceSpan 4.0.

In addition, it is important to note that although many FaceSpan veterans will be interested in making the transition to version four, there will be some acclimation necessary to become comfortable with this new environment. OS X as a whole represents some new frontiers and, as such, will require some renewed effort. These changes include access to the shell, Aqua-specific widgets and the like. You will have to invest a bit of time into these subjects despite your previous familiarity with this and other tools.

Finally, we must not forget one important question: What will it cost? Well, we don’t yet know what the street price will be for FaceSpan 4, but I think this will be what makes or breaks its success. Charge too much for FS4 and people will consider the additional obstacles within AppleScript Studio to be worth extra time to save the cash. Charge too little and DTI won’t be able to make enough to warrant future development. It’s as simple as that. My two cents? I say $99. No, that’s not as much as FS 3.5 was, but that version didn’t have to compete with a free equivalent from Apple back in those days. Couple that $99 with a bundle agreement with Late Night Software’s formidable Script Debugger (with external debugging tie-ins renewed, of course) and you’ve got yourself the best AppleScript tool set available, in my humble if somewhat biased opinion. And all for under $300.

In conclusion, we here at MacScripter are delighted to see DTI’s FaceSpan re-emerge as a formidable force in the AppleScript community and the OS X programming world at large. After all FS’s presence in the market can only be good news for AppleScript as a language.