The following text is meant as an introduction to HyperCard IIGS version 1.1. It is not a complete FAQ on HyperCard IIGS, although it could become that someday if it grows up. There is fact and opinion mixed together such as my belief that HyperCard IIGS is superior to HyperStudio. You can disagree and that's fine by me. If you disagree really strongly, you can write a rebuttal page ; ) If you have factual corrections or omissions you feel ought to be included, please email me with the same.
Updated on February 1, 1998.
is HyperCard IIGS?
What is the status of HyperCard IIGS?
Why Use HyperCard IIGS?
What is Hypermedia?
What is Hypertext?
What Other Hypermedia Programs are available for the Apple IIGS?
How is HyperCard IIGS related to HyperCard on the Mac?
What is HyperMover?
How can I exchange HyperCard stacks between a Mac and an Apple IIGS?
Where can I download HyperMover?
What is HyperTalk?
What's an XCMD? What's and XFCN?
What HyperCard IIGS-based products are available?
What Other HyperCard IIGS resources are available?
HyperCard Mailing List
Gareth Jones' HyperCard lessons
Apple Technical Info
APDA HyperCard IIGS Developers' Kit
IIGS (HCGS) is an
implementation of HyperCard (originally created on the Macintosh) for
the IIGS. It is a
hypermedia program, with built-in capabilities for playing sounds,
creating animations, and combining text and images on a single
HyperCard uses two important metaphors. A single screen is called a "card" while a document created by HyperCard is called a "stack". Stacks are composed of one or more cards.
A card can contain one or more of the following elements:
In addition, each card has a background layer, which can be shared by several cards. By placing one of the above three elements on a background layer, each card that shares that background automatically gets those buttons, fields and graphics. A stack can have several backgrounds.
HyperCard IIGS was reclassified as system software by Apple Computer Inc. in the summer of 1994. As such, it is free for downloading by services that have agreements with Apple. America Online, Genie, Delphi, and CompuServe all have this available. It is also available from Apple FTP sites, such as:
The Byte Works sells the manuals for HyperCard, as well as the disks that make up the set. Subscribers to Shareware Solutions II and to The Apple Blossom can also buy the disks from those publications.
HyperCard IIGS is to the Apple IIGS what Applesoft BASIC was to the original Apple II. It is a complete programming environment that lets you create your own solutions. Because HyperCard handles the creation of interface elements like Menus, Buttons, and Text Fields, you can concentrate on writing the code to accomplish tasks and have a polished user interface.
HyperCard IIGS has advantages over competing products such as HyperStudio, Nexus and Tutor-tech. The primary advantages are:
Hypermedia is the presentation of information via more than one medium. To give some examples, a typical word processor file is a presentation of information in one medium: text. Many people dress up such a presentation, however, by using a word processor or page layout program that allows them to add graphics. Now there are two media involved in the presentation. If this document, with its graphics and text is presented at a meeting, the presenter might also choose to have some background music playing--a third medium. If the presenter also uses a slide show, or a video, still more media are being added. The goal in this, of course, is to look cool--er, I mean, to present information in a richer, more detailed way to accommodate the different learning styles of those in the audience (I gotta use all those years at teacher college--once called normal school--for something).
HyperCard IIGS is a hypermedia program because you can combine text, still images, animations, sound and music. It is obviously computer-based, although with the IIGS's NTSC video out port and a VCR, you can videotape your HyperCard presentation and show it to someone using a VCR and television. The colors will be gross, but if you are careful in the use of colors (greyscale works pretty good for this) you can get a decent presentation that way. Better yet, use a computer and overhead projector with an LCD panel.
Hypertext is the ability to "jump" from one screen or page or card to another by clicking on a word. For example, in a field that mentions dolphins, a HyperCard author could set up the stack so that a user clicking on the word whales would jump to a card about whales. Hypertext is, of course, one of the big advantages of the World Wide Web, but it was HyperCard (on the Macintosh) that first popularized this capability on personal computers, and it is still a good way to implement this capability.
There are several programs that can be classified as Hypermedia programs that run on the Apple IIGS.
HyperStudio has more than a passing resemblance to HyperCard. It is published by Roger Wagner Studios, and is still sold by them. It ships with disks of clip art and clip sounds, as well as a small digitizer board and microphone. The board does not take up a slot, but connects to the fan power prongs and the audio connectors near the memory expansion slot. HyperStudio supports full color, 320 mode color graphics, and has two programming languages: SimpleScript, which ships with HyperStudio, and HyperLogo, which is an add-on product. Its native abilities can be extended with New Button Actions (NBAs) similar to XCMDs in HyperCard. It requires an Apple IIGS and 1 MB of RAM.
Roger Wagner Publishing
1050 Pioneer Way
El Cajon, CA 92020
phones: 619-442-0522 (tech support)
Nexus is a IIGS program that links together text and Appleworks files together with graphic screens and sound, and that employs hypertext. It is now freeware.
Tutor-tech is an 8-bit program that works much like HyperCard or HyperStudio. Graphics and text can be combined on a page, along with hyperlinks. It is published by Tech-Ware.
P.O. Box 151085
Altamonte Springs, FL 32715-1085
HyperCard IIGS version 1.1 reproduces almost all of the capabilities of HyperCard 1.2.5 on the Macintosh. It also has full color capabilities (within the limitations imposed upon any 640-mode IIGS desktop program) as well as a few additional HyperTalk commands that were incorporated into later HyperCard Mac revisions (notably the "ask file" and "answer file" commands). Because of this, books written about HyperCard 1.2.5 on the Mac can be very useful for learning about HyperCard IIGS.
HyperMover is a pair of stacks, one for HyperCard IIGS, the other for HyperCard Mac that are used in tandem to port stacks from one platform to another. HyperMover can "disassemble" a stack, creating a folder with instructions for the text, buttons, icons, pictures, and scripts in the stack, which can then be re-assembled into a stack by HyperMover on the other platform.
In order to exchange stacks between a Mac and a IIGS you must use HyperMover. There is a HyperMover stack for each computer: IIGS and Macintosh. On the originating computer HyperMover is used to deconstruct a stack, and on the second computer HyperMover is used to reconstruct the stack
HyperMover isn't able to convert XCMDs or XFCNs. Nor can it port the colors in a HyperCard IIGS stack to the Mac. Any color elements on the IIGS will need to be re-colorized on the Mac.
Some resources are converted, notably sounds and icons.
HyperMover Mac requires that the Macintosh stack's window be in the "classic" size of 512 X 384 pixels (the original Mac screen size). While it can convert paintings and graphic elements, it results in a fairly blocky image on the Apple IIGS. Another strategy for converting the graphics is to export the HyperCard screens as MacPaint graphics, and then to import those on the IIGS. Yes it takes more time. But the results are worth it.
Use the following link to get to the HyperCard IIGS 1.1 area on Apple's ftp servers. You can download both the Apple IIGS and Macintosh stacks from this directory.
HyperTalk is the programming language built into HyperCard IIGS. It is an interpreted language (much like Applesoft BASIC) that has to be recompiled on the fly every time it is used. However, it is VERY accessible and easy to learn (if you have some books to get some help on it), and can help you to create powerfully functional programs for all sorts of uses. Some of the most useful books that you can use to help learn HyperTalk are listed in the bibliography.
While being an interpreted language makes HyperCard IIGS slower in some respects than HyperStudio 3.1j, the performance of a stack can be improved with good scripting habits. And HyperTalk gives much greater power to a user than HyperStudio's SimpleScript.
An XCMD (pronounced "ex-command", itself short for external command) is a bit of code, usually written in C, Pascal or Assembly, that is attached to a stack as a resource, and which can extend an existing HyperCard IIGS command, or give it an entirely new command.
An XFCN (pronounced "ex-function", short for external function) is a similar code resource which extends or adds a new HyperTalk function.
There are several stacks available on the following two sites:
In addition, there are several other sources for HyperCard info and stacks.
The HyperCard Mailing List
Information about the HyperCard Mailing List updated on November 23, 1997.
The HyperCard Mailing List is a Macintosh, HyperCard 2.x centered mailing list, which nevertheless can be of great interest to HyperCard IIGS users. In order to subscribe to the list, send a message to:
with the body of the message containing the word subsingle to subscribe to the full list, or subscribe to receive a daily digest. For more information, see the HyperCard Resource Page's Mailing List info at:
Gareth Jones' HyperCard IIGS Lessons
Gareth Jones has written nine articles for his user group's newsletter, and they have been reproduced here on this site: Gareth's HyperCard IIGS Lessons
There are nine articles dealing with many aspects of using HyperCard including making minipictures of cards, find and replace routines, and moving sound resources into stacks.
Apple Technical Information
Apple Computer, Inc. has provided several Technical Notes and Technical Information articles on HyperCard IIGS. They are linked to below for your convenience.
- HyperCard IIGS Technical Note 1: Corrections to the Script Language Guide
- HyperCard IIGS Technical Note 2: HyperCard Bugs
- HyperCard IIGS Technical Note 3: Pitching Sampled Sounds
Articles from the Technical Information Library
- Script for Setting Text Color
- HyperCard IIGS Specifications
The HCGS Developers' Kit is an APDA product, available from The Byte Works. This 2-disk set includes: an updated "Picture" XCMD, an article on XCMDS and XFCNs, documentation for the Media Control Stack and XCMD, a list of differences between versions 1.0 and 1.1 of HCGS, sample source code for XCMDs, "include" code for APW and MPW to create XCMDs and XFCNs, and -- most importantly -- rMover 1.1d1 (an application to move resources into and between stacks).
In August, 1995, Mike Westerfield of The Byte Works, announced that he had secured permission to put the HyperCard IIGS manuals back in print. The cost of these is detailed below:
Getting Started with HyperCard IIGS
HyperCard IIGS Reference
HyperTalk Beginner's Guide IIGS
HyperCard IIGS disks
APDA 48-51 in a package
To order, call Mike Westerfield at the Byte Works at 505-898-8183 or send email to MikeW50@aol.com
I don't own all of these APDA products, but I did purchase the HyperCard IIGS Reference. It is very detailed in its discussion of HyperCard, but it does not delve very deeply into HyperTalk.
HyperCard IIGS Script Language Guide: The HyperTalk Language Publisher: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., Reading, Massachusetts, USA; copyright (c) 1991; ISBN 0-201-57766-6; 402 pages, including index.
This text is the premier one to get for learning HyperCard IIGS. Unfortunately it is out of print, and it is not listed among the many APDA books that Mike Westerfield of the Byte works has managed to get permission to reprint. I managed to get one on the used market. The Script Guide gives a good explanation of each HyperTalk command and function, with examples for writing an XCMD.
The Complete HyperCard Handbook Second Edition by Danny Goodman; Publisher: Bantam Books, New York, New York, USA; copyright (c) 1988; ISBN 0-553-34577-X; 875 pages including index.
Danny Goodman is one of the most prolific writers about applications for the Macintosh, and has several HyperCard books to his credit. This edition covers through Mac version 1.2.5, which makes it an excellent resource for HyperCard IIGS users. It first explains how to use HyperCard, then goes into detail about writing HyperTalk scripts. A must have book. Available used for very little (my copy cost $2.00), it makes visiting a Mac user group meeting's annual auction a worthwhile date for the IIGS user ; ) Available used.
HyperTalk Programming by Dan Shafer; Publisher: Hayden Books, Indianapolis, IN, USA; copyright (c) 1988; ISBN 0-672-48426-9; 548 pages including index.
Dan Shafer's guide to HyperTalk programming only covers through version 1.1 on the Macintosh, which means some features of HyperCard and HyperTalk are not covered here, because they were not around at the time the book was published. It is still useful however, and has many HyperTalk examples that you can employ in your own stacks. Available used.
The Complete HyperCard 2.0 Handbook, Third Edition by Danny Goodman; Publisher: Bantam Books, New York, NY, USA; copyright (c) 1990; ISBN 0-553-34893-0; 892 pages with index.
This is the same basic book as Goodman's first book, updated for the new features of HyperCard 2.0. Because of this it probably isn't as good a resource for the Apple IIGS user, because some features in Macintosh HyperCard 2.0 are not present in HyperCard IIGS, and it could be misleading. However, if you find this one used, it will be worth the $2.00 to $5.00 that it will probably cost. Available used.
Cooking with HyperTalk 2.0 by Dan Winkler and Scott Knaster; Publisher: Bantam Books, New York, NY, USA; copyright (c) 1990; ISBN 0-553-34738-1; 303 pages with index and disk.
Dan Winkler is the creator of HyperTalk, and as might be expected, his cookbook is very interesting. The idea is to create scripts which create new functions that can be called from other scripts. While some of the scripts will not work in HyperCard IIGS, many will with only minor tweaking and use of XCMDs. Available used.
HyperTalk 2.0: The Book by Dan Winkler and Scot Kamins; Publisher: Bantam Books, New York, NY, USA; copyright (c) 1990; ISBN 0-553-34737-3; 958 pages including index.
This is a detailed, step-by-step walk through each command and function of HyperTalk 2.0. Some commands are not applicable for HyperCard IIGS, of course, but this is a very useful book nonetheless. Available used.
This document is copyright (c) 1997 by Apple Blossom Publishing and Steve Cavanaugh. Permission for reprinting, inclusion in other works, resale or other re-publication must be obtained from the author.
Apple, Apple IIGS, HyperCard, HyperTalk, Macintosh, and IIGS are registered trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc.