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TokenIDE / Shaun McFall Interview
Posted by Ryan on 13 January 2013, 16:09 GMT

Two and a half years in development (and coming along very nicely, might I add!), Shaun "Merthsoft" McFall has released a new and much-improved version of TokenIDE, a highly useful utility for software development with a host of productivity-boosting features. We set out to catch up with Shaun in order to discuss TokenIDE and his other programming experience.




Shaun: Oh wow, this is very exciting—thank you for this opportunity! Let's jump right in!

ticalc: Let's start with some biographical information. Where are you from, what do you do, and how did you get into calcs? Who are you?!

Shaun: I now live in Madison, Wisconsin; I grew up between New Hampshire and Ohio. I work in research and development for Epic, a software company that focuses on electronic medical records. I studied Computer Science and Music in college. I'm 24 years old, and like doing things and stuff. That's basically who I am!



ticalc: Could you start by giving us a quick rundown of what TokenIDE is for those who are not familiar with it?

Shaun: TokenIDE is an editor for 83+-series programs and picture-files. It supports custom token-sets (to support libraries), has a sprite editor, and the beginnings of a DoorsCS GUI editor. It's a tool to help support BASIC development.



ticalc: TokenIDE is a considerable shift from other software that you have released for calcs, both in terms of concept and scope. What were some of the largest motivating factors for this project?

Shaun: The idea for TokenIDE came out when Celtic III was first released (around 2007). It was getting too difficult for me to remember all of the commands between Celtic and xLib, and I thought that it would be great for there to be an editor that used the actual function names rather than the calculator tokens. I sat on the idea for a while before doing anything with it, but that was the largest motivating factor: making something that supported all of the various hybrid libraries.



ticalc: What has the planning process been like for this project?

Shaun: The planning process has been largely non-existent. I have core ideas that I want to implement, but a lot of what is in there has been user-suggested or has deviated from my original ideas.



ticalc: What have been some of the largest challenges in creating this project?

Shaun: Trying to keep it cross-platform has been a challenge. For the most part, .NET makes this simple, but it took me a while to find, for example, a highlighting text editor control that would work under Linux (and that is not something that I wanted to do on my own).



ticalc: After having spent time with the software, it is clear there are opportunities for the inclusion of a dauntingly large number of functionalities. Do you currently have an ideal end-state or "finished product" in mind? If so, what would that look like?

Shaun: So, I have a roadmap for a 1.0 release, but not much for after that. I know that I want to support all the possible file-types for the 83+ series, and I know that I want to add more calculator support (89 support has been greatly asked-after). For the 1.0 release, I want to have the project functionality set up with some improvements to the editor that I want to make.



ticalc: Once the initial version of TokenIDE was released, what were your thoughts and feelings?

Shaun: I was very excited to finally get this project off the ground. I had a lot of support at Cemetech and Omnimaga, and I was really energized to add cool things.



ticalc: Switching to a more personal focus, how and when did you first get introduced to programming?

Shaun: I was first introduced to programming when I was around 12 or 13. My stepdad had bought us an old computer that had QuickBasic on it, and that was my start. After a few months of that I managed to find my parents' TI-82 calcs and started programming on them.



ticalc: Why types of programming have you done aside from calcs, and on what platforms?

Shaun: Quite a bit, between work and personal projects. Most of my personal programming is C#, work programming is spread across various languages and platforms. Some notable things that I have worked on professionally are a tool to spider through survey web pages, and a DICOM engine. A lot of my personal projects are available on Cemetech. I helped fuel the Prizm programming community with Minesweeper and Conway's Game of Life. I've also made a couple tools and tutorials for the Wolfenstein3D community.



ticalc: What would you say is your strongest programming skill, and what is your skill that needs the most work?

Shaun: Haha, this is starting to feel like a review! At least as far as TokenIDE goes, my strongest and weakest skills are kind of the same: design. There are parts of TokenIDE where I over-engineered it and it was just getting too complicated to maintain, though there are also parts where I was very cowboy and the same thing ended up happening. For the most part, though, I've been very careful to write the code and design it in a way that made it maintainable.



ticalc: What project or projects are you going to be working on in the near future, and what is your dream project?

Shaun: I definitely plan on continuing development on TokenIDE. I also recently purchased a Netduino and plan on doing some things for calculators with it (a couple ideas include reading calculator programs from an SD card, and a computerless gCn client).



ticalc: Do you have any advice for budding programmers?

Shaun: Program. Program a lot and challenge yourself.



ticalc: Anything else that you would care to share with the readers?

Shaun: I'd like to thank everyone who has helped to make TokenIDE what it is, and thanks everyone for reading! If you haven't yet tried TokenIDE, give it a shot and let me know if there's anything you'd like to see in it!








Thank you, Shaun, for taking the time to sit down and share with us!

  Reply to this article


The comments below are written by ticalc.org visitors. Their views are not necessarily those of ticalc.org, and ticalc.org takes no responsibility for their content.


Re: TokenIDE / Shaun McFall Interview
Merthsoft  Account Info

Thanks for the interview, Ryan :) I'd also like to thank some key people who have helped out along the way:
Kerm - He gave me the original token set so I wouldn't have to figure it all out on my own. He's also been a huge support throughout the whole project, featuring it on Cemetech while it was still in its infancy.
tifreak - Sooo much testing and ideas. There's no way TokenIDE would be where it is without him.
benryves - He has helped me with programming since I was still very new. Everything I know about C# I learned from him (and Eric Lippert).
Weregoose - Lots of testing and inspiration for features.
Runer - Helped with the XML files, especially for Axe.
Kevin O - Omnimaga has been very supportive of this project, and he's been following it since it was young.

I'm sure there are plenty of other people that I'm leaving out, and I'm sorry if I left you out! Lots of people have helped make TokenIDE what it is, and I've gotten lots of inspiration from everywhere :)

Thanks, guys :D

Reply to this comment    13 January 2013, 16:24 GMT

Re: Re: TokenIDE / Shaun McFall Interview
Stefan Bauwens  Account Info
(Web Page)

Nice interview, and congratulations on this feature. :)
I'm more of a 89 programmer, but this looks like an awesome utility.
Great work.

Reply to this comment    13 January 2013, 17:48 GMT

Re: Re: TokenIDE / Shaun McFall Interview
elfprince13 Account Info
(Web Page)

Nice work/Great interview Shaun! :)

Reply to this comment    14 January 2013, 03:38 GMT


Re: Re: TokenIDE / Shaun McFall Interview
James Vernon  Account Info
(Web Page)

Congrats on the feature Shaun! And great interview :)

Reply to this comment    16 January 2013, 08:08 GMT

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