Niftee-Tron Enterprises Readme-o-Matic: Hamlet

About This Production

First of all, This is still beta software. Most notably, the scripts that run the show are very fragile, and prone to errors. Don't move any of the pieces around or rename them, as the scripts will not know where their component parts are! Repeat after me: beta beta beta!

Notes for the OS X Version: See the Readme (included in the download)

Notes for the Mac OS 9 Version:

This release was tested and built under OS 9, and should work just as it does on 8.6 (this includes all the things that don't work under 8.6).

If you like, do 'get info' on any of the folders included to see what they're for.

This is a wholly new arena for Niftee-Tron Enterprises, and Option8 Multimedia. Not only the dramatic context - the last time I read Shakespeare was in high school - but also the medium in which it is presented.

Applescript, that long languishing Apple technology introduced with System 7, has recently seen a great deal of new effort put into it. While I've never done more than dabble in scripting before, I am very impressed and excited with the latest additions and improvements to one of the coolest, yet most underappreciated aspects of the MacOS.

And what better way to develop one's chops in Applescript than to create a self-running Shakespearean play? Sure, it's not what some people would do, but then, I'm the one that brought you the SnoGlobe-o-Matic. Go figure.

Anyhow, the play itself is contained in one-scene chunks in the "Play" folder, along with a plain text version of the play for you to print out and read along, if you'd like. In the "Cast" folder, you'll find all the various Dramatis Personae, and the unique, hand-made icons for each. These files are text files, empty for now, but in future versions, simple character sketches or background information can be found here for students and the idly curious.

Also Note: Since Hamlet relies upon two Apple technologies - Applescript and English Text to Speech - and I haven't been licensed by Apple to redistribute their products, if you don't have one or the other installed, Hamlet won't work. So, in order to enjoy the magic of 17th Century drama through 21st Century technology, you'll have to install Applescript from your system CD and download the following from (if you haven't already): English Text to Speech.

Installation and Instructions

To begin the play, you will need the following:
-Apple English Text-to-Speech software. As of this writing, version 1.5 is available on your System CD-ROM, or from Apple's website, and includes all the parts needed. (
-About 2 megs free RAM. Each scene is its own application, requiring between 500 and 1000k of RAM, just to be on the safe side, and to add in buffer for loading high-quality voices. 2 megs isn't much to ask these days.
-About 5 hours' time. This is a Shakespeare play, after all, not a Quentin Tarantino movie. These things are long, especially when read by the likes of Fred and Zarvox.
-Mac OS 8.5 or above. Some subtle things changed in Applescript from OS 8 to OS 8.5. Hopefully in the future, I'll be able to make two separate versions, one each for older Macs and newer ones, but for now, one big-ass script at a time is about all I'm able to handle.

To begin, click on 'Start Here' and sit back. The characters should appear in the "Hamlet" window, coming and going as they are directed by the Narrator. The play should run all the way through without incident or interaction. To stop the action at any point, simply close the Hamlet window or hold down Command and Period. You should then get a dialog asking if you want to continue the play. Click "OK" to continue, or "Cancel" to stop the action. If you want to pick back up again, you can start the play anywhere you like by running one of the individual pieces in the "Play" folder.

Beta Warning This is beta software, like almost everything else we release, and, as such, is probably replete with bugs and problems.

Some known issues include:
-Finding the scenes. The first time you play through the play, it may ask you to locate the scripts 'act 1, scene 1' and so on. Once you do this, you shouldn't have to do it again.
-Stopping playback. To stop the play in action, switch to the script application currenly active, hold the command key and hit period. In beta 5, we introduced the ability to stop the play, or pause it, by closing the Hamlet window. You may see an error message. Ignore it for now.
-Not all voices are installed on all systems. To check to see you have all the voices you need, especially if you are getting errors when playing individual scenes, it is best if you run the "Run Me First" script first. That's why it's there.
-About a billion pronunciation problems. Remember that Shakespeare did not have a Mac (though, if he did, we trust he would have written Applescript), and that Apple did not develop Trinoids and Zarvox for reading Olde English. Personally, I find the mispronunciation problems quaint.

If you find something wrong, please email describing the problem. All the scripts are compiled as applications, but can still be opened with the Script Editor should you feel like poking around inside. In fact, it is encouraged. It is also encouraged for you to send your modifications or suggested modifications to the authors to be included in future releases, as well as to further our scripting education.

We are not responsible, however, if you listen to this too much and start talking like Fred, the narrator.

Beta Notes and credits The following change logs are available in the "Run Me First" script and "Act 1, Scene 1" if you open them with the Script Editor.

Run Me First: quickly tests the availability and quality of all the voices necessary to Niftee-Tron Shakespeare's production of Hamlet.

changes in beta 5: updated to print which voices are missing, made playpath "more international" by danrod. Thanks, Dan!

Start Here/Act 1, Scene 1: General startup script and first scene for Hamlet version 1.

initial beta - very buggy, requires the folder be put on the desktop to be able to find all the pieces. yuck.

beta 2 - working out how to put the items anywhere. with startplay() i think this works. for some reason telling one thing to launch keeps the main application open. which sucks. managed to get all the paths straightened out. good for now.

beta 3 - fixed a few glitches in the applescript, added two new characters/icons - ophelia's corpse and yorick's skull - as well as cleaned up the icons for entry into pixelpalooza, working on adding in error checking. beta 4 - fixed voice test to run real tests for installed voices, though still buggy if you don't have all the voices. also checked for compatibility with OS9 - seems intact. added feature: current speaker is now highlighted so one can more easily see who is speaking.

beta 5 (big update!)- updated by Jim Tuttle who added in scrolling text in Quill (the scriptable text editor). That feature may be back in later beta or version 2, but is commented out, as I'm not certain of redistributing Apple's software. Additional improvements, and coding tips, are incorporated in beta 5 and up. Thanks Jim!

Also incorporated the suggestions of Paul Courtade for allowing for the possibility of changing names of folders or other peices of the Hamlet distro, with the new playpath/hamletpath global. Three somewhat complimentary implementations are included, two commented out for academia.

Also new, buggiest of all, is the ability to quit the play whilst playing, simply by closing the Hamlet window (a.k.a. the Stage) as per a suggestion from Mr. Tea

Fixed the problem of "Apple Event timed out" on launching the next scene. Basically built it into a try/on error statement, expecting an error.

About Niftee-Tron Enterprises Niftee-Tron Enterprises is affiliated with, and a wholly owned subsidiary of, Option¥8 Multimedia, and consists of one programmer and two cats. To contact us, please write to

We create simple, fun, bare-bones interactive software, intended to be at least as fun to play with as it is to program. All Niftee-Tron products are free to use and distribute - a little philosphy we call Floppyware. Almost all work on these nuggets is done on the weekends, between watching cartoons and cleaning house. Imagine if we did this full time?

This Niftee-Tron creation was built in Apple's Script Editor, using NeoIcon for the Cast icons.

This production of Hamlet, like all Niftee-Tron creations, is Floppyware. We, the authors (Arguably, William Shakespeare was the original author. So what. He's dead.) encourage you to put it on a floppy disk, make as many copies as you like, and give them to friends. You may use and distribute Floppyware products freely. If this program makes you smile, laugh, or just giggle a little, please send the author some email at

In the spirit of openness (and to expedite the finding and fixing of bugs) this product has been distributed in human-readable form. If you want to open the scripts in your editor of choice, please feel free to do so, and please share any modifications or suggestions with the authors.

We also encourage you to read the original rendition of Hamlet, a copy of which is included with this distribution. For other Shakespeare plays, and electronic texts from other authors, visit Project Gutenberg on the web at

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