AppBasic visits ROUGOLBy Mark Stephens. Published: 20th Jan 2004, 02:41:59 | Permalink | Printable
Mark Stephens and DGS retell Joe Taylor's demoYou may be aware that Joe Taylor has been 'touring' the usergroups to demonstrate his AppBasic tool. On Monday night Joe gave a live and enthusiastic demonstration for ROUGOL.
The trek to London
Joe travelled all the way from Brighton to central London, and back again, even after he originally set off in his car which failed half way up the first hill. Leaving an essentially useless car behind, he valiantly boarded the nearest train for London. True determination in advancing the RISC OS cause. Joe eventually left around 11pm, and not before the history of mathematics took over from computing science as the primary topic of conversation.
The presentation benefitted from the presence of a video projector, which for a demonstration like this is particularly essential - it was possible to read the system font from the far end of the room. Joe brought with him a PC laptop running VirtualRPC to demonstrate AppBasic, although he says he does own an Iyonix. Like previous speakers, Joe declined to demonstrate how long the laptop would last running VirtualAcorn without mains power.
The purpose of AppBasic is to simplify the writing of WIMP applications for RISC OS, and indeed Joe had something up and running in 3 minutes - it would have been quicker if he had not had to do the running commentary.
As Joe explained, Acorn realised that a lot of the design of a desktop application involved the repetitive work of coding the software that drives the user interface. So they produced the Toolbox, thus allowing programmers to design the interface from a set of standardised elements, namely menus, windows, colour pickers and so on. The developer would then set up these components in a resources file without the need for lots of coding.
What Joe has done is to extend this to produce what is essentially a rapid applications development environment using BASIC as the programming language. You can quickly design an application's windows and menus and AppBasic sets it all up so that you can assign BASIC code to be called as and when the user interacts with the designed user interface. Instead of reinventing the user interface code every time, you can put it together very quickly and concentrate on writing the "engine" code which does actually does something useful. Using the Toolbox also makes it very easy to modify or extend the application.
You may have to think slightly differently to get the most from AppBasic - it's about writing a program around the interface not just a piece of linear code - but Joe's demonstration was very impressive and AppBasic is intuitive and polished. Joe demonstrated Appbasic working seemlessly as an integrated environment with StrongED, has even more plans for it and is currently making it very easy to add multi-lingual support to applications.
Appbasic - bundled with lots of online documentation, a large selection of examples, is being actively developed and enhanced and it's free.
[Also, we're awaiting some digital photos too, which'll be posted when they arrive and thanks to drobe.co.uk usergroup writer dgs for his help in editing this article. - Ed]
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