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Chris Boss This series of articles is about getting started in using the PowerBasic Windows native code compiler. It is a tutorial about what the compiler is for and how it is used to write desktop applications, as well as standard Windows DLLs usable by other languages like C.
A little history. For programmers who have been around for awhile, they may be familiar with the name Turbo Basic.
That is where tools like Turbo C and Turbo Pascal ended up. Turbo Basic though had a different path. When Borland sold off their programming tools, they sold back the rights to TurboBasic to its original developer, Bob Zale and he renamed it PowerBasic.
Why would anyone want to do that, one may ask? Simply put, native coding directly to the operating system produces the best performance possible. So would not talking directly to the operating system provide better performance?
Actually it does. But who cares about performance anymore, since computers are so much faster today? Todays small Windows tablets for one require high performance applications since they usually have minimal hardware. Developers of performance critical apps, like graphic editors, look for every bit of performance they can get.
Embedded programmers also may want high performance apps so they can use minimal hardware. OK, so maybe you are interested in a native code compiler. So what are the key things one should know about the PowerBasic compiler before using it? How does the compiler work under the hood? The first thing to understand about PowerBasic is that the core compiler is written in assembler.
There are two reasons for this, 1 Fast compile speeds 2 fast and small executable code. Even hundreds of thousands of lines of code can be compiled in seconds rather than minutes. Executables have no runtimes required, but only the core Windows operating system DLLs ie.
No dot. No C runtimes. It works similar to CreateWindowEx, but is easier to impliment. DDT even provides a unique Canvas control which is not avalable in system controls , by using a simple trick. This is all done under the hood, so it appears like you have a real Canvas control. Most BASIC programmers are used to working with the variable length string data type and PowerBasic not only supports this, but it does so in a unique way.
The latest version of PowerBasic also supports Unicode strings as well. You can just pass the string by a pointer and it already has a NULL termination in it not needed for PowerBasic itself, but is there for multi-language support.
The PowerBasic string command set is extremely rich and is one benefit for programmers who write a lot of text string parsers. Lastly, PowerBasic allows inline assembler.
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GUI builders Why use dialogs instead of windows? A number of common messages are processed differently by this function. This extra processing basically benefits a Dialog with standard controls in areas such as the keyboard ie. Such things as MDI are not well suited to use with Dialogs.
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