Programmers: What language recommended after Y2K? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I still think a meltdown next year is a good possibility. But preps include covering the possibility of a BITR or not much worse.

So, assuming we still have electricity and functiong PCs, what PC language would you recommend for PERSONAL project programming? To write programs for standalone, single user, etc. You know, like before the mainframe guys regrouped and got everyone linked and sharing again.

By this I mean, no concerns as to does learning the language qualify one to get a "job" or a "consulting assignment". That is, it doesn't have to be the trendy language "du jour". It doesn't have to have network capabilities. It doesn't have to have internet capabilities.

It should have database and charting capabilities.

It should not have a humuguous learning curve and as a corollary to that, one should be able to walk away from it for a month or so, and be able to pick it up again without "going back to school" as do the languages now where you have to immerse yourself 24/7 just to maintain.

I program in Access and VB. They are fine if someone wants to PAY me. But only as a last resort would I use them for my own personal projects. Any suggestions?

-- vbProg (, December 13, 1999


uh, how are you at AbacusAssembler?

-- (@ .), December 13, 1999.

What language ? After reading some of the posts here, maybe Russian ? Hehehe. Sorry. Just a joke.

-- Rob (, December 13, 1999.


Well, I grind out COBOL plus a little PL/I and assembler for a crust, but if I need a little quick and dirty program at home I usually use VB5 or occassionally the free Fujitsu COBOL if I see a possible need to port it to the mainframe.

VB seems okay to me, but I'm the opposite of you, I'd hate to write it for a living, I just couldn't imagine writing a major app in it!

If I was going to learn a new language I'd probably jump towards Java, I've got a little C++ so it wouldn't be too hard to get into and the job opportunities in Australia at the moment are fantastic, Java's just about the hottest thing around. That might well change of course, ADA was like that here for a while!



-- Ron Davis (, December 13, 1999.

The following "language" should be declared as the one that future computer science professionals (assuming that there will be a future for such) should engage in at all times when they write code:


(You know, like don't write programs that will fail or misbehave BY DESIGN, like for example when a certain DATE rolls around. Not that anyone would ever do this, of course. Just a far-fetched example to get the point across....)

-- King of Spain (madrid@aol.cum), December 13, 1999.

I'm a VB programmer myself, although a commercial-level one. Yes, it is actually possible to write top-quality software in VB but you'd darn well better understand error handling. [manic grin]

But, when it comes to that ONE magic language that has universal capabilities and can be adapted to any technology, the only thing that jumps to mind is C and its more refined brother, C++.

C (and to a slightly lesser degree in some cases) C++ port to most any platform and OS. Executables compile to machinecode and run like the wind, where VB apps compile to virtual-machine-level pseudocode that requires a special environment (the virtual machine I mentioned, such as MSVBVM60.DLL) to run and correspondinly take several times longer to do the same task.

Best of all, if you're a really good, clean VB coder you should be able to jump to C/C++ without too much effort. With a couple books (Hello C/C++ for Dummies!) I ported the core code from one of my commercial projects into an ActiveX OCX in three days, and this was my first attempt at making ANYTHING in C/C++ that would so much as compile without blowing up the whole machine. At the third day I compiled it and got that occasionally elusive goal of C/C++ programmers: (0) errors, (0) warnings. The result was my core code went from 270+ KB to 24 KB and picked up about 70% more performance. (This is not much but my code was hardware-sensitive and you'll only gain so much when you still have hardware as an equalizer. If not for this it'd probably be more like 10x faster or more.)

C and C++ are well worth learning no matter what you code and what you code it on or for. Once you write code in C/C++ you can port it (with varying degrees of effort) to most anywhere.

O d d O n e

-- OddOne (, December 13, 1999.

Great question!!

Sorry to say, I think VB is probably the best choice. But, even VB these days is often more an exercise of "hassling with the compiler and the project managers" than an exercise in programming...which programming is supposed to be about, of course...

I heard a great line once: "A good 'personal' programming language should make it easy to write a phonelist manager application after 3 beers." By that criterion, Apple's HyperTalk was (is?) a marvelous language: synonyms (you could say something a number of ways and they'd "all be corect"), forgiving, english-like...a marvel.

Personally, I wish there were good Windows-based Pascal development enironments around; but there aren't. Along with Modula-II, a very nice language.

You might also check out Python...a pretty cool language with a lot of good features.

If we have Big Problems (and I'm no polly...), I hope the world standardizes on Ada for large projects. And, although I'm no fan of government regulation, I think that licensing programmers is NOT a bad idea. You cab driver needs a license, but the guy that programs "your money" for the bank? He/she just has to get by the interview...very dumb.

Anyway, best of luck. Like you, I'd love to find a new, good "personal programming language."

-- joe (, December 13, 1999.

Can the world start over and be rebuilt with object oriented programming?

-- fresh start (is@it.goodchoice?), December 13, 1999.

How about Eunuchs :)

-- snooze button (, December 13, 1999.

I'll just continue to use COBOL and Fortran...I hear that there is a cool COBOL compiler that runs on the Java machines...

-- Mad Monk (, December 13, 1999.

joe adeveloper: -- you quoted "A good 'personal' programming language should make it easy to write a phonelist manager application after 3 beers." That's it exactly!! Or after how many joints?

-- vbProg (, December 13, 1999.

This is certainly a fun question! Here are some considerations:

1. The C language's time_t data structure used for maintaining system time is a count of seconds elapsed since Jan 1 1970. This count will "rollover" in 2038. C is probably not a good choice.

2. Many C++ data structures rely on time_t, other structures do not (Like the Windows COleDateTime class). Still, because C++ allows for potential time_t overflows, it's also is not a good choice.

3. Microsoft proprietary desktop languages like VB and VC do grant developers a wider range of options for date time storage, but the desktop computer as a plaform is rapidly becoming obsolete as the world moves closer to internetworked solutions. VB and VC are adaquate, but suspect. In my opinion, Microsoft properietay languages are a poor career choice as well.

With that in mind, I prefer solutions written in Java. Java is easy, robust, and supported by a wide range of tools. Java is also a good choice for internetworked applications.

If you're absolutely set on developing for single user Windows based platforms though, go with VB and VC. Most of all, have fun, live long, and prosper!

-- Holly

-- Holly Douglas (, December 14, 1999.

What language? Chinese, of course. (just a joke. Not very funny, huh?)

-- Liz (, December 14, 1999.

Funny, I've worked with a large number of different languages over the past 20 years, and I've yet to see a single language that makes it even the least bit difficult to write bad code.

The language is not the problem. The problem is with insufficient systems analysis, poor requirements definition, lack of communication with the customer, failure to follow standards, marketing driven deadlines, serious failure to correctly estimate the amount of work required, and insufficient testing. Among others.

That being said, I often prefer higher order languages for many applications because they save a great deal of time. Try writing "Hello, World" in C or C++ for Windows by making all your own WIN32 API calls. In VB, it's a one-liner (MsgBox).

On the other hand, there are a great many applications for which C++ is by far the best choice.

Got to write an algorithm for solving the "Towers Of Hanoi" problem? LISP shines in this arena.

Are you writing a device driver? Microcode controller (firmware)? Real-time application? A game? A SQL app? An n-tier networked application? The 'right' language varies with the application.

I suspect that this will remain true well into the future. Languages will continue to become more sophisticated but there will never be a single ur-language.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, December 14, 1999.

Short answer: VB.


Compiliation - yes, there is a threaded P-Code form of execution. There is also a native executable complilation mode also, which uses the same backend compiler as the C++ compiler. The VB IDE quietly builds the object files, runs the linker, then the compiler, then cleans up the intermediate files.

Server stuff - you can do *amazing* things with VB using the ASP API, or its incredible wrapper, the "WebClass". Create a new VB6 project, and tell it you want it to be an "IIS Application", then play with the project while you peruse the docs.

Or, read my articles on using VB to create Internet server apps in VBPJ. [shameless plug]

The Coming Obsolescence Of The Desktop - wake me up when it happens. Sure, McNealy & Co. would *love* to see a quarter century of progress reversed, to bolster *their* outdated server-centric technology. But it ain't gonna happen.

The biggest -- if not the *overriding* -- force driving Java is *not* anything Java can do, but rather, a combined fear and hatred of Microsoft.

Some outfits have a "NIH" (Not Invented Here) mentality. What drives the Java meatheads is the mirror image of that school of thought. It's the "NIT" (Not Invented THERE!) pathology.

Having said that, I think I'll sit back and wait for a parade of fools shouting everything from "line numbers suck" to "Get a Mac!"

-- Ron Schwarz (, December 14, 1999.

So far it looks like VB, maybe JAVA, are most suited to my purposes. But is JAVA suited to single user standalone apps?

BTW, don't think you are constrained by whatever date functions your application program supplies. I have a Book from Microsoft Press that actually has some useful information (wonder of wonders). It is Microsoft QuickBasic Programmer's Toolbox, 1988.

There are functions (code given in BASIC) for all kinds of date manipulations, like check that date entered is valid, day of week, number of days between dates, seconds since whenever (make sure your data type is large enough), day of year, etc.

Basically, you convert your date into a Julian date or vice versa -- calculations good for 1583-01-01 to indefinite future, accounting for leap years and century adjustments. And if you set up a library of these functions, you are not constrained by your App's date data type -- you can just use a string (YYYYMMDD), and parse it as required (also a function to go in your library).

-- vbProg (, December 14, 1999.

Or if you are interested in time (hh:mm:ss) you might have to use a decimal number data type -- everything to the left of the decinal being the date and everything to the right the time and write some functions to parse and massage whatever you are interested in.

-- vbProg (, December 14, 1999.

Schwarz: Since the virus makers are always a step ahead of the antibiotics -- and even an "immune system" response requires an infection first, I too do not see the demise of the standalone, isolated (really physically isolated, not firewalled) machine.

PCs are getting cheap enough that we all can have two or more -- one isolated, one connected to the world. And never the twain shall meet unless files examined and scrubbed are transferred by "sneaker LAN" from the vulnerable one to the secure one.

Providing of course, we still have electricity. :o)

-- vbProg (, December 14, 1999.

I'll cast my vote for Java. It's the United States of Programming Languages; By Of and For The Programmer (Grin). Seriously, I don't know anyone who started programming in Java and later wished they hadn't.


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), December 14, 1999.

Plain TRUTH, with a major error trapping routine for dishonesty.

My favorite was BAL, but then I love to know how things work at the nitty gritty level. PL/1 was pretty cool too. Been a LONG WHILE! JCL was for the true code-heads, lots of knowledge, little common sense {|8^}`~~

-- Michael (, December 14, 1999.


I'm sorry if you interpretted my post as being some kind of Microsoft bash. I've made a lot of money over the years programming for Microsoft platforms, and I'm making even more money doing it today.

I focus on internet enabled applications. In my experience, writing this class of application is a lot easier with the Enterprise Java Platform. If a client insists that I write a solution using Microsoft technologies, I will gladly accomodate them, but I immediately triple the fee, and reduce any quality assurances that I may have made. It's just a personal prefernence - that's all.

I'll make my choice and you can make yours. I hope the best for both of us.

-- Holly

-- Holly Douglas (, December 14, 1999.

C++ and Java. Screw (so to write) VB. Stay multi-platform.

-- Mori-Nu (, December 14, 1999.


-- Dean -- from (almost) Duh Moines (, December 14, 1999.

Dean, is FORTH still around? I haven't heard it mentioned for years. Why "Go FORTH"?

-- vbProg (, December 14, 1999.

FORTH is the best! Now, back to reality. Java + Perl. Linux. That's to like. Realistically? If it is a matter of cobbling together systems on "mad max (bill)" desktops that crash 2X more than they do now because the Y2K bit hard but that we "have" to use? OK, VB.

-- BigDog (, December 14, 1999.

If you're coming from VB, go straight to Java. Skip out the C/C++ step, you'll just poke your eye out with the pointers.

-- Servant (, December 14, 1999.

There are almost as many answers as programmers. I just got through a Java class at WMU, and I came to the conclusion that Java blows! It could have something to do with the fact that I downloaded and ran an application on a linux box here at school and it was so pathetically slow it was unusable. That could be due to Linux's implementation of the JVM.

Visual basic sucks for the same reason: slow.

Java is a nice idea, though. I like the idea of using a common API for multiple machines, so it won't matter if you are on a Mac or a PC or some high end SparcServer. There's no reason you couldn't do that in C++.

I believe that the language of the future will have to be object oriented, like Java or C++.

Imagine how much simpler the Y2K fix would be if we were dealing with a largely OO software base.

If your dates looked something like:

Date checkDate = new Date(checkCashed.getDate());

if (checkDate.compareTo(currentDate, lessThan)) { /* Do something */

All that would need to be done is to change the date structure from two to four digit years and recompile. The actual date could be made Y2K compliant and the application would not need major changes, just the methods and attributes of the date class.

Compared to what I work with on a daily basis (*retch* RPG IV), it would be much simpler and much more efficient.


-- Tim the Y2K nut (, December 14, 1999.


For PC database and business apps, you can't beat Clarion for Windows. Very intuitive language, executes much faster than VB (compiler written by the folks who wrote the one for Turbo Pascal), creates both 16 & 32-bit apps, transparent database support (same file i/o statements for using dBase, FoxPro, ODBC, etc.), and many other niceties. I have to write occasionally in VB and VC, but will choose Clarion every time if the choice is mine. It is definitely a faster development environment. You can get more info at No, I don't work for them. I'm just a big fan of their product.

-- Coder (Coder@Work.Now), December 14, 1999.

Well, if you don't want a "humuguous learning curve" I guess Assembly is out. Yea, I'm a little nuts, but asm is my favirite, mainframe and PC.

I think Java will be hot (pun intended), and C is almost as powerful as asm. But both also have a big curve.

Since you already know Basic, have you checked out Liberty Basic? It doesn't have all of the "features" of VB, but it is nice for "quick and dirty" win stuff. Unlimited shareware, register it and you get the stand-alone run-time engine.

Liberty BASIC v1.42

Now if you're really serious, consider Visual Studio. Yea, expensive, but look at what you get: Visual Basic, C++, Java++, ForPro, and InterDev, backend tools like Personal Web Server, Transaction Server, and SQL Server, a bunch of utilities, and 3 CD's worth of documentation.

IMHO, the future is web based technology, and Studio does a pretty good job of supporting it, as well as "standard" Windows based programs, in all of the above languages. But talk about a learning curve... <:)=

Microsoft Visual Studio

-- Sysman (, December 14, 1999.

Coder -- I looked at the Clarion site, but not thoroughly yet. Looks like the database handling stuff is good. What about charts; my interest is custom financials -- line graphs on Open/High/Low/Close price charts, plotting moving averages and more esoteric indicators, autofit axes, etc.

-- vbProg (, December 14, 1999.

I'll cast my vote for Java. It's the United States of Programming Languages; By Of and For The Programmer (Grin). Seriously, I don't know anyone who started programming in Java and later wished they hadn't.

-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), December 14, 1999.

I don't care for Java much, from what exposure I've had to it; I prefer C++, as it gives me more control. Note that this doesn't mean I like Windows programming, which I despise.

-- Steve Heller (, December 14, 1999.

Howdy Steve,

Yea, I liked the days of DOS programming myself. Life was so much easier then. In days of old, when men were bold...

But give me a mainframe with CICS and a bunch of "dumb" terminals any day. Now that's control... <:)=

-- Sysman (, December 14, 1999.

Re VB being slow: Huh? Are you running 1.0 on a Win3 286? VB is as fast as C++, it uses the same compiler!

Re Clarion's compiler supposedly being written by authors of Turbo Pascal: "Turbo Pascal" is currently known as "Delphi". The former head of the Delpi project at Borland has been over at MS leading VB development for probably two years or so.

Re Java being platform-independant: I take it you haven't been keeping up with McNealy's latest ravings, where he's taking back his toys and leaving the "sandbox"?

COBOL may have been the first language designed by a committee, but it looks like Java is the first language written by a bunch of sore losers.

-- Ron Schwarz (, December 14, 1999.

VHDL is NOT recommended. Not very intuitive.

-- Flint (, December 14, 1999.

BigDog -

Geez, how long ago did we have that FORTH thread? Many, many moons, certainly...


-- Mac (, December 14, 1999.

Mac -- are you saying the "FORTH" syntax is not forthright? :=)

-- vbProg (, December 14, 1999.

Gawd! You guys are great!

And if we ever agree on what the definition of "is" is... you can recompile the world!

Meanwhile... more water 'n food. (For the rest of us programming dunderheads).


-- Diane J. Squire (, December 14, 1999.


I don't care for Java much, from what exposure I've had to it; I prefer C++, as it gives me more control. Note that this doesn't mean I like Windows programming, which I despise.

I understand where you're coming from. Anytime you give up direct memory/address access you're sacrificing control. But as a General Purpose language (with a slant towards web/connectivity) Java is a great choice. Robust, flexible and VERY forgiving compared to C/C++.

Yeah, it suffers from the same political problems other languages did/do but it is really the first language that I've seen that was developed with the programmer in mind AND did not have an existing code base to support. From time to time I miss having a preprocessor (C++ and Clipper both had *GREAT* PPs) but I can understand from a philosophical standpoint the reason for excluding one.

It's not perfect but on the major platforms (PC/Sun/Unix/IBM Mainframe) the runtime is almost as fast as native code and it's a hell of a lot more 'platform independant' than any of the C/C++ variations I've seen. Not perfect, but close.


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), December 14, 1999.

remember...this thread started with a question about what's the best "personal" programming language.

I can understand how everybody wants to chime in on the "This is the best language question" (always fun), but that's not the question.

I'll take another whack at it. The best "personal" language is the one you have the most fun programming in. Given that, Basic (name your flavor), FORTH (a fun language for people who like putting on their coat first, then their underware -g-), some of the very pure object languages, Effiel, etc. and other Smalltalk derivatives...

I may get flamed here, but the most "fun" programming language is English. The best programmers I've known "did it it english first"; refined their algorithms, program flow and structure, and only then "dropped down" to their language of choice, or the language best suited to doing what they wanted to do.

-- joe (, December 14, 1999.


Ever do COBOL? That's about as English as it gets... <:)))=

-- Sysman (, December 15, 1999.

Gee, I hate to tell Algore.ism, but I invented the internet on a Kaypro, running CPM, which I networked together with one of Novels original token rings. Set myself up as a hub for selling office products to Purchasing Agents. Somewhere around '81. Drew up an online auction in '83, Couldn't convince a single money man to get on board.

My only claim to name/fame is, I was good buds with Jobs when he was going to college at Reed, here in Portland, just before....well you know. We battled for hours on that Pong machine, at the Hobbit Tavern. We eventually lost contact and I knew nothing of his whereabouts for a couple of years. Boy, talk about drawing the short straw. [g].

-- Michael (, December 15, 1999.

Michael -

Dude! Seen Dan Kottke lately? Sad story there. Followed Jobs to India, was employee #4 or thereabouts at Apple, but got seriously lost in the early shuffles.

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), December 15, 1999.

Well, I've posted on this thread already, but I've just got to agree that PL/I is the coolest language, probably because it was the first I learnt.

My claim to fame is ownership of the first Apple II sold in Australia, I've still got the manual for the disk drive (had to wait *months* for that, oh the joys of cassette storage). It included hand written notes by Woz! Cost me about 4 months of a programmer's salary, but then I had it loaded with 32K, the standard was 4K, IIRC. Also had a voice recognition board, that freaked people in late 1978!

Everybody said I was crazy buying a machine with a proprietary bus, S100 was all the rage then! RonD

-- Ron Davis (, December 15, 1999.

Hey Ron,

My first "home PC" was an Atari/800. Same 6502 micro as the Apple. It was far from a toy, with 64K, and a single-sided diskette drive, 180K I think.

Speaking of Assembly, I liked the 6502. Nice architecture for an 8 bit machine, except it didn't have hardware multiply or divide, like the x86. But neither did the original 8080, or any other common CPU in those days. You had to do your own "shift and add" routines to multiply, or "subtract and shift" to divide. Aaahhh, machine language, ain't it grand? <:)=

-- Sysman (, December 15, 1999.

I downloaded Liberty BASIC, including FreeForm screenbuilder. Somewhat different syntax than Visual Basic. I see that making stock/commodity charts would be possible but tedious using pen/turtle commands. But, unless I find an add-on for VB, it would be the same tediousness with either language. I'm not yet sure if, or to what extent it supports UDFs. The sample code I saw was very simplistic and used goto and labeled destinations; I didn't see any UDF calls. I also wonder what the advantage of it over Microsucks VB would be in you alreay have Microsucks'?

Clarion for Windows looks interesting. I ordered their demo disk. But $700 for "Professional Edition" and $1500 for "Enterprise Edition"? Yikes!, as some would say. I had a friend who used Clarion for DOS maybe seven or so years ago to build a pretty comprehensive real estate app, first time out with it. He liked it fairly well, but knowing it didn't get him any jobs to speak of. The new version sounds like it improves some areas my friend complained about. But $700 for a "personal" programming language?

-- vbProg (, December 15, 1999.

IF no recent posts THEN GOTO top END IF

-- vbProg (, December 15, 1999.

Michael you liar, *I* invented the Internet, using a Televideo 804/16 with a handful of TS800A workstations and a frankensteined TS803 standalone with an RS-422 card, running CP/M over MMMost. The stststuttering Algore stole the idea when he heard the NOS's name, that's where *he* got the idea to claim the invention.

A Kaypro indeed, harumph!

-- Ron Schwarz (, December 15, 1999.

Well I'll draw some fire, what the heck. First, Visual Basic MAY use the same compiler as Visual C++ (both of which suck pathetically) but that in NO way means that Visual Basic is as FAST as C++. Second, NOTHING that runs on a Microsoft platform runs FAST, frequently it won't run at all, and sometimes it will lock up the whole system. That is because Microsoft's operating system is an inferior product. That situation has developed over time due to Microsoft's constant changes to their interfaces to try to BREAK other people's products so they can obtain a market advantage. Never-the-less, everyone (almost) is stuck with WinBloze due to Microsoft's success at breaking other peoples products and other questionable business practices. So what is a GOOD language to do personal programming in on something that runs ANY OS... Visual Basic... After all that is what Microsoft wants you to use so you will have less trouble with the OS if you stick with their inferior language.

And YES that was intended as a slam on Microsoft... I have a Linux PC with 64 megs of ram serving mail and running a name sever for over two thousand users. IT IS A Pentium 120. It shows a nominal load of around 20 percent most of the time. Try that on ANY Microsoft Product... Oh yeah... its been up constantly for over 70 days. The last time it was down was for me to install a new kernel.

Just can't wait till they take that monopoly apart...

-- (...@.......), December 15, 1999.


I love VB. It's a fantastic language, I make decent money writing with it -- and about it -- and on top of that, I *detest* Unix. Fortunately, I haven't had to mess with a shell account in a year or so. It feels good!

-- Ron Schwarz (, December 15, 1999.

Hi Sysman

CLI RECPOST,X'00' * Test recent post flag

BE TOP * No recent post, create one

Amazing number of responses generated!

The Atari 800 was a darn good, solid machine, I quite fancied one myself. I bought a TI 99/4A as my next machine, based on the TMS9900 processor, weird instruction set and no real (hardware) General Purpose Registers, but at least there was Multiply and Divide. Still used shifts and adds often though, they were quicker in many cases!


-- Ron Davis (, December 15, 1999.

Howdy gang.


Many of the samples in Liberty Basic are for new users. To be honest, I haven't used it in a while, so I'm not sure of it's current status. But it does have a fair amount of add-on stuff. Check out their site links.

I'm not sure of what you are looking for here. I mentioned LB because I've found it to be "easy to use," without all of the overhead of the VB IDE. Since you already know Basic, it's nice for the quickie, and it's virtually free.

On the other hand, VS gives you everything that you will need, to develop both Web-based and Windows-based programs, in the language of your choice. But, yes, do expect to spend $?000.00 for it.

I don't think the specific language matters much. Whatever you feel comfortable with. But the idea, of web-based, or browser-based applications is where the future will take us, just my not-so-humble- opinion. I'm not talking about the internet, I'm talking about the CORPORATE INTRANETS. The same TECHNOLOGY as the internet, but on already-built corporate, local area networks. It's what my company is doing. We are taking our Windows based applications (and a few old mainframe based apps), and moving them to web-based technology. The browser is the user interface, FOR EVERYTHING! SQL Server, Transaction Server, Java, TCP/IP, all of the technogogies used on the internet, but running on our LAN.

Also, I pretty much agree that VB isn't bad. That's why I'm not sure of what you're looking for.


Yes, I would love to see Linux take over the world. I'm also a big fan of Novell. But if I want to survive, in today's world, I've got to dev for win. That's where the desktops are. That where the servers are. That's where the money is, and will be going, for a while, IMHO.


Actually, CLI RECPOST,X'00' looks more like an IBM S/360-370-390 mainframe instruction. The 6502 version would look like CMP RECPOST and then you would have to check the flags (issue the correct Bxx instruction) to do whatever. <:)=

-- Sysman (, December 16, 1999.


Yes, it's S370 alright, I never (I'm ashamed to say) got down to the machine code level on the 6502.

The formatting didn't look quite right either, it looked okay when I sent it! I don't think it fair making us enter data in a fixed width font then displaying it using a proportional one, which I had never noticed until just then!

Gotta go, I need to test IEFBR14 for compliance.

Stay well


-- Ron Davis (, December 16, 1999.

To All: Thanks for both informative and entertaining posts. I might look into Liberty Basic more, and if Clarion really shows me something (and it better, for $700+) I might give it a go. But it looks like probably I'll end up continuing to use VB for personal also. (Sigh)

I have this bookmarked, so as far as I'm concerned, this is not a dead thread; I'll check back at least every other day or so.

-- vbProg (, December 16, 1999.

I ordered, but still haven't got the "demo" disk from Clarion.

I looked into Liberty Basic. It's not quite "ready for prime time".

(Just because I'm looking for a personal programming language doesn't mean I want a "toy" language. I want one with the important features of a good language, but is less time consuming to program and debug to get a working app. That means I will consider other than the trendy languages "du jour".)

As to Liberty Basic (LB), the lacks include:
1) No functions (UDF) with parameters and local variables. This is to be included in version 2.xx, but when that will come out, I don't know.
2) No requirement or option to declare and strongly type variables and check for undeclared variables (misspellings or outright undeclared).

A good feature of LB is that windows/screens and controls are defined in code, not hidden in property sheets like in Access. (VB is better than Access in that controls/properties are in code modules that you can actually search and edit.)

It has most if not all the controls you ordinarily need, command buttions, list boxes, combo boxes -- and it seems like it would be easier to fill them with contents from arrays, as opposed to Access.

A utility is included that makes it easy to define and locate (point, drag, click) controls all over your forms.

I've looked at Java and JavaScript very briefly, and I have a question -- are these just other names for "C"? :-)

-- vbProg (, December 23, 1999.

Howdy VB,

Wasn't sure of what you would think of LB. I just tossed it out as an easier-to-use alternative. I haven't done all that much with it, all considered. I'ld rather spend most of my time with my old friend, assembly, but I am also being forced into the world of windows and the web these days. I hope to do serious Windows GUI programming in assembly some day, but don't know enough about the internals yet. I have a couple of good samples, and am close to seeing the whole picture, but I'm not quite there yet. You know us assembly freaks, we've got to reinvent the wheel. I'm really using things like the visual studio languages as a learning tool. I made my choice a long time ago. I love assembly, any kind. Yea, I know, I'm crazy...

Yup, Java is a close relative of C. If you already have some feel for C, Java should be almost easy. But it takes a while, to start from scratch. Another plus for Java is that it's close to the web, and it's technology. Very cool way to go, IMHO. I just wish they'ld get it "stable" and stop changing the specs! But being a VB guy, you should know what that's like.... <:)=

-- Sysman (, December 23, 1999.

Sysman -- Even though I probably won't be using LB -- unless they get the version 2.0 with the functions out, sometime soon -- I still appreciate the lead. What I'm looking for doesn't have to be a "top ten" language. LB does look interesting -- maybe in time...

Assembly -- I used to have a programmable TI-59 calculator (the one with the little magnetic strips you could store data and programs on). Does that count? :-)

I did a couple of programs in "C" mamy years ago, but didn't get into the "++" part (which I don't even now remember what distinguished the "C++" from "C"). Even then, I was ABM (Anyone But Microsoft), as I preferred Borland's version. So I could probably do JAVA. I found "C" to be more time consuming to get the same results as even Microsoft's "Professional Basic" (a super "QuickBasic") for DOS stuff. Then I went off into the dbase world (Foxbase, then Clippper). I (also?) had to be dragged screaming and kicking into Billy-boy's Windows lair.

-- vbProg (, December 23, 1999.

I checked out JavaScript (not Java itself). Doesn't look like JavaScript lends itself to data file manipulations. I've analyzed a page that does some things similar to what I do, but it looks like the company that puts up the page edits appropriate lines to make data hardcoded in the arrays. Looks like they do this continuously with another program (could be in anything, C, VB ..) that can do data access, massage it, then simple text search and replace on a text file. Then they slap that page into the appropriate location on the server so that someone like me gets a page with updated hard coded data each time I reload (refresh). The clue is that the time they display at the top of the page changes each time, yet when you view the source, you see it hardcoded -- not a time() or now() or whatever function. Ditto numeric data in arrays in the top of the script block. I could do that, but is more hassle than I want, for my purposes. And Java itself looks like a learning curve same as "C".

-- vbProg (, December 26, 1999.

I guess this thread is so "yesterday". :o)

-- vbProg (, December 27, 1999.

After reading Infomagic's latest, maybe I should just forget it?

-- vbProg (, December 28, 1999.

Well, we're still here and still in Microsucks world (I spent several hours last night trying to figure out something in that piece of genius they call the Registry. Ended up reinstalling -- plus all the patches. Roobot after each one. Yeah, baby.)

Anyway, still looking for viable programming alternatives to Microsucks VB/Access for PERSONAL use.

Note: In personal use, one is not getting paid by the hour -- so the language has to be real RAD, easy to modest learning curve, and a refresher course not required after a month away.

But it should have decent file handling capabilities, allow for UDFs with independent variables, and parameters and return values. And graphic (chart) capabilities or libraries available at a reasonable price.

DOESN'T need to be useful on a network or internet.

If nothing satisifies the above criteria, we have made no progress in the 15 or 20 years since GW Basic.

-- vbProg (, January 06, 2000.

Trying again -- to the top

-- vbProg (, January 06, 2000.

Otra vez

-- vbProg (, January 07, 2000.

Cross Clarion off -- I requested twice their demo CD and they haven't sent it. If they didn't charge a small fortune for their program I might have been a little more persistent. But, as it is, farkle 'em.

Back in the early 1990s, there was a language called something like "Magic". There were database development contests sponsored by one of the magazines where teams would gather in a big space for the contest. Each group would bring their own software and hardware and any aids and utilities. Then the contest organizer would give them all the same "problem" -- specs for an application. They had a couple of days to do the thing, then the bell rang. Teams were judged on how much functionality they had achieved, accuracy, etc. "Magic" teams came in well, and winning sometimes, as my sometimes faulty memory recalls. Does anyone recall this language and its name/company? Is it still alive?

-- vbProg (, February 04, 2000.


Interesting thread. I didn't notice it before. Let me start at the beginning and move forward. Sysman and I agree that what I call Assembler language and HE calls Assembly language are definitely first loves. It took me FOREVER to see languages like COBOL as anything but VERBOSE after spending a long time coding in assembler.

However, life moves on. VB is fun. ACCESS is CERTAINLY fun, and I use it quite a bit for my own online personal needs. For E-commerce, the debate rages on whether one needs Java, C++ or whether knowledge of COBOL will suffice now that software has been developed that supports E-commerce using COBOL. Both C++ and COBOL have been considered obsolete technologies by some, yet have seen a resurgence of growth recently.

The fourth-generation language to which you refer in your latest post is Magec. You can read more about it here

It's really more useful in old mainframe environments where they wanted a COBOL-type solution in an online (CICS) environment worked faster than a typical online CICS COBOL programmer could provide. From what I've seen in contracting for 10 years, it has a VERY small market share. I know exactly 1(one) contractor who was able to learn Magec and then move on to another client. HE studied under one of the Magec developers...a woman named excessive smoker. [I mention this only because on occasion we thought she'd die on the spot once she started coughing.]

I see Magec much in the way I see EZTRIEVE and COBOL/XE. BOTH were developed to fill a gap in the knowledge framework of programmers in the marketplace. BOTH were easy to learn. EZTRIEVE could more easily produce a quick batch report than COBOL, but don't ask it to do MORE than that, or you lose control and it takes over giving QUITE unpredictable results on occasion. COBOL/XE was developed to turn batch COBOL programmers into CICS programmers automagically.

ANY time you give control to a fourth generation language, you've lost control. I remember once using the COBOL/XE debugger to see the results produced. I even called the systems' programmer over to see. I can't remember now the exact problem, but it was STRIKING how the 4th generation language ASSUMED something that was definitely NOT true.

If your concern is immediate placement, check out some of the offerings on the web...The Computer Job Store, DICE, etc. If your concern is more towards TRENDS, watch closely the Technology area of the web.

-- Anita (, February 04, 2000.


Thanks for the link to Magec, I'll check it out shortly. I'm not really looking for another gig at the moment. If so, I'll look for something in ACCESS.

My main interest is in something TRULY RAD for my own personal use without regard to whether I can get a job with it. Truly RAD to me means a learning curve to a workable real-life app devoting only part-time to it -- and that doesn't have so many little esoteric quirks that you have to devote full-time to it just to remember them all.

VB used to be like that. Now, as I said above -- it has become a monster. Now, ACCESS for simple stuff is OK -- but if you have to get into the code for file operations it gets esoteric real quick -- like what a snapshot can do vs something else. Seeks work here but not there, so you got to use a Find, etc.

And since it's for my personal use, I don't want to pay $700 like for Clarion.

If Liberty Basic (mentioned above) just had a few more things, it might be OK, and the price is right. (Main lack is isolated functions with parameter passing and function return values -- that is to be in v2.0, available "Real Soon Now", but still in alpha, I gather.) Just has subroutines with variables visible throughout. Supposedly scope declarations will be in v2.0 also. A few more lacks are data file handling of text files (e.g, comma delimited, no .DBF), primitive graphics for chart drawing, and lack of variable typing and related (no "Option Explicit" function).

-- vbProg (, February 04, 2000.


If you haven't asked your question yet on the MSNBC Technology Forum, you may get more input there Like anywhere else, folks there have strong opinions on what software/hardware products they prefer, but the board is heavily populated by folks in the technology field. That forum was my daily "internet fix" before about six of us decided to branch off and explore Y2k in more detail.

For anyone interested in that problem with COBOL/XE, I remembered what went wrong. [Funny how these things come back when least expected.] An online (CICS) program was taking an incorrect branch. The branch was determined by the value of a field. The value of the field in question had just been modified in the instruction before the branch using a move. The value being moved was a constant, so it was unexplainable why the target field could contain anything BUT the appropriate value. The move instruction, however, had TWO target fields [perfectly acceptable in both COBOL and COBOL/XE]. It looked something like:

Move '1' to fielda fieldb.

Using the debugger, I could see the contents of both fielda and fieldb before and after the move. Fielda was modified after the move, but fieldb was NOT. I wonder now if anyone thought to notify the COBOL/XE vendor of the bug.

-- Anita (, February 05, 2000.

Anita: I know nothing about COBOL, but it seems to me (paranoid as I am about multiple assignments on one line in ANY language, and for clarity), I would have done it
Move '1' to fielda
Move '1' to fieldb

-- vbProg (, February 05, 2000.


I didn't write the code I was debugging. I agree that two moves would have been more prudent and straight-forward. I'm sure Sysman would agree that once one gets down to the assembler produced by the COBOL compiler one would see that either way TWO MVI instructions were produced or in THIS case NOT produced.

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), February 05, 2000.

I checked out the Magec Site. Doesn't look like it's for me.
I posted on the msnbc forum the question very similar to that opening of this thread. Thanks.

-- vbProg (vbProg@MS&, February 05, 2000.


Yes, a "smart" or optimizing compiler would produce:

mvi fielda,c'1'

But the average run-of-the-mill compiler would probably produce:

mvc fielda,=c'1'


Are you still poking around here, looking for something to do (big grin)?

Maybe it's time to write your own language.

This is no joke. All languages came from somewhere, and most were designed by people that needed a "better way" to do something. If you can't FIND something that you like, why not MAKE something that you do?

It really isn't as bad as it sounds. I've been involved in the development of 2 "languages." In my case, the Macro feature of the mainframe assembler was used to "model" the language. Once it was "stable" the compiler was written to read the "macro source" and produce the object code. Yes, at first, the compiler does the same job as the assembler. But once you have the source for the compiler, you can control the source for the "new" language, and do things that the macro assembler can't.

You have to understand that the macro features on the mainframe are much more powerful than what you'll find in MASM or any other PC assembler that I've seen. You can do things like look at the TYPE of an operand, or look at each character of a parameter, or pass information between macros using GLOBAL symbols and arrays. It really is a very powerful tool.

I understand that Micro Focus now offers these same features in it's macro processor. I further understand that it isn't limited to generating only assembly code, but will generate code for any language, including one that you design. I haven't had a need to use the product yet, but if I were going to develope a language on the PC, it would be one of the first tools that I would take a very hard look at.

Yes, it is alot of work to "design" a language. And it's even more work to write it. You have to write all that code for MOVE, all that code for IF, all that code for EVERY verb that you want in your language. You have to deal with different types of operands. So many details.

But man, talk about a fun time! <:)=

-- Sysman (, February 05, 2000.

Yes, it is alot of work to "design" a language. And it's even more work to write it. You have to write all that code for MOVE, all that code for IF, all that code for EVERY verb that you want in your language. You have to deal with different types of operands. So many details.

But man, talk about a fun time! <:)=

Yes, that is a lot of fun. I've done it several times, and my latest language is being used as the scripting language for a commercial product. I just had to add some new functionality to it today, and fixed a bug that had been in it for a long time but never had shown itself (no, it wasn't Y2K related). I'd like to get someone else to work on it besides myself, though; I'm sure he or she could come up with some suggestions for improvements, as well as serving as a backup in case I'm unavailable for some reason.

-- Steve Heller (, February 05, 2000.

Hello Sysman:
Nostalgia time: The first and last time I ever got anywhere near to assembly was a TI-59 (Texas Instruments) programmable calculator in the late 1970s. :o) That had commands like, as I recall STO (store), RCL(recall), some sort of branching tests, GOTO (go to a location), and a few others. HP also had something similar. And there was EXTERNAL STORAGE -- little magnetic strips that ran through a reader/writer built into the calculator. That was my introduction to programming and was fun. But that was twenty years ago and I was already in my 40s. Now I'm tired and semi-retired; I want something easy to use that SOMEONE else has already done.

I'm looking for something so that I can do stuff that MetaStock (a charting program for commodity/stock traders) can't do. MetaStock is a canned application with a lot of flexibility. But there's always something one wants to do that -- as you say -- an off-the-shelf app or language can't do.

The way it's looking, I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and use VB/Access, but may have to write my own charting routines unless I can find something more to my tastes than what Microsucks provides. Sigh.

-- vbProg (vbProg@MS&IntelSuck.bigtime), February 06, 2000.

Howdy vb,

Well, I understand a little better now. I don't know how much I can help. It almost sounds like all you need is an "add-on" for VB, to be happy. Just keep checking things out I guess.

Dr. Schenker just e-mailed me a pretty good story, about "doing" a "custom" language. You should ask him for a copy! See this thread:

OT-Sysman's Predictions

Good luck vb. <:)=

-- Sysman (, February 07, 2000.


Charting routines, eh? What type of charts would you like to produce? After seeing the responses here and on MSNBC, and thinking about this more, why don't you look into PC COBOL variations? There are tons from which to choose, and some are even free! Microfocus is perhaps the most expensive, CA's Realia more realistic, and like ACU-COBOL now includes a GUI. COBOL is quite easy to learn, and RARELY changes dramatically.

Going down memory lane, I remember being a Fortran programmer with little work at the company in Fortran. I left for a 2-week fishing vacation and on my way out the door my boss gave me an IBM PI course [self-instruction in COBOL] and said, "Make sure you know COBOL when you return." I did.

You may want to look at all the variations available on PC COBOL Variations on COBOL available

I don't know if any free internet courses were mentioned there, but you should be able to find some tutorials or examples that will give you enough information to determine if you're interested. Object- oriented COBOL is (of course) quite popular now.

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), February 07, 2000.

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