Monday, 30 March 2009

QL SuperBASIC the Definitive Handbook

A copy of Jan Jones book has just gone for £21-00 on ebay. I think Quanta used to sell their reprints for around £10-00.

Sunday, 29 March 2009


Something about software as promised. QBasic is a thing designed to be used with QD to parse, QSAVE and liberate the SBASIC file being edited in QD. If this is gibberish I guess you don't use a QL in any form. Have a look at Dilwyn Jones site. Just type Dilwyn Jones and QL into Google and click on I'm feeling lucky. I promise nothing bad will happen to you or your PC.

SBASIC is the basic language for modern QL systems but can also be retro fitted to older systems which have SuperBasic built in. SBASIC and SuperBasic are probably some of the most important bits of software for QL systems and one of the reasons the QL has not passed on to QL Heaven. Both are powerful enough to allow the development of major applications such as Turbo, the Editor, Launchpad and Liberator. As such they continue to be an educational tool in programming and a source of new development for QL systems. Enough background.

QBASIC does what it says on the box and I now can't do without it. I find this amazing because what it says it does does not seem that interesting. After all you can compile with Qliberator quite easily without QBasic. But adding the luxury of a seamless IDE which then reduces development time considerably makes the feel of the process completely different.

One or 2 quirks with QBasic. The parser is not as smart as the SBasic parser. It does not spot incorrect line numbering, so that if when editing a program, copying and pasting lines you end up with 2 line numbers the same, QBasic and Qliberator will hang but not crash. You can remove line numbers but that makes data statements difficult. If the basic file contains a corrupt character, that is a non printable character, QBASIC will refuse to compile. Fair enough, but other than halting it gives no indication of what has gone wrong. The only way to find out quickly is to load the file into the SBasic editor which quickly locates the line or lines with a MISTake marker.

Setting it up is easy, just configure it using menu config and LRESPR it in the boot. Then either hot key a startup command string for QD to tell it to use QBASIC or launch it through Launchpad which will also pass a command string. I prefer Launchpad as I can have 2 icons one for QD with QBASIC and one for QD with SBasic yet the same QD program file but each QD configured through the command line for the job in hand. Neat

Hot keys now there is something that is significantly complex and powerful on QL systems.

Thought for the day. Is it possible to put a program to sleep on a hotkey but without creating a button in the button frame, or anywhere else. Off to the EE (extended environment) manual.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

First Post

This blog is for the Sinclair QL. If you are wondering, "What is that?" Its a retro computer 25 years old this year which means it should be in heaven by now. Except that for the sins of its supporters it isn't. For more factual information have a look at its Wikipedia page or Dilwyn Jones QL site. This blog will not describe what a QL is. It is going to provide a narrow perspective from which to glimpse into the secretive world of the existing QL community and its world spanning network.

There is trouble in QL heaven again. In fact it looks like a vision of QL hell again. The last issue of QL today contained some disturbing stories. One from the editor was about a radical plan for Quanta and the other on the back page about long standing money trouble between 2 major traders and QL supporters. Not that there can be much trading in QL heaven these days.

There is actually quite a bit of trading of QL stuff on ebay these days. Original Sinclair QLs are going for between £16 and £110 depending on condition. There are quite a few books for sale there as well. I noticed this morning a Quanta reprint of Jan Jones Superbasic Handbook going for £14+ with 2 days of auction yet to go. I think Quanta were selling it for £10 just a year or 2 ago.

Thats all for today. Next blog from QL heaven I hope to say something about QL software. Not about how to print from abacus & quill. Everything that needed to be said about that has been said over the last 25 years. Something more interesting.