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What is the best version of BASIC for the ST for general purpose questions?

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I've become interested in programming on the ST, and I'm looking for some recommendations as to what is the best general purpose programming version of BASIC that I can use.

 

Also, if there are any recommendations around possible alternatives to BASIC, I'd be happy to hear your opinions.

 

Thanks all.

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I've become interested in programming on the ST, and I'm looking for some recommendations as to what is the best general purpose programming version of BASIC that I can use.

 

Also, if there are any recommendations around possible alternatives to BASIC, I'd be happy to hear your opinions.

 

Thanks all.

I am not really a programmer, but I dislike C (and relatives) and learned to enjoy Niklaus Wirth's languages in school, of which Modula-2 gained the most popularity on the ST (Oxyd e.g. was programmed in Modula-2).

 

Megamax Modula-2 is available for free from Thomas Tempelmann's site.

 

Here in Germany, GFA BASIC was the most successful and thus best supported version of BASIC, but I always admired the more system compliant approach of HiSoft BASIC.

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I would go with GFA Basic; fast, popular, compile-able, re-usable libraries, clean syntax, lots of example code, no line numbers and English documentation. It became popular in the UK too; version 3.5 was even given away with ST Format in June 1992.

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What kind of applications are you interested in programming? If it's games, like platformers, you'll probably have to deal with C and Assembly. Anything else and you might find those others easier to learn and have more success.

Edited by Justin Payne
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Thanks for the suggestions so far, I do have a version of Hisoft and GFA, and I'm keen to look at whatever is well documented, so GFA sounds good. I'm not specifically looking to program games, just to look at utilities and get my head around some simple stuff, utilities maybe.

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GFA would probably be easier and you can also use .RSC files for GEM interfacing, plus there a loads of source code to learn from...

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If you are decided on avoiding C, and are leaning toward a BASIC derivative, GFA BASIC is almost certainly the right call. In addition to those reasons cited by the others, I would mention that this forum enjoys the company of some seriously accomplished GFA programmers. You are certain to get some seriously excellent support for your efforts if you go that way.

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What kind of applications are you interested in programming? If it's games, like platformers, you'll probably have to deal with C and Assembly. Anything else and you might find those others easier to learn and have more success.

 

That is absolutely not true though. Take a look at Roger and r0x, both games written with GFA, GFA has a very good optimizing compiler as LP can attest. By the time the language becomes the bottleneck in your programming, you are going to be doing great things already.

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I'm hitting this thread really late. ;)

 

Even though HiSoft BASIC appears system compliant on the surface, it will break under MiNT and the compile option will be completely borked. At one point I bought HiSoft v2 but that was a deal breaker, I was hooked on multi-tasking, so I went right back to GFA. In all fairness the GFA editor also doesn't do well under MiNT, however there is a patch for the original GFA editor. No doubt GFA has better support.

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Has anyone ever tried LDW Basic? How does that compare to GFA?

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Compiled ST Basic? Sign me up already!

 

...but oh jeez, the licensing fees would drive me bankrupt :P.

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I've become interested in programming on the ST, and I'm looking for some recommendations as to what is the best general purpose programming version of BASIC that I can use.

 

Also, if there are any recommendations around possible alternatives to BASIC, I'd be happy to hear your opinions.

 

Thanks all.

GFA was really popular, but for game programming, seemed that STOS Basic was even more popular.

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What kind of applications are you interested in programming? If it's games, like platformers, you'll probably have to deal with C and Assembly. Anything else and you might find those others easier to learn and have more success.

 

As a language, C really is not that much more difficult to learn than structured basic and the speed benefits are amazing.

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On 12/10/2018 at 2:01 AM, ParanoidLittleMan said:

As usual, what is best is pretty much subjective. But in this case I must agree with majority: GFA Basic. The reason: even myself, hardcore ASM programmer programmed little with it :-D

GFA 3.5 is Fantastic! I have trouble getting it to do some things (blitter, pre-rolled sprites, etc), but as a language, it is FAST and can pretty much do anything. 

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my only gripe with GFA Basic was code formatting,  you couldn't really have blank lines between procedures for readability, you had to at least have a remark.   The editor also didn't indent code.   But my experience was with GFA 2.0,  maybe this was improved in later versions?

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In the latest released versions you still had to insert comment lines to simulate blank lines. At least the editor auto formatted the code for you so you needn't have to worry about it. (However I was under the impression that v2.0 also auto formatted code)

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20 hours ago, ggn said:

In the latest released versions you still had to insert comment lines to simulate blank lines. At least the editor auto formatted the code for you so you needn't have to worry about it. (However I was under the impression that v2.0 also auto formatted code)

You are correct all versions of GFA format the code. Next best thing to a space is the short form of a comment, a single quote (').

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Used some GFA Basic back in the day, eventually started adding some asm routines before jumping ship to C. It's a really good BASIC implementation, and as others have noted, some commercial games were made with it.  Back in the day I did a Dr. Mario clone (#1 on Genie for 8 weeks... woohoo) it was in GFA Basic.

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6 hours ago, poobah said:

Used some GFA Basic back in the day, eventually started adding some asm routines before jumping ship to C. It's a really good BASIC implementation, and as others have noted, some commercial games were made with it.  Back in the day I did a Dr. Mario clone (#1 on Genie for 8 weeks... woohoo) it was in GFA Basic.

Do you still have that? It doesn't ring a bell here!

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GFA did stand out from the other basic by NOT using line number, and having function/procedures. Stos had a dedicated api for game programming, but after practicing GFA, going back to a crude basic was not enjoyable for me. At least I enjoyed a lot the breakout game provided as a demonstration.

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On 8/29/2020 at 3:40 PM, ggn said:

Do you still have that? It doesn't ring a bell here!

Sadly no, I do have a screenshot from an emulator when I ported to java years and years ago, but the original source and such are on a dead hard drive. 😢

 

 

 

drnecro.png

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I've been playing al ot lately with GFA and STOS. The biggest benefit for GFA is incredible speed and a very robust language.  STOS has a lit of additional extensions and tools that make it easy to create optimized games for both the ST and STE.  It's easy to target the blitter and PCM stereo sounds, or just use plain old samples and fast sprites (not STOS sprites, but BOBs). Nit many people used these functional originally and they are mostly created by one or tow great extensions coding individuals and teams. 

I still think GFA can make better overall programs and even games, but the code examples and even documentation for the latest version (3.5) are sparse. 

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