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A PowerBasic Roadmap - Continued Again !

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  • A PowerBasic Roadmap - Continued Again !

    What a discussion !

    It is definitely worth continuing !

    Some very good comments have been made so far and I am sure
    Powerbasic is listening.

    To summarize some of the highlites :

    (1) The compiler must always be able to build fast, small apps !

    (2) The consensus seems to be :
    Keep making the CORE compiler better
    and then
    Let the Third Party developers add all the bells and whistles !

    (3) Static Libraries are a must !

    (4) If it can be done without Bloating the compiler, then add
    COM and OOP support !

    (5) Rather than add RAD features, simply add the necessary "tools"
    for Third Party developers to easily Integrate RAD features
    to the compiler.

    Now, my 2 cents worth !

    I agree with all of the above and especially would I like to see
    more tools for adding RAD features. I think my suggestion
    about adding a Wizard specification for the IDE, would be a great
    start. What I want to see, is the Third Party tools being able to
    seemlessly "Integrate" into the PB IDE, rather than simply be
    "clunky" external applications.

    If PowerBasic simply added just two features, Static Libraries
    and a Wizards Specification the compiler would jump ahead
    by lightyears. Third party developers are already designing some
    great tools. WinLift as an example, is lightyears ahead of
    anything VB programmers can do. Imagine if WinLift had its own
    Wizards attached to the PB IDE, so it could generate custom code
    for you, so you could get up to speed "quickly" in using a
    Static Library version of WinLift.

    Visual Designers could be implimented as Wizards and rather than
    be stuck with a "single" Visual Designer, you could have dozens of
    different Visual Designers especially designed for specific tasks
    or even styles of programming.

    If PowerBasic released PB 7.0 today with just Static Libraries and
    a Wizard specification (so we can create Wizards for the IDE), likely
    within a month or so, you would see a "flood" of all sorts of
    Third Party Libraries and accompanying Wizards for PB. I am sure
    there would be a number of Freeware Wizards and Libraries within
    days of PBs release.

    The core goal achieved by Static Libraries and a Wizard specification
    (open source public domain format) is :

    Rapid Application Development (RAD) and code Reusability !

    With such tools, the PowerBasic compiler would not only produce
    fast executing apps, but also you will be able to write those apps

    This would definitely give PB a competitive edge.

    Chris Boss
    Computer Workshop
    Developer of "EZGUI"

  • #2
    The title of this extended thread is a little ironic...

    Some people have it backwards. They are asking for a roadmap, but I think that threads like this one are the PowerBasic Roadmap. PowerBASIC isn't going to tell us what the specific destinations are ahead of time because, as Dave pointed out, if they don't reach one of them, people will be disappointed.

    But Daaaaaad, you said we were going to Disneyland *and* Epcot Center!

    If they were to pre-announce specific features, that wouldn't do anybody any good unless a target date was announced too, right?

    Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

    And if a deadline slips?

    But Daaaad, you said we'd be there by lunchtime!

    I doubt that PowerBASIC, Inc. is going to change its long-standing policy of not pre-announcing products any time soon. They may choose to make exceptions to their own policy, but I suspect that that will be rare and the policy itself won't change.

    What PowerBASIC does do is provide this forum, so that we can tell them where we want to go! If more people "vote" for Epcot than Disneyland, that will probably have an impact on the direction they drive.

    I feel compelled to say this...

    IMO, anybody that makes critical business plans based on what another company -- PowerBASIC or Microsoft or anybody else -- says they are going to do, is making a very serious mistake. I am one of PowerBASIC's biggest fans, but I think you'd have to be crazy to go out on a limb and make development plans today based on the availability of (for example) PB for Linux. PB may announce its availability tomorrow. They may announce its availability a year from today. Or they may plan to announce its availability tomorrow, only to have a beta tester raise an issue that takes a year to resolve. If they announced the product before it was ready to ship and people made critical business plans to use the product, PB would have two choices: 1) to release a product with known flaws, or 2) to delay the release. Either one of those would make people angry, and potentially put their business plans at risk.

    (As a side note, Microsoft doesn't hesitate to do either of those things, and everybody hates them for it.)

    All that being said, I'd like to reiterate that threads like this one are the PowerBASIC Roadmap. Keep it up! Tell PB, Inc. what is important to you! If it's really important to you, keep bringing it up! Explain why your favorite idea is desirable or necessary, and what it would allow people to to, and convince other people that your ideas are sound! Follow Chris' example and don't just say "I think PB needs Static Libraries", explain why you want them, and what they would allow other people to do!

    PowerBASIC not only provides this forum, but they listen to what is said here.

    -- Eric

    Perfect Sync: Perfect Sync Development Tools
    Email: mailto:[email protected][email protected]</A>

    [This message has been edited by Eric Pearson (edited September 15, 2000).]
    "Not my circus, not my monkeys."


    • #3
      Eric, you presented a good view of the PowerBASIC take on this.
      However, what you (and apparently PowerBASIC) apparently fail to realize
      is that decisions are being made every day based upon what tools are:
      (1) available
      (2) on the way...

      Being totally in the dark about what is coming with the next update/upgrade
      to PowerBASIC gives a pro-PowerBASIC developer little if anything to stand
      on when tip-toeing through the quicksand of multi-tier development requirements.

      How my twisted mind sees the policy
      Bowing Press Release:
      Attention all Bowing Customers, we are building a new big metal thing.
      Call now to place your order. Details available when it ships



      • #4
        Ron --

        > you presented a good view of the PowerBASIC take on this.

        Actually, I presented my own personal take on this. My own company attempts to follow the same guidelines, and we have for the last 14 years. A recent (and pertinent) mis-step was my mentioning (in another thread) our upcoming DCAL product... which has been temporarily shelved in favor of more urgent priorities. It's all ready to go, except for the docs, but our efforts are focused elsewhere right now. I really wish I'd kept my mouth shut.

        > decisions are being made every day based upon what tools are:
        > (1) available
        > (2) on the way...

        I do understand that. But I believe that "no information" is better than "possibly inaccurate information". If you make your plans based on somebody else's plans, and your customers base their plans on yours, the whole thing falls apart if somebody stumbles.

        I guess I have the luxury of being able to depend on existing tools, and making my plans based on what I know I can do. At the current time I do not have any plans that are based on things that do not yet exist. I realize that many people have different pressures on them, but I believe that the practice of pre-announcing product encourages that pressure, and IMO that is not a good thing.

        -- Eric

        Perfect Sync: Perfect Sync Development Tools
        Email: mailto:[email protected][email protected]</A>

        [This message has been edited by Eric Pearson (edited September 15, 2000).]
        "Not my circus, not my monkeys."


        • #5
          Originally posted by Ron Pierce:
          Eric, you presented a good view of the PowerBASIC take on this.
          However, what you (and apparently PowerBASIC) apparently fail to realize
          is that decisions are being made every day based upon what tools are:
          (1) available
          (2) on the way...

          I disagree with this. If I told my boss that in a couple months
          that PowerBasic should release a linux compiler or support COM.
          He will ask me 1 month later (boss's assume a couple months is
          a few weeks) anyways, when I then tell him again, that its going
          to be a couple months he will be disappointed. Not at powerbasic
          but at me personally, because I fed him the information.

          Personally, I know powerbasic will make a great product, but what
          I will count on is what is available now. Meaning either
          PowerBasic or VC++ or VB. If my boss says that he wants to make
          a program with COM support next month. I won't hesitate to
          make it with VB and make the .DLL's in PowerBasic.

          Powerbasic is way ahead of its time. I could care less about
          execution speed as much as I care about:

          1) Size
          2) Ease of distribution
          3) Peace of Mind knowing that if it runs on 1 computer it should
          run 99.9% of the time on all computers. With any other language
          such as VB, I can never assume that. I always fear tech calls.

          Just my Opinion though.

          [email protected]


          • #6
            I think the discussion about Powerbasic telling us more
            is simply "mute". There policy seems to be in stone and
            all the "please, please, pleases" in the world aren't
            likely to change that.

            A more "reasonable" and possibly doable suggestion is maybe :

            Offer more periodic upgrades !

            Rather than "wait" until PB 7.0 is ready (maybe a year or more),
            why not make available a "minor" upgrade, (PB 6.5) which has
            any new features that are "in stone" and well tested already.
            At the minimum we benefit from bug fixes (or fixed quirks) and
            we may possibly benefit from a few new valuable features.

            Sometimes minor releases can benefit R&D since you may consider
            a possible direction to go in, which requires adding features
            in a couple "steps". The early steps, may offer some new
            functionality which is useful and if you release a minor upgrade
            with say the first step in a direction, them you will get valuable
            feedback from users on how they like the direction. The feedback
            may encourage you to either "not advance to step 2" or
            "add steps 2, 3 ,4" because a valuable new direction can now be

            I good example of this is the Wizard concept I suggested. The
            entire concept could be implimented in a few days (with a good
            programmer) and is simple. If such a feature was added (with little
            time lost on R&D) and a minor upgrade was released, and nobody
            wrote Wizards for it, then you learn something from the experience.
            But what if you released a minor version with such a feature and
            say within a month of its release, dozens (if not more) freeware
            and commcercial Wizards were created by others and the response
            was overwhelming ? Wouldn't that indicate a worthwhile "new direction"
            to go in ?

            Also, if a new feature such as Wizards was added, it could create
            "new" markets for PowerBasic, in selling Addons for there own

            The only purpose "telling us whats in store" serves, is to help
            keep customers patient and to help keep them customers, since they
            won't "jump ship" if a feature they really need is "forthcoming".

            Periodic "minor" upgrades, (say at least 2 a year) would satisfy some
            of those cravings and there would be less of a need for
            "telling us what is forthcoming". Usually when we get an upgrade
            it satisfies us for at least a few months and likely we won't
            even ask whats next, since we are too busy "playing" with the new
            stuff we just got.

            Rather than try to make PowerBasic change its policy, why not
            encourage them to "meet us in the middle" a little bit. Rather
            than throw us an imaginary bone we can dream about, why not throw
            us a real "small bone" we can chew on !

            Chris Boss
            Computer Workshop
            Developer of "EZGUI"


            • #7
              We do make "minor upgrades" available on occasion. We call them "updates" to distinguish them from more major releases ("upgrades"). The minor releases, or "updates", are typically not going to have any major new features. Then again, they're often free of charge to owners of previous versions of the same major release.

              In my experience, telling people "what's in store" does exactly the opposite of making them more patient! I am personally delighted at PowerBASIC's no-vaporware policy. I've worked for many companies that did otherwise and I've known the horrors that causes.

              Tom Hanlin
              PowerBASIC Staff


              • #8
                You people need to understand what vapourware is as well as what it isn't.
                Announcing the features which are definitely part of a forthcoming release
                is by no means a vapourware proclamation.

                Here's an example of vaporware:
                1. And the winner is ... First promised in 1997. Delayed until mid-1998. Rescheduled until
                sometime in 1999. And now, definitively, set to ship on 17 February, 2000. The winner, and
                returning champion, is Microsoft's Windows 2000.

                What can we say? Its tortured history speaks for itself. Readers tend to agree -- most didn't
                even bother to add comments to Win2K nominations.

                "The ultimate in vaporware," said Larry Herbison.

                "I don't believe anything that MS says about release dates anymore," sniffed Daniel Scheffler.

                Some contributors even suggested Microsoft deliberately delayed Win2K because of Y2K.

                "Was it really just them debugging their always-faulty OS or are they just worried about
                January 1st?" quizzed Scott Hiett, cruelly suggesting that Redmond change the name to
                "Windows 1900."



                • #9
                  I think someone made the point in an earlier post that software firms frequently make pre-annoucement information available to their third-party developers - but they make it available on a "non-disclosure" basis.

                  When I managed a VAR firm, we often had advance info from Burroughs (later Unisys) on this basis.

                  We sometimes (rarely, but we did do it) made information available to one or two customers - but we also did this on a non-disclosure basis.

                  Here's a thought: write to PowerBASIC, explain what you want to know, and see what they say. Worst case, they say, "no."

                  Heads, you win; tails, you break even.

                  Michael Mattias
                  Tal Systems (retired)
                  Port Washington WI USA
                  [email protected]


                  • #10
                    I think Eric has hit the nail on the head in a couple of areas very well,
                    PowerBASIC will not change its policy on no vapourware, there is too much
                    to lose by going down this track and nothing to gain, either for the
                    company or for the customers.

                    It is well known that PowerBASIC staff regularly frequent this forum so
                    anything that even vaguely looks like a good idea will get noticed and fed
                    into the right places. The pursuit of the roadmap is in part the pursued

                    What has to be kept in mind is the viability of the suggestions, when
                    someone asks for complete conceptual change from what the products have
                    been, JIT compilers, visual garbage generators, OOP(s), PBlinux for
                    MAC(68000), RAD for Palm Pilot, MIPS aware code optimisation and any other
                    gaseous nonsense you could imagine, the chances of it coming to fruition
                    are very remote.

                    One of the worst kept secrets about PowerBASIC is that it has a rapidly
                    growing programmer base, those programmers who are disaffected by the many
                    shortcomings of what the rest of the market has to offer have continued to
                    come to PowerBASIC looking for the performance that many of the others
                    have lost.

                    This factor alone gives PowerBASIC more capacity to develop a wider range of
                    products over time. They already have compiler performance and this is an
                    area that will only get stronger, I have no doubt that the staff are aware
                    of the virtues of quality visual design tools, extendable capacity in
                    libraries and similar so there is some point in pursuing things like extra
                    compiler capacity to support extended capacity in other areas.

                    It has been common practice for compilers that support libraries to have
                    a standard set of libraries that support a known set of runtime functions.
                    This helps to uniquely identify the language but it leaves room for the
                    very wide range of other areas that are too specialised to be supported
                    in the normal runtime library.

                    Specialised graphics libraries, CAD libraries, specialised maths
                    functions, custom controls, "Zelda's Amazing Astrology Library" and almost
                    anything else you can imagine that can be written in the core capacity of
                    the language. One thing that will be very useful in the development of
                    complete objects in libraries is the existing DDT capacity as resource
                    dependent objects are difficult to do normally in libraries.


                    [email protected]

                    hutch at movsd dot com
                    The MASM Forum - SLL Modules and PB Libraries



                    • #11
                      Great advice Michael! I think the "please tell us more" debate is over.

                      I agree whole-heartedly that what PowerBASIC needs more than anything is *constructive* feedback. Simple saying "*I* want ..." isn't really that helpful without details.

                      And people need to stop telling PowerBASIC how to run their business. YOU (or I) don't know what is best for PowerBASIC, Inc. Some feature that YOU feel is important to YOU may not be important to most PowerBASIC customers. Don't make those assumptions.

                      All of this talk about COM is great and mostly useful. But the **FACT** is that nobody knows the needs of ALL PowerBASIC customers better than PowerBASIC does. They spend a LOT of time and a LOT of money on knowing just those things. If they didn't, we wouldn't have this great forum to converse and we'd all be using Visual Basic or C++ right now.

                      For those of you pushing COM and OOP... I think that most of your arguments on the technical end are *very* valid. And having played more with JazzAge over the past month, I'm finally starting to soften on COM stuff myself. But what I think would REALLY help out Bob & company is more technical details on implementation. How about a discussion on syntax examples? What should PowerBASIC code with OOP support look like? I'd love to see a thread on this.


                      Home of the BASIC Gurus
                      Home of the BASIC Gurus


                      • #12
                        I'd like to jump on Chris's bandwagon for the most part...

                        I think that the ability to create static linkable libraries would definitely bring in more developers to the third-party market. I know that I'd be more willing to let loose with about a half-million lines of useful PowerBASIC source code if I could release it as libraries so people wouldn't see my poorly commented code.

                        But rather than building a "wizard interface" into the IDE, I'd like to see the debugger moved into a DLL so that PowerBASIC can continue to keep critical proprietary information about the RTL to themselves. Then I'd like to see PowerBASIC give "Open Source" a try and open up the source code to the IDE itself.

                        I'd bet dollars to donuts that a number of programmers like Chriss Boss and Patrice Terrier would get a dialog editor built right in to the IDE. And others of us would get other features in that we'd like to see.

                        There can be no argument over how outstanding PowerBASIC's compilers are. There simply isn't anything better. But many of the things we really want in developing our applications, we can do ourselves to the benefit of all PowerBASIC customers.

                        As "Open Source", PowerBASIC Inc. would benefit from the great influx of working code and decide which features would be added to the official release, that would remain in the hands and control of PowerBASIC Inc.

                        I think that's a MUCH better solution that plugins or wizards.


                        Home of the BASIC Gurus
                        Home of the BASIC Gurus


                        • #13
                          We must never compare any vendor with Microsoft. What would happen if Microsoft
                          lost 50% of its customers overnight? A $150 billion company will become a $75 billion
                          company. Big deal . It has enough cash reserves to pay all its programmers for the next
                          10 years. It has invested in a wide range of technologies. It can define the market and
                          the future.

                          For every one of us who moans about Microsoft, hundreds praise it. Thousands spend
                          their life-savings or go into debt to become MCSE’s and MCSD’s only to further
                          champion and promote Microsoft. It is now a self-subsisting eco-system.

                          Conclusion: Microsoft can afford to peddle vaporware. In fact they make money out of
                          it. Charge a “nominal” fee for beta copies (it has happened ) and you can make good
                          money if your installed base is 150+ million.

                          In this business there is no such thing as brand loyalty any more. If Powerbasic EXE
                          gets as much as 1 byte bigger or consumes as much as 1 clock cycle more than the
                          competitor’s EXE or if they ever tell me that I have to distribute runtime DLLs, I will be
                          the first one to leave.

                          None of us have any loyalty. We are the very same people who have abandoned VB,
                          VC++, Delphi etc. and use every opportunity to bad-mouth Microsoft.

                          Remember, Powerbasic is essentially a one-product company. Can Powerbasic afford to
                          lose as little as 10% of its installed base? Will VB programmers really join us in droves?
                          Will C programmers ever take Basic seriously? Will Java loonies ever see the light?

                          No one knows. No one can be certain. It is a gamble and Bob Zale is not the gambling
                          type. He has worked hard to build the best product and a good business around it and
                          there is little chance of anyone ever beating him in this game. Why ruin a good thing and
                          gamble it in a disloyal market full of sharks and charlatans?

                          My advice: steady as she goes. No vaporware. No bloat. Anyone who does not like it
                          can go and Java.



                          [This message has been edited by Siamack Yousofi (edited September 15, 2000).]


                          • #14
                            To pick up on Daves comments;

                            One reason I like the idea of an Open Source Wizard Specification
                            for use with "any" IDE (not just PBs), is that it would allow
                            IDE developers to have automatic access to any and all Wizards
                            without having to share there source code with others (and visa
                            versa). As long as they use the Wizard Specification correctly
                            they can launch any Wizard built to those specs.

                            For example. rather than tie the IDE into a single Visual Designer
                            you could use "any" Visual Designer that is distributed in Wizard
                            format. Imagine a Wizard for getting started in building WinLift apps.

                            I am even willing to convert my Freeware DDT Visual Designer into
                            a Wizard "builder" so anybody could build there own Wizards.

                            Before long, a variety of IDEs (including PBs) will have access
                            to dozens a Wizards.

                            Chris Boss
                            Computer Workshop
                            Developer of "EZGUI"


                            • #15

                              Originally posted by Chris Boss:

                              Before long, a variety of IDEs (including PBs) will have access
                              to dozens a Wizards.
                              You've hit the nail there, Chris!

                              Some people like to use the PB IDE, My IDE, and many different IDE's
                              Not to sound like I have jumped on the bandwagon, but I have been thinking of IDE 'Addins' for some time now, and recent discussions have prompted Third Party developers to do something about it - I can see a solid specification developing within the next month!

                              A side note about PowerBASIC's 'No Vapourware' Policy, I commend it, I fact I have just now stopped announcing what's in the next update to my PowerIDE, due to a deluge of e-mails asking 'Whats next?' over and over and over and over, over over over, and over again!

                              To solve this problem, I have decided to use a 'Mailing List' so subscribers will know whats in the next release - just before its available, just visit my site to subscribe.

                              GO PowerBASIC !!!


                              Kev G Peel
                              KGP Software, Bridgwater, UK.
                     | Slam DBMS | PrpT Control | Other Downloads | Contact Me


                              • #16

                                There seem to be a lot of people "hitting it on the nail" but,
                                Is anybody building anything? (smile)

                                Not that my opinion really matters much in the grand picture but
                                I have found that people tend to do things in waves/cycles. First
                                we start with a simple idea and make it "better" which in turn
                                makes it more complicated and non-user friendly. Soon after that
                                some "brilliant" person suggests the novel idea to make things
                                "simplified" and thus we return to square one.

                                People are funny creatures! forever trying to make things in life
                                simply difficult!