|★ APPLICATIONS ★ PROGRAMMATION ★ Amstrad Exbasic is too roundabout|Popular Computing Weekly) ★|
It goes without saying that although the Amstrad PCW machines have been sold as dedicated word processors, they are capable of far more.
Which makes il rather sad that Amstrad chose to bundle Mallard Basic with the machines. It's not that Mallard Basic is bad. but that it seems to have been designed to do no more than calculate compound interest and other piddling little business programs There are no graphics commands. and various control functions are implemented through torturous Escape sequencies.
A partial remedy has now arrived from a new software company called Nabitchi - not Japanese, as you may assume, but based in Liverpool.
Nabitchi's Exbasic adds 36 new commands to Mallard Basic, covering areas like graphics. cursor control, screen layout and so on.
Some of these are completely new to the Mallard dialect, such as circle, line, paper and ink commands. Others replace the escape sequences. For example. instead of Print Chr$(27); "E"; to clear the screen, you can use Print "iCls.".
The new commands are all preceded by the inverted exclamation mark (Extra-1 on the PCW keyboard) and concluded with the full stop.
10 PRINT “iCIRCLE ", 360, 125,50|
You can, of course, define the new commands as strings (C$ = "iCircle.") and use them that way. but this requires a fairly lengthy definition routine.
The other drawback is that patching the commands into Mallard Basic has made them extremely slow. Because of this Exbasic is totally inadequate for really detailed graphics, or for animation Whether you'll want exbasic depends on how much programming you need to do. If you need a lew basic graphics like bar and line charts, then Exbasic is probably adequate.
Serious programmers will do better with Digital Research's compiled CBasic, or another language altogether, or get to grips with programming the GSX graphics system.
Peter Wortock , Popular Computing Weekly