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dev/basic/aqb.lha

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Short:A BASIC Compiler+IDE for Amiga Computers
Author:guenter.bartsch at gmail.com (Guenter Bartsch)
Uploader:guenter bartsch gmail com (Guenter Bartsch)
Type:dev/basic
Version:0.7.0alpha2
Architecture:m68k-amigaos >= 2.0.4
Date:2021-09-04
Download:http://aminet.net/dev/basic/aqb.lha - View contents
Readme:http://aminet.net/dev/basic/aqb.readme
Downloads:323

== AQB: A BASIC Compiler and IDE for Amiga Computers

image::screenshot.png[]

=== Project Scope

An experiment in alternate history: what AmigaBASIC could have looked like,
had it been developed further tailored to the Amiga OS.

What AQB is not: AQB does not try to be a clone of any particular BASIC
dialect - neither QuickBASIC, FreeBASIC or VisualBASIC nor any particular Amiga
specific BASIC implementation like AmigaBASIC, ACE, HiSoft, GFA, Blitz or AMOS.
While it strives to be as compatible as possible with the Microsoft BASIC
family of languages (and certainly has many QuickBASIC traits) the primary
focus is on the creation of a modern, clean, Amiga OS-compliant, future-proof
BASIC that is tailored towards modern Amiga application development.

To be more specific, FreeBASIC is the source of many core AQB language
constructs (in many respects AQB can be considered a subset of FreeBASIC) with
inspiration for Amiga specific commands mainly from AmigaBASIC, ACE and HiSoft.
Main target is Amiga OS compliant application development.

Improvements over AmigaBASIC include:

* Advanced type system (including UDTs and Pointers, see below)
* Support for non-static functions and subs (enables recursion)
* Module support (similar to UNITs in TurboPascal, with full type safety and
  dependencies) * Modern syntax inspired by FreeBASIC and VisualBASIC
* True native 68k compiler
* Integrated IDE besides compiler command line interface with
    * syntax highlighting
    * auto-indent
    * folding support

=== Requirements

* 3 MB RAM
* OS 2.0 (V36) or newer

=== Installation

Right now no installation is required. Just download a release LHA archive
(https://github.com/gooofy/aqb/releases) and unpack it wherever you like, but
keep the directory structure intact.

=== Type System

==== Basic types:
* Byte, UByte (8 bits)
* Integer, UInteger (16 bits)
* Long, ULong (32 bits)
* Single (32 Bit FFP floats)

==== Advanced types

* Static (C-like, fast) and dynamic (runtime bounds checking) arrays
* UDTs (structs)
* OOP (FreeBASIC like)
* Pointers (C-like, including function/sub pointers)
* Strings (0-terminated pointers to UByte, C-compatible)

=== Module System and Runtime

AQB tries to keep the set of commands that are built into the compiler to a
minimum and relies on its quite powerful module system to provide most of the
commands as part of the runtime system. This means that while the default
runtime strives to implement a modern QuickBASIC like dialect tailored to the
Amiga, it is quite possible to implement alternative runtime modules that could
provide AQB with a different "personality", e.g. one that is closer to
AmigaBASIC or GFA BASIC or even languages like BlitzBasic ot AMOS.

The goal for AQB's default runtime is to provide a rich set of commands
covering typical Amiga OS programming topics like GUI programming,
multitasking, graphics and audio combined with resource tracking and
error/exception handling. Future plans might also include an automated garbage
collector to make memory allocation easier and safer.

AQB is fully link-compatible with the Amiga 68k GCC compiler which means that
AQB modules can be implemented in C as well as BASIC (one could even
mix these languages within one module, i.e. implement some subprograms in
C while others in BASIC).

==== Intuition / Exec event handling

Since the default runtime wants to enable OS friendly programming no busy
waiting is used. Therefore the SLEEP command is used to process pending events,
i.e. you will need to call SLEEP regularly in your program, typically form a
main loop that could look like this:

    WHILE running
        SLEEP
    WEND

For event processing you register subroutines using the ON ... CALL <function>
family of statements, e.g.

    ON WINDOW CALL myWindowHandler

see https://github.com/gooofy/aqb/blob/master/examples/demo/gfx1.bas for a
simple example of this approach.

Interesting detail: since AQB supports C-like function pointers, the ON ...
CALL family of statements is not built into the compiler but part of the _aqb
runtime:

    PUBLIC DECLARE SUB ON WINDOW CALL (BYVAL p AS SUB)

=== Code Generation and Target Systems

At the time of this writing classic 68k Amiga systems is the only compiler
target. The idea is to focus on one target and try to make AQB work really well
on this platform before expanding to other systems. The AQB compiler is
implemented from scratch in C based on Appel's 1997 book "Modern Compiler
Implementation in C" and tries to keep system requirements (RAM and CPU) low
while still producing somewhat sensible machine code. Originally the AQB code
was based on ComMouses's tiger compiler implementation
(https://github.com/ComMouse/tiger-compiler) which provided a very useful
starting point.

For future expansions to other platforms the current plan is to use an LLVM
based backend for all platforms powerful enough to run LLVM which is probably
true for most NG Amiga systems (AROS, AmigaOS 4 and MorphOS) and most likely
also for highly expanded classic Amiga systems (using accelerator cards
such as PiStom or Vampire).

As for the 68k compiler future plans include further reduction of its memory
footprint ideally to a point where it is useful on 1MB or even 512K Amiga
systems. At that point it might even make sense to implement a 6502 backend
targeting modern 8 bit systems like the MEGA65, Commander X16 or C256 Foenix.

=== Amiga OS System Programming in AQB

AQB datatypes are very similar to C (C-like strings, structs and pointers)
which makes usage of Amiga OS libraries and devices pretty seamless.

Data structures generally can be modeled 1:1 from their C counterparts, a
python script semi-automating the task of converting Amiga C library and device
headers to AQB is in the works. Here is a preview of what the resulting AQB
declarations typically look like:

    [...]

    TYPE ViewPort
        AS ViewPort PTR NextViewPort
        AS ColorMap PTR ColorMap
        AS CopList PTR DspIns, SprIns, ClrIns
        AS UCopList PTR UCopIns
        AS INTEGER DWidth, DHeight, DxOffset, DyOffset
        AS UINTEGER Modes
        AS UBYTE SpritePriorities, ExtendedModes
        AS RasInfo PTR RasInfo
    END TYPE

    TYPE Layer_Info
        AS Layer PTR top_layer, check_lp
        AS ClipRect PTR obs, FreeClipRects
        AS LONG PrivateReserve1, PrivateReserve2
        AS SignalSemaphore Lock
        AS MinList gs_Head
        AS INTEGER PrivateReserve3
        AS VOID PTR PrivateReserve4
        AS UINTEGER Flags
        AS BYTE fatten_count, LockLayersCount
        AS INTEGER PrivateReserve5
        AS VOID PTR BlankHook, LayerInfo_extra
    END TYPE

    EXTERN GfxBase AS VOID PTR

    DECLARE SUB Move (rp AS RastPort PTR, x AS INTEGER, y AS INTEGER) LIB -240
GfxBase (a1, d0, d1)
    DECLARE SUB RectFill (rp AS RastPort PTR, xmin AS INTEGER, ymin AS INTEGER,
xmax AS INTEGER, ymax AS INTEGER) LIB -306 GfxBase (a1, d0, d1, d2, d3)
    DECLARE SUB Draw (rp AS RastPort PTR, x AS INTEGER, y AS INTEGER) LIB -246
GfxBase (a1, d0, d1)
    DECLARE SUB SetAPen (rp AS RastPort PTR, pen AS INTEGER) LIB -342 GfxBase
(a1, d0)

    [...]

=== Benchmark Results

Measured on an A500 configuration (PAL 68000, 3MB RAM) in FS-UAE, Kickstart 1.3

|===
| Benchmark            | AmigaBasic    | GFA Basic 3.52 | BlitzBasic 2.15 |
HiSoft Basic 2 | AQB

| ctHLBench integer    | 33.94s        | 7.40s          | 6.96s           |
12.41s         | 1.66s
| ctHLBench real       | 23.90s        | 6.88s          | 4.99s           |
4.46s          | 3.12s
| fibonacci            | no recursion  | 54.60s         | guru            |
28.18          | 4.09s
|===

=== Source Code

https://github.com/gooofy/aqb



Contents of dev/basic/aqb.lha
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