Pro-Line C Compiler

mrr at rayssd.UUCP mrr at rayssd.UUCP
Sat Apr 20 03:26:24 AEST 1985

This is just a quickie mention (hardly a review - no time) of the
Pro-Line C compiler.  I just got mine in the mail on Wednesday, and
so far, I would say it's just short of outstanding.  Take that with a
grain of salt, however.  I'm a rank beginner at C.  

The "environment" includes a "shell" which supports familiar disk
commands like ls, rm, mv and does i/o redirection (output only?).
Command line arguments are passed in the familiar way (argc, argv).
Programs are compiled with "cc" and then linked with an interactive
linker.  The compiler lists the program as it compiles, stopping on
each error encountered.  The linker prompts (>) for object filenames.
Typing an up-arrow includes all system library stuff and a null entry
signals that you think you're done.  A really nice feature of the linker
is that if you omit an object module, it will display all unresolved
external references and remain in the prompt mode rather than aborting.

The editor is the best I've seen in a C64 software package.  It reminds
me of the VMS EDT editor.  You're essentially always in "insert" mode unless
you enter "command" mode (by pressing run/stop).  The string search/replace/
delete stuff is pretty good, but I can't figure out how to do a cut/paste.
There are actually 2 editors - ed and ced.  Ced is a "syntax-checking"
editor.  It lets you know about things like unbalanced parens, curly-braces
and misused operators - things I'm really good at.  Syntax checking is
invoked with a CH command in command mode.  If an error is detected, the
cursor is placed at the source of the error.  There are NO LINE NUMBERS!
In addition, the screen scrolls forward, backward, right and left.  After
using this editor for a while, I've finally made up my mind that I prefer
a right/left scrolling editor to the 40 columns with line wrap approach.
You get to see more of your program.  The scrolling is automatic when
typing or positioning with the cursor and practically painless.

Several source programs are provided: format (text formatter), 
sort (you guessed it), wfreq (word frequency analyzer - the makings of
a cross-referencer), print and others.  

Now a little bad news.  The documentation is absolutely the skimpiest
thing I've ever seen for a product of this scope.  You actually receive
a general C primer (by the Waite group - ?) which begins at non-programmer
level and progresses slowly.  It was written using the IBM PC as its
target.  The Proline-specific documentation is a very skinny little 
3-hole set of pages (40-50) that mostly describes the function library -
it's terrible!  Also, there are some serious bugs in the dual-1541
feature.  I have not been able to compile using dual disk drives, though
I can edit in two disk mode if I assign the work disk to device 8 and
the sys disk to device 9.  This stuff just could not have been tested prior
to release.  

Is it worth 100.00?  Yes.  In spite of the shortcomings I've mentioned,
I feel like I got a value product for my bucks.  Pro-line provides a
year of software support (updates) at $20.00 a copy.  I hope that this
means the bugs I've mentioned will be fixed sometime soon.  I haven't 
written to them yet, but I will soon.  

Wow!  I really got carried away!  If you have any specific questions,
drop me a line.  I really enjoy the dialogue.

	Mark R. RInfret, SofTech Inc.
	Raytheon Co.; Portsmouth RI; (401)-847-8000 x4938

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