Window Master V3.0 Gives BASIC a New Look
The ability to use pull-down menus and pop-up windows in your programs or while programming is enticing. When I think of a windows environment, it ' s usually OS-9. However, over the years programmers have been pushing BASIC to new heights. Win dow Master allows users to easily incorporate windows, menu bars and other attractive features into their programs by adding some new commands to Color BASIC - calling the new language Window BASIC. Not only does Window Master offer new commands, it has many practical features , such as Finder, the point-and-click mousedriven interface for file management.
Window Master requires a CoCo 3, a disk drive, a Tandy Hi-Res interface, and a joystick or mouse. There arc a few restrictions and limitations when used with 128K machines (no RAM disk, fewer windows, no suppon for the WIDTH command, and a limited screen resolution of 320x200 with four color s); however, the vast majority of features are available. Entering RUN"W. BAS" loads the 512K version of the program (W128. BAS is the 128K version) and displays the Finder interface with its pulldown menu-bar options and icons for drives 0 through 4.
By default a RAM disk is created and is recognized as Drive 4. The RAM disk location can be reconfigured to an existing physical drive location. If this is done, the physical drive is reassigned to Drive 4. Clicking on a drive icon opens a scrollable window that displays up to eight icons at a time representing the programs on that drive. (Clicking on an icon for a nonexistent drive does not crash the program.) Also displayed are the number of free granules, the scroll arrows for viewing additional f iles. a disk label , and an exit box for c losing the window. The file type - BASIC, binary or data- is shown on each file icon.
Double clicking on a program icon launches the related program. You can execute disk-management commands via the Disk menu by selecting an option and highlighting the specific file(s) to be manipulated. Options exist for initializing and labeling disks, renaming files, and copying or killing multiple files.
The menu bar has five additional options: View, switches between a high- or low-resolution display; Demo-programs, features a calendar, a graphics demo, and a configuration demo; Fkeys. options for up to 80 progranunable function ("hot") keys for simple execution of complex command sequences; a C icon for running BASIC or machine-language programs, listing ASCII files. and launching any installed Desk Accessory Pak programs; and Finder.
Under the Finder option is a Goto BASIC choice, if you pret"er using the Window BASIC command line instead of the iconbased interface. Users can return to Finder by running FINDER. BAS from the Window BASIC command line. However, Window BASIC is where Window Master really shines.
Programming with Window BASIC
Running the W. BAS program and using Window Master is a good demonstration of the type of programming possible using Window BASIC. With a good understanding of BASIC, the new commands provided with Window BASIC should be fairly easy for you to use. The manual. which contains over 40 pages of clear instruction, lists how to implement the new commands by showing examples of proper syntax.
Some of the new capabiIities offered using the Window BASIC statements include event trapping for the mouse, keyboard, timer, dialog boxes, serial pons, menus, and graphics events: event specifiers; opening, c losing and hiding windows; creating window buttons and window icons; creating menus; restoring and resetting menus; on menu gosubs; mouse activation and hiding; and editing statements. Event trapping is instrumental in branching to your various subro utines and then returning command to the location in your program prior the branch.
Version updates have changed a couple of input/output statements. For instance,the in key function now accommodates numeric as well as string-type arguments. Window BASIC also offers suppon for the serial l/0 port or RS-232 pack by using device number -3 for I/0 path selection. putcha rand getchar allow for reading or writing of a single byte of information from or io a specified device.
One aspect that makes programming so much easier is the use of the function keys. Building windows and creating window buttons, or most anything for that matter, is simplified by assigning a key, upper- or lowercase, and typing the conm1and you want this key to execute when it is pressed in conjunction with the ALT key. Having SO-programming blocks at your disposal should definately increase your programming output.
The window in Window Master means that you can program in more than one window. You can open and switch between several windows via a click of the mouse or joystick. The process of changing windows is handled in a fashion similar to that of Windows for MSDOS. Clicking on an area inside an existing window brings it to the foreground. You can also retrieve a window by using its window number. This is handy when multiple window are open and the window you need is several layers deep on the screen. Windows can be dragged to different areas on the screen.
Cer-Comp has done a wonderful job of extending the capabilities of BASIC. The easy-to- use interface and well-documented program features help make the transition to Window Master a smooth one.
- Tony Olive - Rainbow May 1992. p 18.