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Palm OS Programming With NSBasic

By Clayton E. Crooks II

Developing applications for the Palm OS can be a daunting task even for experienced programmers. The standard Palm Software Developer's Kit (SDK) requires at least moderate knowledge of the C programming language and has a substantial learning curve because of the memory management requirements and specific API references. A new product, NSBasic/Palm, is certain to alleviate the drawn-out development process and make Palm OS programming a viable option for even novice programmers.

NSBasic Overview

NSBasic is a full-featured implementation of the BASIC programming language for Palm or Windows CE based devices. Because BASIC is the most widely used programming language in the world, many programmers have already invested the time in learning it. And, because it is a relatively easy language to grasp, new developers are sure to catch on in a hurry.

NSBasic, available from NSBasic Corporation, includes several groups of built-in functions and commands. The functions, which are add-ons to the standard BASIC language, provide additional support for math, file I/O (input/output), serial I/O, graphics and windowing functions. Additional commands provide support for advanced graphical user interfaces (GUI's) and to show input and output objects and dialog boxes.

The Palm screen was certainly not designed for displaying an Integrated Development Environment (IDE). As a result, NSBasic has designed their IDE to run on the Windows desktop. It includes all the normal features like source code editing, but the most useful aspect of the IDE is the Visual Designer, which allows you to graphically layout your objects and set their properties.

As you can see in Figure 1 below, the NSBasic IDE looks very much like something you might see from Visual Basic. It has an icon filled toolbar for the available objects including Bitmap, Button, Checkbox, Field, Gadget, Label, List, Popup, Pushbutton, Repeater, Scrollbar, Selector and Shift Indicator. The central panel shows the appearance of the screen you are working on. Again, much like VB, you can double click on any object in this panel to set properties or edit its code. The right panel is the Project Explorer, which can be used to navigate a project.

Figure 1: The NSBasic IDE

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