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Bruce Axtens
Bruce Axtens

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tbas, a tiny cross-platform basic interpreter

I started programming in 1977, back then processor speeds and memory sizes were considerably less than what we have now. I learned how to achieve much with little, and from time to time I deliberately return to that time by using resource-limited tools.

For example, there's a family of programming languages called BASIC and I've been helping out on a project called tbas developed by an Italian programmer, Antonio Maschio.

tbas is based on Antonio's earlier decb which is an implementation of DEC BASIC.

Antonio is actively developing tbas, and we're currently up to Beta7 in-house. We've got it running under Linux, the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), Cygwin (32bit) and Cygwin64. It should compile for MacOS. Source is available along with comprehensive documentation.

tbas has a number of quirky limitations which provide interesting opportunities to think outside the box. Strings, for example, are a maximum of 255 characters long! There are some intriguing ideas too, like CHANGE.

I enjoy stepping back in time with tbas. It helps maintain a sense of perspective, especially when C# and JavaScript are being for some reason recalcitrant. Want a NUnit or xUnit tool? Roll your own. Want command line parsing tools? Roll your own. Want database tools? You get the idea.

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