True Basic

I was recently evaluating True Basic for its potential to migrate an old DOS app to Windows, here is what I learned.

  • True Basic was Basmark Basic back in the day.
  • There is almost no activity on the support forums.
  • The software doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2013.
  • The basic version doesn’t include the ability to create executables.
  • A thirty day demo is available.
  • Once you download the demo you get access to a number of other apps / files – including a user manual.
  • There is a very basic program for converting other basic variants (e.g. QuickBasic) to TrueBasic – but it adds line numbers AND doesn’t appear to handle anything related to graphics.
  • Pricing starts at $39 for Bronze, then $199 for silver.

Based on this data I won’t be using True Basic…and I doubt you should either.

QuickBasic Colors & Shapes

Colors

The COLOR statement in QuickBasic allows one to change the text/background. The sixteen colors available are (names from QBasic Wikibook; hexadecimal from QB64 Wiki):

  • 00: Black – #000050
  • 01: Dark Blue – #0000A8
  • 02: Dark Green – #00A800
  • 03: Dark Cyan – #00A8A8
  • 04: Dark Red – #A80000
  • 05: Dark Purple – #A800A8
  • 06: Orange Brown – #A85400
  • 07: Grey – #A8A8A8
  • 08: Dark Grey – #545454
  • 09: Light Blue – #5454FC
  • 10: Light Green – #54FC54
  • 11: Light Cyan – #5454FC
  • 12: Light Red – #FC5454
  • 13: Magenta – #FC54FC
  • 14: Yellow – #FCFC54
  • 15: White – #FCFCFC

Circles

The QBasic Wikibook shows the CIRCLE command as follows:

CIRCLE ([X Coordinate], [Y Coordinate]), [Radius], [Color Number]

QB64’s Wiki shows:

CIRCLE [STEP](Column,Row), radius%, [color%][, startRadian!, stopRadian!][, aspect!]

Thankfully, when I posted this question on StackOverflow, wolfhammer provided a complex example including a reusable function to achieve the same effect with JavaScript:

var can = document.getElementById('can');
var ctx = can.getContext('2d');
var w = can.width;
var h = can.height;
var x = w/2;
var y = h/2;
var radius = 30;
var startAngle = 0;
var endAngle = Math.PI*2;
var color = 'red';

CIRCLE(x, y, radius, color, startAngle, endAngle, .5);
CIRCLE(x+10, y+10, radius, 'blue', startAngle, endAngle, 1.5);

function CIRCLE (column, row, radius, color, startRadian, stopRadian, aspect) {
    var rotation = 0;
    var anticlockwise = 0;
 
    if (aspect == 1) {
       var rx = radius;
       var ry = radius;
    } else if(aspect < 1) {
       var rx = radius * aspect;
       var ry = radius;
    } else if(aspect > 1) {
       var rx = radius;
       var ry = radius * (aspect-1);
 }
 
 ctx.fillStyle=color;
 ctx.beginPath();
 ctx.ellipse(x, y, rx, ry, rotation, startAngle, endAngle, anticlockwise);
 ctx.fill(); 
}

<canvas id='can' width='200' height='150'></canvas>

Rectangles

In QuickBasic rectangles are drawn using lines. The syntax (according to QB64 Wiki) looks like:

LINE [STEP] [(column1, row1)]-[STEP] (column2, row2), color[, [{B|BF}]m style%]

Using the B option one can create an outlined box, using the coordinates specified as diagonal corners of the box. Using BF will create a filled box (e.g., with a color).

Deark and QuickBasic

I had an old QuickBasic game with .VGA files in it. What are .VGA files? Some sort of image format. Eventually I was able to determine that these were BSAVE files, but how to move them to something current?

Enter Deark (free and open source), a command-line utility that can decode files in one format and convert them into another.

I dropped deark.exe into the same folder as my QuickBasic game and the relevant .VGA files and entered the following command:

deark name_of_file.vga -opt bsave:fmt=wh16

The above command instructs deark to attempt to decode name_of_file.vga. But Deark can’t decode it without a little more help, which is why we have to define an option (-opt).

The bsave option tells Deark that this is definitely a BSAVE file and then specifies the type of BSAVE file it is (fmt=wh16). Deark provides a handy list of file formats and the relevant options.

I’d also recommend at least perusing readme.txt before using Deark.