[Self-interest] slow systems (was: OurSelf trial nowwithout invite!)

David Harris drdpharris at gmail.com
Thu Nov 26 02:05:13 UTC 2020

Paul --

Very interesting.  Is the I-APL code available anywhere, such as github?


On Wed, Nov 25, 2020 at 4:56 PM Paul Chapman <paul at igblan.free-online.co.uk>

> David,
> Five years before I saw Smalltalk, I built a windowed IDE in C for a
> FORTH-like language (called DE before I’d heard the term IDE) of my own
> design, which rendered on a 25x80 monochrome text screen. Exactly six
> resizable and maximizable/restorable, non-overlapping windows; no icons; no
> menus; no mouse. Each window could display any of: selectable list of
> global functions; editable function source with settable breakpoints;
> function symbolic object code; contents of RAM (heap); contents of call
> stack; contents of value stack; contents of local variable; source trace;
> object trace; application I/O console. Where a value referenced something
> else symbolically, the symbol was shown; eg READ_LINE+0014H, RAM+1210H. The
> IDE ran entirely in RAM on a 128K IBM PC clone. The output was a symbolic
> object-code file. An STSC APL*PLUS program then compiled this to binary –
> eventually taking 5 hours.
> It took me 9 months to use this language and IDE to implement I-APL, a
> complete, standard-conforming APL interpreter which compiled to 26K of
> object code which ran under a VM. The VM was then implemented on a number
> of platforms (by other members of the I-APL project), including CP-M, Apple
> II, IBM PC, BBC Micro, etc.
> It took me one month (1st-30th September 1987) to design the language and
> implement the IDE. On schedule!
> My take-away?
> Overlapping windows are overrated, and maybe even counterproductive to dev
> (see most IDEs of the past 20+ years: they use minimizable-in-place windows
> and docking). I do love my mouse now, but tabbing through the windows was
> easy in my IDE. My Smalltalk/V dev setup was always 3 non-overlapping
> windows: Transcript, Workbench (my idea: ListBox+TextEdit where I could
> define & run small pieces of code), and one CHB for the app. A second,
> overlapping, CHB, usually minimized, was used for browsing non-app classes.
> Of course walkback windows and inspectors overlapped (but when I get around
> to writing a Smalltalk dev environment, they won’t.)
> Menus *might* be a design choice left over from when graphics displays had
> much lower resolutions, to save on real estate. (Look at the welcome
> proliferation of toolbars.)
> In those days, IBM keyboards had 10 function keys arranged in 2 columns on
> the left. I stole WordStar’s 2-function-key commands (one from the left
> column, one from the right) allowing 25 commands at my fingertips without
> having to hit CTRL or ALT. These were my ‘menu shortcuts’ and all I needed.
> And I still find icons annoying: they’re not scalable, ie eventually they
> all look like a multicoloured splodge. Same with emojis. Okay, maybe my
> eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be.
> As you can probably tell, I’m still resting on this particular laurel.
> Cheers, Paul
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