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Figure 1. Multi-Basic functions.

The Star Ratings

80 Micro's star ratings reflect our reviewer's impression of a product.

In most cases, the overall rating is an average of the ratings in each of the four specific categories. However, some overall ratings may be higher or lower than this average, depending on the reviewer's subjective opinion. The stars mean:

* ★ ★ ★ * Superior: ★ ★ * * Excellent: ★ ★ ★ Good: ★ * F^ir: * Poor.

The ratings terms translate as follows:

Easy to use: How easy is it for the new user to use the hardware/software/book?

Good docs: Is the documentation clear and helpful in explaining the product's use and anticipating user problems?

Bug free: Did the reviewer encounter any bugs while using the product? Does the Job: How well does the product do what it was designed for?

± 136 to ± 1M with seven and 16 significant digits, respectively. However. Multi-Basic single- and double-precision numbers can represent values in the range of ± 1.7 M to ± 1.7s* with six and 16 significant digits, respectively.

Unlike TRS-80 Basic. Multi-Basic resets the line position only after a carriage return. Therefore. Print and LPRINT statements may need slight modifications for proper operation. The Multi-Ba-sic Chain statement functions like Microsoft Basic's Run statement, not like the Model 4 Chain statement. And the Multi-Basic LOF function does not return the number of records in a file. Instead. it returns the number of bytes in a file.

While I was putting Multi-Basic through its paces, a few bugs cropped up. The Model III RUNB didn't display

Most integer tests showed dramatic speed increases, but single-precision results were disappointing.

the prompt string for Line Input and Input Line statements. However. Linkload handled both statements correctly.

All versions of MUBAS fail to correctly compile Print statements that end with a comma following a variable. When

Multi-Basic executes such a statement, it invokes a carriage return after printing the variable. Nevertheless, you can easily overcome this compiler error by inserting a null string (" ") between the variable and the comma.

Performance

To test Multi-Basic's performance. I compiled the benchmark programs found in 80 Micro's "Marking Time" article (May 1984. p. 96). The results of the tests appear in Fig. 2.

Almost all the integer tests showed dramatic speed increases after compilation with Multi-Basic. However. I was disappointed with the single-precision test results. Because Microsoft Basic doesn't support double-precision For. . .Next loops, I was only able to perform four of the benchmark tests using double-precision variables.

Nevertheless, the four tests do illustrate a significant reduction in program execution time. While the single-precision operations are slow, most programs don't use single-precision number types extensively. A well-written program should only use single- and double-pre-clsion numbers when it's absolutely necessary. Compiled versions of well-written Basic programs usually run many times faster than their interpreted counterparts.

Documentation

Multi-Basic comes with an extensive manual (400 pages) that's divided into five sections: beginner's guide, editor manual, system manual, reference manual, and the advanced development package.

The beginner's guide covers topics such as making program back-ups. overview of the editors, and the program development process. The other four manuals cover the specifics of each part of the system.

Each of the five manuals has a complete table of contents and an extensive index. Perhaps the only improvement to the documentation would be the addition of a quick-reference card. While I found the manual well organized, its massive size makes it difficult to find a particular topic quickly.

Conclusion

Multi-Basic compiles most programs with few or no modifications. Furthermore. the resulting programs almost always run faster. The best part of Multi-Basic is its support of user-defined procedures and functions. Anybody who wants to compile existing programs or write Basic programs in a Pascal-like fashion should consider Multi-Basic a must purchase. ■

Contimu-d on p. 114

Program

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