Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Harbour/xharbour Diff (5/57) - REFERENCES TO VARIABLES STORED IN ARRAYS by Przemyslaw Czerpak

In xHarbour the behavior of references stored in array is reverted in
comparison to Clipper or Harbour.
In Clipper and Harbour VM executing code like:
         aVal[ 1 ] := 100
clears unconditionally 1-st item in aVal array and assigns to it value 100.
xHarbour checks if aVal[ 1 ] is an reference and in such case it resolves
the reference and then assign 100 to the destination item.
On access Clipper and Harbour VM executing code like:
         x := aVal[ 1 ]
copy to x the exact value stored in aVal[ 1 ]. xHarbour checks is aVal[ 1 ]
is an reference and in such case it resolves the reference and then copy to x
the value of reference destination item.
It can be seen in code like:
      proc main
         local p1 := "A", p2 := "B", p3 := "C"
         ? p1, p2, p3
         p( { @p1, p2, @p3 } )
         ? p1, p2, p3

      proc p( aParams )
         local x1, x2, x3

         x1 := aParams[ 1 ]
         x2 := aParams[ 2 ]
         x3 := aParams[ 3 ]

         x1 := lower( x1 ) + "1"
         x2 := lower( x2 ) + "2"
         x3 := lower( x3 ) + "3"

Harbour and Clipper shows:
      A B C
      a1 B c3
but xHarbour:
      A B C
      A B C

It's not Clipper compatible so in some cases it may cause portability
problems. F.e. code like above was used in Clipper as workaround for
limited number of parameters (32 in Clipper). But it allows to directly
assign items of arrays returned by hb_aParams() and updating corresponding
variables passed by references (see functions with variable number of
parameters below).
Anyhow the fact that xHarbour does not have '...' operator which can
respect existing references in passed parameters and does not support
named parameters in functions with variable number of parameters causes
that reverted references introduce limitation, f.e. it's not possible
to make code like:
   func f( ... )
      local aParams := hb_aParams()
      if len( aParams ) == 1
         return f1( aParams[ 1 ] )
      elseif len( aParams ) == 2
         return f2( aParams[ 1 ], aParams[ 2 ] )
      elseif len( aParams ) >= 3
         return f3( aParams[ 1 ], aParams[ 2 ], aParams[ 3 ] )
   return 0

which will respect references in parameters passed to f() function.

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Welcome to Clipper... Clipper... Clipper

In 1997, then using Delphi 3, I had already created 32-bits Windows applications for HRIS, ERP and CRM. In 2007, using Ruby on Rails, an AJAX powered CRM site running on Apache & MySQL was created and I am now using Visual Studio .Net 2008 to create web-based projects and Delphi 7 for Win32 applications using SQL2005 & DBFCDX.

So, why then am I reviving the Original Clipper... Clipper... Clipper via a Blog as CA-Clipper is a programming language for the DOS world ? Believe it or not, there are still some clients using my mission-critical CA-Clipper applications for DOS installed in the late 80's and up to the mid 90's. This is testimony to CA-Clipper's robustness as a language :-)

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This site started out as a teeny-weeny section of Who the heck is Chee Chong Hwa ? and has graduated into a full blown web site of more than 140 pages (actually hundreds of A4 size pages) ! This is due to its growing popularity and tremendous encouragements from visiting Clipperheads from 100 countries worldwide, from North America, Central America, Caribbean, South America, Europe, Middle-East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. Thanx Clipperheads, you all made this happen !

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You may ask, what is this Clipper stuff ? Could Clipper be something to do with sailing as it is the name of a very fast sailing American ship in the 19th century ?

Well, Clipper or to be precise, CA-Clipper is the premier PC-Software development tool for DOS. It was first developed by Nantucket Corporation initially as a compiler for dBase3+ programs. Since then, CA-Clipper has evolved away from its x-base roots with the introduction of lexical scoping & pre-defined objects like TBrowse. As at today, the most stable version ofClipper is 5.2e while the latest version, 5.3a was introduced on 21 May 1996.

As at 11th November, 1996, an unofficial 5.3a fixes file was made available by Jo French. See the About CA-Clipper 5.3a section for more details. BTW, Jo French uploaded the revised 5.3a fixes file on 20th November, 1996.

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The latest news is that CA has finally released the long-awaited 5.3b patch on 21 May, 1997.

For 5.3b users, you must a take a look at Jo French's comments on unfixed bugs in 5.3b.

BTW, have you used Click ? If you're a serious Clipperprogrammer and need an excellent code formatter, Click is a natural choice. How to get it ? Simple, access Phil Barnett's site via my Cool Clipper Sites.

32-bits Clipper for Windows ?

Have you tried Xbase ++ ? Well, I have and compared to Delphi (my current Windows programming tool of choice), I'm still sticking to Delphi.

Anyway, you should visit the Alaska Home Page. Give it a chance and then draw your own conclusions !.

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