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Thread: Status of Pascal

  1. #1
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    Default Status of Pascal

    I was wondering what everyone's perception of Pascal is these days. I was thinking that it's Dead in that other languages are being used instead, though I was wondering how many people out there still use it?

    Personally the Vintage Computer I use seems to have more emphasis on C based languages which are languages which are built on PCs which can compile programs to work on the old machines, not that there's anything wrong with that, though the influx seems to be more C driven without any Pascal equivalents being made.

    Naturally I agree C is a more flexible language and you can do more in it, though Pascal has it's advantages too with regard to program readability and I'm just wondering that if similar tools were produced if some of those C programs could be done in Pascal?

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    Programming languages don't always die, sometimes they mutate. Modula-2 was supposed to supplant Pascal and I suppose Oberon is supposed to supplant Modula-2.

    The usual problems ensue, however: (1) Where do I get a compiler and runtime (2) A second source for the compiler (3) What do do with the old code written in x (3) Who knows how to effectively program in this language? (4) Is it portable to architecture y?

    But if you're curious as to where Pascal has gone, do take a look at Oberon.

    What's funny is that in the 70s, a big project was undertaken at CDC to get systems programmers off of FORTRAN and assembly, so a very Pascal-like language, SYMPL, was created and forced down the throats of programming staff.

    Who the heck knows or even uses SYMPL today? Another dead language...

  3. #3

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    Here's a link I posted earlier this year about popularity of programming languages. It's not to say that "nobody" codes in other languages, but it's interesting to see where they came in last year vs this year. Pascal came up a point and was apparently more popular amongst their survey than Visual Basic.NET which surprises me.

    Pascal to me is still just an educational stepping stone language. Not that it can't do as much as C (I mean, you can use assembly in Pascal too which is where advanced graphic effects usually happen) but it never really seemed useful to me. I would have liked to learn C but our school didn't have proficient teachers at the time so I ended up with Pascal and then later a class where they just let me program whatever language I wanted and make my own assignments for completion/functionality based grading. Coulda been better but I kept myself entertained at least.
    Looking to acquire: IBM 5100, Altair 8800

  4. #4

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    Turbo Pascal 7 & Turbo C 2.01 compilers will run on my HP 200LX.

    I like C, but TP7 gets the nod, in executable size & speed.

    TP7's ASM statement works just the way you'd want it to work.
    In-line asm in TC2, not so much...

    my $.02 HK,

    Jack

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by barythrin View Post
    Pascal to me is still just an educational stepping stone language. Not that it can't do as much as C (I mean, you can use assembly in Pascal too which is where advanced graphic effects usually happen) but it never really seemed useful to me. I would have liked to learn C but our school didn't have proficient teachers at the time so I ended up with Pascal and then later a class where they just let me program whatever language I wanted and make my own assignments for completion/functionality based grading. Coulda been better but I kept myself entertained at least.
    Pascal was the language the AP Computer Science test was given in until 1999 (OT: I was among the first to take that test in C++ that year!) That alone made it a teaching language at most schools. Being strongly typed and not having to deal with pointer hell is another reason. Borland did have moderate success in turning Pascal into a modern rapid application development environment with Delphi.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Programming languages don't always die, sometimes they mutate. Modula-2 was supposed to supplant Pascal and I suppose Oberon is supposed to supplant Modula-2.



    Yes that's understandable, I guess it's more to do with usability and because there is so many languages out there today a number of them can produce the same result, the languages which are favoured are the ones which produce the best results. I'm not speaking specifically about new computers, though the system I've been doing some programming for (which is 8 bit) as a variety of new 'C" based languages (written on PC) though can easily write code for that machine. Though in that case I'm looking at the actual product.


    Other languages are available for our machine though such as Pascal and even Modula-2, Oberon looks interesting too, though I couldn't find any version of it on my system, guess it was because it first came out when things were starting to wind down for my computer, the bulk of languages I think probably came out between 1984 & 1986 with perhaps more of a restructuring of Languages later on by incorporating powerful Assembly routines into BASIC like programs to help allow the Amateur make something more powerful.


    The usual problems ensue, however: (1) Where do I get a compiler and runtime (2) A second source for the compiler (3) What do do with the old code written in x (3) Who knows how to effectively program in this language? (4) Is it portable to architecture y?



    In a way I can see where questions like those would perhaps be relevant in the context of is it portable? The problem with earlier 8bit computers is they all had their own designs, Commodore, Apple ][, Atari was 6502 based processor though all different and systems like Sinclair and Amstrad having Z80 based. It would seem these days to produce something which would allow code to be translated across a number of platforms would be more beneficial than having something which you could write for one system and in that way it would seem those languages dominate.


    But if you're curious as to where Pascal has gone, do take a look at Oberon.



    I had a little look at this language, unfortunately it's not available on the system I use, though it seems good in that it maybe addressing issues which Modula-2 had. As I mentioned earlier Modula-2 exists on our system, though I haven't used it and I'm unsure if I'd benefit from using it cause it sounds really extensive.


    What's funny is that in the 70s, a big project was undertaken at CDC to get systems programmers off of FORTRAN and assembly, so a very Pascal-like language, SYMPL, was created and forced down the throats of programming staff.



    I'm not even familiar with SYMPL, it's not even mention in the huge flowchart of Programming Languages, could it have been simply another form of Pascal? The only other language I can think of which isn't on the flowchart is Pilot which has only 5 commands or something and is used in the aid of learning something which is supposed to be easy. Guess in a way kind of like early BASIC.


    Who the heck knows or even uses SYMPL today? Another dead language...



    Was it popular amongst the Microcomputers or was it specifically written, I'm not familiar with it so I can only imagine it wasn't on a lot of computers. An interesting language I dug up on my Computer was BCPL which was another language sold through one of the software companies back in the mid-80s on ROM and on Disk. The language they produced is perhaps on par with Pascal, though since BCPL was the precursor to C, it's kind of like looking at a C program.

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    There were lots of computer languages. It seemed like every CS grad student in the 70s had a new language as part of the thesis, except for those at schools (like UCSD) who put grad students to work writing extensions for the local language or OS. Companies often fell to the siren song of creating a unique variation on an existing language as the lure of lock-in prevented examination of the costs of supporting outside developers.

    Pascal ran into a few problems. SofTech changed the pricing on UCSD Pascal to that expected for defense contractors which led colleges to go for the cheaper C and Unix combination. The Pascal standard committee seemed strangely reluctant to permit easy handling of large amounts of memory efficiently. Borland which largely pushed Pascal and objects forward spent themselves into near ruin chasing the shrinkwrap application market and overpaying for DBASE. There is still a small pool of die-hard Pascal developers if you include Delphi and some of the other Pascal variants but it isn't the dominant language it looked to be becoming back in 1980.

  8. #8

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    Pascal is actually alive and well -- and has several thriving and popular versions. It remains my language of CHOICE, even though I do quite often end up forced into using other languages as it's not always the best job for the task. (like for heavy string processing I use PHP or PERL)

    As Krebizfan pointed out, Delphi is at it's core Object Pascal... With embacardawhateverthe***they'recalled having just released a new cross-platform version of Delphi, it is an increasingly viable choice for developers. You add in Free Pascal, the Lazarus IDE for it, and you've got a very powerful free and open source option. You toss RemObjects various toolchains on there and you have even more options.

    Especially since many of the above can now use the JVM as a compile target -- so anyplace you could write java, you can now write Pascal! That part is funniest of all since Java's virtual machine is in fact based on the concepts the old p-code interpreter/virtual machines that things like UCSD Pascal used.

    About a year ago I had someone say
    "pascal, ha ha ha ha ha what a fossil! pascal is just about worthless in this day and age. Learning pascal will make you a fully qualified software archeologist."
    My response was thus:
    Wow, No offense, but that's a really ignorant viewpoint as there's PLENTY of modern software out there written entirely in Pascal. You may even have used one without realizing it!

    Avant? (the IE wrapping browser?) Asus Power4Gear? ThinkSQL? Pixel? GBXEmu? FLStudio? PC Tools Spyware Doctor? Inno Setup? CambridgeCAD? MSI Afterburner? MediaMonkey? PE Explorer? MyCORSA? AVS? BitZapper? IMGBurn? Daring Apprentice? Space Rangers 2?

    ... and that's the little stuff... How about Partition Magic? MagicISO? CloneCD? IcoFX? Spybot Search & Destroy? ADAWARE?!? WINRAR?!?

    How about this one: SKYPE?!?

    All those software packages? Written in Delphi... or Lazarus+FPC when there's a cross-platform version. Modern Object Pascal being used to build modern applications... Quite often for multiple platforms at once!
    It's alive and well.

    Oh, and in terms of 'flexibility' there isn't a blasted thing you can do in C, C++ or even C# that a modern object pascal can't handle... though really that's been true ever since Borland introduced Turbo Pascal 5. The whole bullshit idea that Pascal is somehow less 'flexible' or 'capable' than C is 100% horse manure. Anyone tells you otherwise typically doesn't know enough about Pascal or programming languages in general to even be flapping their gums on the subject!
    Last edited by deathshadow; December 26th, 2012 at 01:44 AM.
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    free pascal is quite nice.
    Torfinn

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    I'd agree that perhaps on PCs Pascal is doing alright, though I'm unsure how things are going for it for the Microcomputers.
    A number of Microcomputers had Pascal available for it back in their day, though what I'm noticing today is languages like C are being generated through PC programming for the purpose of generating programs for these old computers. Pascal seems to be moving behind the 8th ball because nothing is happening much in those fields.


    The dilemma I've always having issues with though is using Turbo Pascal 3 to make software which hits the hardware (I had no problems when I was compiling a whole bunch of DOS programs to CP/M-86 v1.1).
    On a 64k system several of the programs which come with CP/M-80 (or CP/M v2.2 in our case) are system specific and let I'm told to use GSX when it's not even available to me and only exists in CP/M Plus (which is 128k based).
    So I've had to move away from that because I've either made people mad because they either won't touch the programs because it's hardware specific or they won't use CP/M.
    A number of languages for my system were done for CP/M and I've had to start using ones which don't target CP/M and in my case there is only one Pascal compiler which isn't CP/M Specific, is older than Turbo Pascal 3 (by a couple of years) and consequently less advanced (it doesn't even recognise CONSTant Arrays, for that I have to setup an Array, and load the Data in for it.


    So this is why I was wondering if Pascal was progressing into a form where it could be more like Turbo Pascal with more system flexibility and support for different platforms.

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