QB Accelerator Special Report

A QBXL Special Report

    QBXL Extra
A spark has been lit. That spark is in the form of a question. "Is QB Dying?" Is that question. It is a question which has been plaguing QB message boards and chat rooms for some months now. Such a loaded question should be looked at with journalistic scrutiny, and the question should be taken to the people. QBXL shall do that.

QB is a language which has been used for over a decade in many applications, but few of those applications are ever sold in stores. It is used quite often in the industrial world to allow experts to write programs to interface with hardware and RS-232 ports. It has spawned a small following of disloyal followers, who often code in QB until they learn C, and then change languages. Many freeware RPGs and action games have been crafted using this language, but time and time again, it is accused of being an anarchronism. It's power is confined to the DOS box these days, and while some have started to interface with windows using it, turning QB into a strange, borg-like entity, many believe that with every release of MS Windows, it is struck yet another death blow. Somehow, it remains, with it's disjoined band of followers, clinging to a two decades old OS, sticking to some newer technologies through hacks, shims, libraries, and slave programs which turn this little language into something the creators never intended to create.

We asked some random people from the street whether or not they believed QB was dying. Here are their responses:

QB...I remember that, it came with DOS 5, right? Man, that sure was slow! I remember when I first got a C compiler after playing with QB...


People code in QB?


What the hell are you talking about, assmunch? Is this some computer thing? Fucking nerds...

As you can see, to many people, QB was an endearing memory, but not much else.

Anachronism or not, QB is still going strong in QB hobbyist circles. New products written in QB show up every week, and new ways to exploit new processors to do something new are concieved every day. The generally slow nature of QB generated code has been offset recently be speed losses in Visual Basic and Java, two modern languages which are even slower than QB in many applications. Soon, QB should be considered quite a speedy language compared to modern ones, if these two languages are any indication, the crossover to "goddamn slow languages" will ironically be a relatively painless and quick one.

It has been suggested that the new Object Oriented paradigm of programming has made QB, C, and scores of other programming languages Obsolete by allowing a programmer to slow down his code by making functions whose only purpose is to act as a pointer to a variable, and other, more innovative ways than can be accomplished using standard structured programming. In this light, QB has already proven that the lack of optimization techniques used by the compiler can keep the slow pace needed to compete with such languages by Visual Basic or Java.

One area which modern programming languages excel in is the features arena. It's said that a modern programming language will let a programmer do more than with an old language. Java and Visual Basic don't have any semblance of pointers or unstructured memory modification. This has been called a feature, since many C coders are too incompotent to test their tricky code for loose pointers or overflow bugs. Of course, QB will allow unstructured pointers through POKE, but pointers used in POKE must be stored in a separate variable. All this ends up meaning that to do anything quickly in QB, you must use a lib written in C -- just like in Java and Visual Basic.

I've proven beyond a doubt that QB compares favourably to VB or Java, and in the end, all that matters is that it works. That is the reason why it's used so extensively be engineers and technicians world-wide. In the end, it's not a community, or a certain feature which will ensure that QB will survive, but whether or not people will use it. As long as there are 80186s being used in industrial environments, it will. C is nice for coding games and Operating Systems, but as long as there is a need for five minute hacks with the absolute minimum of programming knowlege, QB will never die.