Chapter VI.5. Visual Basic and REALbasic

Since its origins as a teaching language, the BASIC language has evolved dramatically, incorporating structured programming techniques (which was once the strength of languages like Pascal) and object-oriented features (which were once available only in languages like C++). Writing a program in BASIC is usually faster and easier than writing an equivalent program in another programming language, such as C++.

Despite its ease of understanding, BASIC has three drawbacks: speed, hardware access, and portability. BASIC programs typically run much slower than equivalent C++ programs, so if speed is critical, such as creating a real-time program that monitors airplane controls or a patient's heart condition, BASIC may not be the best choice.

BASIC deliberately limits access to the computer's hardware, such as memory, which makes BASIC unsuitable for writing hardware-dependent programs such as disk defragmenters, operating systems, or anti-virus programs.

Because BASIC language has evolved over the years, numerous dialects of BASIC have emerged, so programs written in one type of BASIC dialect often won't run on another computer that uses a different BASIC dialect. This problem is most prominent when programmers use Visual Basic (www.microsoft.com/express/vb), which runs only on Windows computers.

To avoid this problem, another popular version of BASIC, dubbed REALbasic (www.realbasic.com), offers cross-platform capabilities so you can write a single ...

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