Interview with PowerBASIC founder Bob Zale

PowerBASIC may be one of the software industry's best kept secrets. See what founder Bob Zale says about the compilers.

An interesting fact about software is that most people will never hear about a significant portion of what's developed. For example, major corporations write tons of in-house software that is critical to their day-to-day operations — just think about the software created to control machines in various industries. Software that is commonly overlooked though essential is video or printer drivers (or other hardware). You may not realize that some of this software is written using PowerBASIC. There's a good reason why this is the case.

Programming languages have changed a lot since the old days when compiler makers were noted for counting CPU cycles and benchmarking them for speed. Today many programming languages produce resource hungry applications that end users often complain are slow and/or bloated. The people at PowerBASIC never lost that love of counting CPU cycles and benchmarking their compilers and are experts with Intel/AMD CPU machine language. This mindset, plus a reputation for rock solid compilers, has produced a current generation of compilers for Windows. If you want fast, reliable software with an amazingly small footprint, PowerBASIC is worth a look. Whether you're a hobby programmer (they sell an affordable Classic version of their compiler) or a professional, PowerBASIC is a worthwhile investment.

My interview with Bob Zale

I have been a PowerBASIC user for almost 10 years, and I can attest to its ability to create applications with an amazingly small footprint compared to other development tools I've used.

I had the opportunity to interview PowerBASIC founder Bob Zale. Find out whether he thinks PowerBASIC is one of the industry's best kept secrets, what advantages he feels PowerBASIC provides programmers, and more.

Chris Boss: Why did PowerBASIC choose to produce BASIC language compilers rather than some other language? Bob Zale: The syntax of BASIC is the closest to "natural language," the language we speak every day. Virtually every programmer can be productive with PowerBASIC in very short order. Who doesn't understand BASIC code? It's easy to read, easy to understand, easy to use at any level. When you program in a standard BASIC, like PowerBASIC, you'll find that your program is readable today, and readable a year from today. Yet our performance is unmatched by other compilers of any dialect. Here at PowerBASIC, we're very proud of our slogan, "We put the POWER in Basic!" Chris Boss: Do you consider compiler speed (compiling and execution) important for a programming language? Bob Zale: Performance. That's our first consideration. A few years back, I posted a small wall sign for our development staff. It reads simply, "Smaller_Faster. Smaller_Faster. Smaller_Faster." We follow it faithfully. Our philosophy requires that we provide the best possible code generation. We simply don't believe that sloppy coding can always be overcome by ever faster hardware. At some point, every programmer (ours included) must take on the obligation to write quality code... and we take that obligation very seriously. Chris Boss: Why do you think your customers like using PowerBASIC? Bob Zale: It's easy to use...  easy to maintain...  easy to interface with other compilers. And the performance? Unmatched by the other guys. But better yet, why not read their own words, rather than mine. You'll find some interesting testimonials, right on our web site. Another interesting read would be the PowerBASIC Forums — close to 400,000 posts from good programmers, just like you. Chris Boss: Do you think PowerBASIC is one of the software industry's best kept secrets? Bob Zale: That's a pretty fair description. We all know that source code syntax has no bearing on the quality of the generated code. No bearing on the overall performance. PowerBASIC is living proof of that fact. But we still have a bit of work in that area, just to spread the word. Chris Boss: What are some of the most exciting features of your latest Windows compiler? Bob Zale: You'll create EXE's, DLL's, Static libraries, even COM components. How about transparent Unicode? Use ANSI and UNICODE in the same program, while the compiler handles all the messy details automatically. The most comprehensive string engine in the industry. Dynamic strings. Nul_Terminated strings. Fixed_Len strings. Even Field strings. Every one in ANSI or Unicode. The inline assembler supports every opcode, even all levels of SIMD. The inline resource compiler couldn't be simpler. There's Array Sort, Scan, Insert, and Delete. Regular expressions. StringBuilder classes. Date/Time Classes. Pointer variables, both static and dynamic. A complete Macro facility __ single_line, multi_line, even Function Macros. Print Preview. Auto_removal of "dead code". Threads with automatic THREADSAFE options. And much, much more. Chris Boss: What advantages do you feel PowerBASIC provides programmers? Bob Zale: PowerBASIC is a rock-solid performer. It works as advertised the first time and every time. It compiles up to 20,000,000 lines per minute, giving you ready-to-execute code in a single operation. There's a great Debugger, with single-step, profile, trace files, call stack display, and so much more. Standard tech support is offered electronically, and it's free for life. One last point: We prefer a broader user base with fair pricing to high prices for an elite few.

Thank you to Mr. Zale for granting me this interview. Visit the PowerBASIC site to check out all of the product offerings.

Disclosure: CBS is on the PowerBASIC customer list, though the writer was not aware of this fact when he conducted the interview.


Chris Boss is the owner of the Computer Workshop, a software development business.

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