QB64 reaches version 2.0, gets improved debugging

Despite its name, BASIC is not exactly a recommended language for beginners these days. Technology has evolved, and now most people would steer you towards Python if you wanted to get into software development. But for those who discovered programming by copying lines from BASIC to a computer magazine, the language still has a certain nostalgic appeal.

If this sounds like you, then can we warmly recommend QB64. The open source project seeks to modernize the classic programming language while retaining compatibility for QBasic 4.5, the late 1980s BASIC environment provided by Microsoft with MS-DOS. This modernization not only includes the addition of contemporary technologies like OpenGL, but also cross-platform support that lets you run the same code on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.

The new debugging mode in QB64 v2.

The QB64 team released version 2.0 just a few days ago, which makes it a great time to test the project if you haven’t tried it yet. The changelog includes platform-specific enhancements for each supported operating system, as well as a long list of general fixes and updates. But arguably the biggest feature of this version is the inclusion of the $Debug metacommand.

When this command is included in your code, the IDE inserts a debug stub into the compiled program. During execution, the QB64 IDE will enter debug mode and communicate with your program in real time through a local TCP / IP connection. Debug mode lets you step through code line by line, verify variable values, and set breakpoints. Once you are done with the code and want to release a final binary, just delete that single. $Debug command and recompile.

We’ve talked in the past about using QB64 to revitalize vintage code, and think the project is a fantastic mix of old and new technology. You never know when you might suddenly want to dust off some code you wrote in the ’80s and run it on an operating system that didn’t even exist back then.

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Margie D. Carlisle