Technical Issues - BASIC Tutorial I  - Getting Started

This page supplements material in FilmStar/Scantraq printed or online manuals. Since FilmStar BASIC is largely compatible with Excel VBA, familiarity with Excel VBA will be very helpful. The main difference is the way in which forms (dialogs) are implemented. There are any number of helpful online tutorials and books to be found by searching for Excel VBA tutorial.

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Additional topics: Advanced BASIC, Examples

FilmStar BASIC is a built-in language similar to Microsoft VBA. While power users rely on FilmStar BASIC and can hardly imagine working without it, other users are completely unfamiliar with its benefits. This page is intended to inspire users who have little or no experience. The only way to learn a computer language is to try it and proceed one step at a time.

Why bother? FilmStar BASIC and its associated ActiveX client/server capability is the key to automation, the key to working smarter not harder. Some applications:

Users often complain that they have no time to learn VBA or FilmStar BASIC. We suggest that you take home the USB key (or download the Free Version) and learn on your own time. Think of it as attending a university course which you would also do on your own time. A large number of examples are provided in subdirectory c:\Winfilm\Basic32. Study and make use of these examples.

Hello world is a traditional first program. Through the simple act of creating this program, a newbie joins the millions who experience the advantages of being able to go beyond point and click. If you have never written a computer program you should definitely do so now. Click Tools.. BASIC Editor <F6> and type as shown. In the BASIC editor (or IDE for Integrated Development Environment) click Macro.. Run <F5> or click the green arrow icon. Finally, click File.. Save As to save MyFirstPgm.bas. Not sure about the functions in the IDE? Look in online help under BASIC Editor.

You are now a programmer! Your next task is to familiarize yourself with the Macro Commands dialog Tools.. Macro Commands <Ctrl+Z>. Click Edit.. Insert BASIC Open and Edit.. Insert BASIC Run as shown below. OPEN provides quick access when developing code, while RUN executes code without displaying the BASIC editor. By isolating technicians from source code, RUN is most important in production.

A collection of Macro Commands (*.mcr) can be saved via File.. Save As <F12>. The number of commands is limited to six, but there are ways to specify more. We recommend saving in ..\Winfilm\Config.

Macro commands are activated in the Tools menu <Shift+F1/F6>. as well as toolbar buttons 1-6. Hover the mouse pointer over a button to see the description.

FilmStar BASIC can be mastered through studying and modifying FTG-supplied examples. Books on 'how to program' are recommended but useless without actual hands-on practice. You learn by making mistakes.

FILM Archive Fnum.faw is used in several BASIC examples. Open Fnum.faw. Then open Macro Commands and add Fnum OPEN and Fnum RUN by locating Fnum32.bas in ..\Winfilm\Basic32. If the BASIC code is modified we recommend that you save it with a different file name.

At this point you are probably wondering how the Enter values dialog is created. Open Fnum32.bas and scroll to the Begin..End lines shown below.

Place the text cursor on a line between Begin Dialog and End Dialog and click Edit.. UserDialog or click the UserDialog icon (second from right). The editor opens as shown below left. Visual design techniques are similar to VB or VBA. Objects may be moved and resized and new objects added. Click the Save and Exit icon (2nd from right) to close the dialog and insert changes between Begin Dialog and End Dialog lines.

Right-clicking an object opens the Edit Properties window. It may be easier to adjust properties here than by dragging. In addition you can assign meaningful field names.

In the code below we see familiar BASIC language keywords Sub, Dim, Tan, Atn, and Sqr as well as FilmStar keywords AxesDraw, CalcPlotStart, and LineColor. Help for BASIC language keywords is given in online help under BASIC Language while explanation for FilmStar keywords is found under FilmStar DESIGN Extensions.

The object browser offers users a quick way to review syntax and to paste in code fragments. Place the cursor on word AxesDraw and then click the 6'th icon from the left.