Atari BASIC Faster And Better


Issue 16

Jul/Aug 1985

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ATARI BASIC FASTER AND BETTER is one of those American books that I have had my eye on for some time but with many books the advertising blurb turns out to be more interesting than the book itself, so I held off sending for it. Now that I have a copy, I wish that I had sent for it earlier. The title really does say it all.

The Introduction states 'Learning to program the 800 is like learning to play the piano. It's easy to play simple tunes from the very first day but you can spend a lifetime improving your technique and expanding your repertoire.' That sums up nicely just what this book helps you to do.

The author Carl Evans has collected together hundreds of hints and tips and small (and not so small) routines in both BASIC and machine language to enable you to get the best from your programming efforts. The book started life as the author's own personal notebook of routines which were meticulously noted down each time something new was developed. Routines such as dates, formatting screens, sorts, memory saving techniques, keyboard handling and many more were saved by him on disk as separate 'LIST and ENTER' routines so that each time a program was developed he merely had to ENTER the routines needed. Over 80 of these routines are presented in this book with explanations to enable you to use them in your own programs. Uniquely, every routine is numbered in sequence throughout the book so that you can save them all to disk and call any routine into your program without fear of contradicting line numbers.

Aside from the routines, which alone justify the purchase, both simple and complex programming techniques are explained and unless you really do know it all you are sure to learn at least a little and probably a great deal. There are several appendices including a complete explanation of all the error codes with explanations and examples of why they occur and how to put them right. With one or two minor exceptions, such as the use of 'spare' locations in page zero, the book applies to the entire range of Atari 8- bit micros and is a worthwhile investment that will have you producing far superior programs without having to work out all the details. You will most probably also include several routines that you might never have otherwise thought of.

The book is not primarily concerned with games programming so Player Missile Graphics are not covered but many of the techniques will be useful in introductions, scoring and general 'non-play' routines. If you want to write serious or educational or 'non-joystick' programs you will find much helpful advice packed into 300 pages of this large format book.

ATARI BASIC FASTER AND BETTER is priced at 16.95 and should be available from your dealer or from the importers, Software Express International.