BOOK REVIEW: HET GFA BASIC BOEK VOOR DE ATARI ST
by Richard Karsmakers
It was bound not to take long before a Dutch edition of Data
Becker's "Das große GfA Basic Buch" would appear at Data Becker
Nederlands. The book sells at ƒ89,90 (Paperback, ISBN 90 229 3440
3) and counts a massive 524 pages (the original, German, edition
'only' took 472 pages). It should be available in general
bookstores now. It was written by Uwe Litzkendorf and translated
by J.L. Rietdijk. The additional pages for GfA Basic V2.0 (not
included in the original German version) and the compiler were
done by Frans Ottenhof.
First thing that attracts attention is that the hardcover of the
original German edition has disappeared - something which I
personally don't really like. But this is only a superficial
vice, and I immediately went digging for bugs, translation errors
and the like after having opened the book. Hmmm. This was a bit
of a letdown for someone like me (always searching for other
people's errors), because there simply were no obvious bugs -
even the bugs that were present in the German version (for
example at the explanation of the OPEN command, see ST NEWS
Volume 2 Issue 1) have now disappeared like snow for the sun.
Just like the German version, the first thirty or so pages are
only present for people whose GfA Basic user manuals have been
eaten by their dogs, used as nesting material by their pet
turtles or scratched to bits by their cats. I suppose they're
included for the sake of completeness - and I might add that the
book is indeed very complete!
The book is set up around the listing of a program called
"Graphic Construction Set" ("Graphpro"). Each time a new GfA
Basic command is encountered, some text explains the use of the
command in question, often with crisp & clear explanations. Lucky
enough, the program itself is also a bit enhanced and debugged so
that it now handles disk operations and memory management
properly. It originally only works on 1 Megabyte machines, but an
Appendix explains which things one should change if one only has
a 512 Kb machine.
The "Graphpro" program offers slick professional touches, such as
3D Animation, advanced picture editing, mirror-, bucket-and tape
graphics generators and lots more. In some aspects, "Graphpro"
can be called better than most known drawing programs, especially
since it is included as a ready-to-type-in listing in the book
(and, if you're not particularly willing to use your keyboard to
much, I suppose you can still order the disk of the program -
although you might have to get it in Germany).
The book can be regarded as a user manual for GfA Basic, but more
extensive than the original usermanual. For quick reference, the
set up of the book is not perfect, but I think it is one of those
books that you cannot do without if you want to know more about
GEMDOS programming, WINDOW programming and more complicated
things like that. Together with "ST Intern" and "ST Floppy and
Harddisk", this is definately a book that one should not be
without if one tends to program a lot!
Thanks go to Mr. Frans Ottenhof from Data Becker Nederlands, who
sent me the book to review.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.