Business Basic can be something of a mystery if you don't already work with someone who knows it. Learning the language has always been more or less an apprenticeship process, with knowledge being passed from one programmer to another. But there are a few resources out there that a beginner can easily access.
Although it's estimated that about 2,000,000 computer systems are now using Business Basic applications, there has never been a standardization movement found with other languages. Originally developed in the early 1970s as an interactive language for mini-computer systems, Business Basic was proprietary until the 1980s when it was ported by a number of vendors to UNIX, DOS, VMS, and Xenix operating systems. Attempts to standardize the language were not supported by the industry for various reasons. Today, standardization would be impossible. Since the advent of Windows-based, GUI technology around 1994, the language has diverged too much. Although the different vendors' products may be similar in functionality, the implementation varies to an extreme degree.
Some see this lack of standard training resources as a question of priorities. Part of the problem was, and still is, that the market for Business Basic is small, and the firms serving that market are also relatively small. Most of these companies would rather allocate resources to product development rather than to the writing of training materials.
For general principals of programming using Business Basic, Scott Ryan's book, Business Basic--What do you say after it says: Ready>, is about the only existing text for the beginner. You can order it for $65, plus shipping and handling, from his website (see Basic Surfing 101). It details what Scott calls "plain vanilla" Business Basic and can help fill the gap between no knowledge of the language at all and manufacturers' documentation, which is often written assuming that the user has some prior knowledge of the language. While it does give enough information to develop whole character-based systems, it was written about ten years ago and doesn't contain information about current programming technologies, such as GUI applications.
So, where to start learning?
Basic Surfing 101
One of the best sites (besides our own!) for Business Basic information is Gary McClellan's website at www.bbpro.org. You can find history, mailing lists, vendors, newsgroups, and a Business Basic FAQ.
Our own BASIS website at www.basis.com also offers a wealth of information, including newsgroups, an online knowledgebase, technical tips, and archived issues of the The BASIS Advantage. Check out the following documents available from our Programmer's Technical Archive at www.basis.com/support/pta.html:
You can also check out Scott Ryan's website at
www.business-basic.com. The information about how to order his
book, Business Basic--What do you say after it says:
Ready>, is there.
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