[fpc-devel] On recasting BORLAND PASCAL FROM SQUARE ONE for Free Pascal

Jeff Duntemann jeff at duntemann.com
Mon Jan 7 00:26:00 CET 2008

Hi everybody--

I figured I would introduce myself, having just signed on to the list 
here. Some of you may already know me and my work. I've been a Pascal 
fanatic since I discovered the language in 1978 and wrote heavily about 
it for many years. I wrote COMPLETE TURBO PASCAL in 1985 and kept it 
current for eight years, until 1993. At that point Delphi was well 
underway, and I moved most of my efforts there. The last edition of 
COMPLETE TURBO PASCAL had to be renamed for a couple of reasons, and it 
became BORLAND PASCAL FROM SQUARE ONE, focusing on BP7. That edition was 
published in 1993, but the publisher was shut down in a merger that same 
year, and few of the books that were printed were actually sold.

I've been trying to figure out what to do with the book since that time. 
(All rights reverted to me long ago.) Recently Anthony Henry suggested 
something that I had thought of a couple of years ago: Recasting the 
book for Free Pascal. Time permitting, that's what I intend to do.  I 
was paid fairly well for the book in 1992, so I'm going to release it 
under Creative Commons, which is a sort of GPL for textual material. The 
ebook PDF will be free, and I'll post the PDF on Lulu.com so that people 
can order printed copies if they prefer to read a paper book. Those 
printed copies won't be free, obviously, but they won't be expensive, 
either. (I won't know how expensive until I recast the book, as the cost 
to print a copy varies linearly with the page count.)

I've had Free Pascal installed on a corner of my hard drive for five or 
six years now, and although I haven't written anything ambitious in it, 
I've loaded and compiled a bit of the old Pascal code that I've had 
lying around for 25 years. I haven't explored it completely, but I'll 
get back to it and exercise a lot more of it in coming months.

Here are a few issues that I'd like some advice on:

1. The book is quite large, at 810 pages. To make a printed book on Lulu 
that won't fall apart after one reading, the length has to be *much* 
less than that. I'm thinking of cutting it up into a couple of shorter 
books. The first book will be purely an introduction to the Pascal 
language, and will go as far as locality and scope. (If anyone here has 
the original printed book, that would be up to about page 300.) A second 
book will take it from there, and go into a lot more depth about 
separate compilation, disk I/O, debugging, linked lists and so on. There 
may be enough material for a third book, depending on how I cut it and 
how much I will simply delete--coverage of overlays, for example. I 
really need to keep the length of a single book down to about 300 pages. 
Since the ebooks will be free, this shouldn't be a problem.

2. I need to know what platform to base the book on. It's now a DOS 
book, and I can easily recast it for work in a console window under 
Windows. However, I suspect that more people use it under Linux. Would 
basing it on Linux (using text mode in a terminal window) be better?

3. The book does not cover objects in depth. I'm of two minds about how 
to cover object-oriented programming: I prefer Delphi's object model, 
but I've used Turbo Vision (I named it, in fact) and have some example 
code. Which would be better? (I don't think I would cover objects in the 
first book, at any rate.

4. How important is it to cover GUI apps written from text mode? (That 
is, without using Lazarus or something else Delphi-like.) This wouldn't 
be in the first volume, obviously, but are enough people doing it 
(whether for Windows or Linux) to make the coverage worthwhile? I didn't 
do much on GUI apps prior to Delphi, apart from some minor messing 
around with Turbo Pascal for Windows. So that would be all new research 
for me and might take awhile--and I would prefer to cover it via Lazarus 

That's the most of it. Alas, I don't have a Mac and can't really cover 
OS/X. However, if anyone here would like to work over the material once 
I release it for FPC, I'd be happy with that.

Do let me know what you think. I need to mention that I work fairly 
slowly (mostly because I'm not retired and have a lot of other things to 
do) but I'm willing to release chapters as I finish them if people want 

Good luck and thanks for listening. I'm on the list now and will start 
digging back into FPC again.


--Jeff Duntemann
  Colorado Springs, Colorado

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