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Chapter 1: Rapid-Q Overview
Rapid-Q Documentation by William Yu (c)1999-2000 Chapter 1


1. Rapid-Q Overview

Rapid-Q is a programming language, a BASIC programming language to be precise. It is multiplatform, although not completely compatible in terms of the graphical interface, but the underlying language is more or less compatible between platforms. Rapid-Q is available for Windows, Linux, and Unix (Solaris and HP-UX are supported). You can use Rapid-Q to create both GUI and CONSOLE applications, including CGI applications. Rapid-Q generates byte-code as opposed to the native opcode of your processor. This requires an interpreter to read and execute the byte-codes, however, this interpreter is embedded in all your applications, so no extra files are necessary when you distribute your executable. The biggest issue is speed, but depending on what you're using Rapid-Q for, this may not be a factor. Rapid-Q was originally created to provide a free implementation of a BASIC programming language for Windows.

1.1 How slow is Rapid-Q anyway?
Although Rapid-Q is based on compiling your sources to byte-code, execution isn't as slow as many think. Your programs will obviously slow down if you require heavy computation or to perform very low level manipulation to data. For example, reading a single byte from a 1MB file will take longer in Rapid-Q than in most languages, but not so extremely slow that you'll be sleeping at the keyboard. Same with looping I = I + 1 a few thousand times. But in terms of displaying graphics, controls and forms, it's just as fast as any other language. For computations, I suggest writing a separate DLL in a more accustomed language like C, and call the DLL in Rapid-Q when you just need that extra speed.

1.2 What about bloat-ware?
This is obviously something which there's nothing much you can do about. Rapid-Q (the interpreter part) itself, requires about 300KB (150KB for Linux, 600KB for Sparc). So this is the overhead that all your programs will have. Compared to some Windows programs, this isn't that bad, but still bloated if all you wanted was a simple "Hello World!" program. Your bytecode will only add to it, but most likely your bytecode is less than 50KB anyway (for a moderate/large application), plus any resources and graphics you may want to include of course.

1.3 Does Rapid-Q require extra runtime DLLs?
No. All your programs require no extra runtime DLLs or externalities. Just distribute your .EXE file and that's it. They should run on any Win95/98/NT system, assuming the end user hasn't done anything to his/her Windows System files. If you compare the bloat-ware of Rapid-Q and the runtime DLLs of other languages, Rapid-Q isn't that bad in terms of bloated size.

1.4 How much memory does Rapid-Q suck out of my programs?
It doesn't suck anything out of your programs (not literally), but it does suck memory out of Windows which in turn limit the amount of memory for your program(s). It really isn't as bad as one might think though. It eats up less than 200KB for virtual, global, and heap memory combined. This is because all variables and objects are created dynamically. The heap/stack memory is the one you should look out for. If your program is deeply nested or involves intense recursion, this can grow and shrink very rapidly. You don't need to worry about cleaning up your objects or variables when your program terminates. Rapid-Q will free all your objects and clean up the memory space for you.

1.5 How easy is it to hack into my programs?
Being a byte-code compiler, if the end user knows how everything is constructed, then it's just a formality. However, Rapid-Q generates a non-standard, or non-specific type byte-code output, which means, unless the user specifically knows what each operation does, it is very very difficult to hack your program. It's easy to hack into your string variables (like any other language), because these things aren't encrypted anyway. In most cases, your program should be safe from snoopers, they might not even know your program is byte-code generated! Unlike Java or other languages, Rapid-Q does not attach any symbol table or extra debugging information to your .EXE.

1.6 Do I need a license to distribute my programs?
No. You don't need a license to use Rapid-Q (it's free), and you definitely don't need any license to distribute or sell your programs. The only agreement you have to worry about is that if you choose to use Rapid-Q, you assume any and all consequences, direct or indirectly from the use of Rapid-Q. Rapid-Q can be used for any task, whether it's profit-seeking or otherwise. You don't pay me a cent, and you don't even have to acknowledge that your program was created with Rapid-Q (although this would be a nice gesture). You CANNOT, however, distribute Rapid-Q (the program itself) and charge for it. You're allowed to bundle Rapid-Q along with your program(s), so long as the user is well informed that it's not buying into Rapid-Q, but rather, buying into your program. How is that done? By not even advertising that your distribution includes a copy of Rapid-Q. Call it the hidden feature.


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