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{{fbdoc item="title" value="Frequently Asked Questions"}}----
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**""FreeBASIC"" questions:**

==- {{anchor name="item1|What is FreeBASIC?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item2|Who is responsible for FreeBASIC?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item3|Why should I use FreeBASIC rather than QBasic?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item4|Why should I use FreeBASIC rather than some other newer BASIC ?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item5|How fast is FreeBASIC?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item6|How compatible is FreeBASIC with QuickBASIC?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item7|How compatible is FreeBASIC with Windows? DOS? Linux?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item8|Does FreeBASIC support Object Oriented Programming?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item9|What are the future plans with FB / ToDo list ?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item10|Can I program GUI applications in FB ?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item11|Is FB suitable for complex / big applications?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item12|Can I use a non-latin charset in my FreeBASIC applications?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item13|Can I use Serial/COM and Hardware/CPU ports in FB?"}}==

**Getting Started with ""FreeBASIC"" questions**

==- {{anchor name="item20|Where can I find more information about FreeBASIC?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item21|Why doesn't the QB GUI open when I start FreeBASIC?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item22|Can I have an offline version of the documentation?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item23|What's the idea behind the FB dialects?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item24|Why does my program crash when I define an array larger than xx?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item25|Why does my program fail to compile with the message 'cannot find -llibname'"?}}==

**Advanced ""FreeBASIC""**

==- {{anchor name="item31|How do I link to C libraries?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item32|Can I use a debugger?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item33|What's the goal of the AR.EXE, AS.EXE and LD.EXE files included with FB ?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item34|Is there a limit on how big my source files can be?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item35|Can I write an OS in FreeBASIC ?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item36|I'm developing an OS, can FreeBASIC be ported to my OS ?"}}==
==- {{anchor name="item37|Does FreeBASIC support returning reference from Functions, like in C++?"}}==

{{anchor name="item999|See also"}}

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@@**""FreeBASIC"" questions**@@

{{anchor name="item1"}}==What is ""FreeBASIC""?==
""FreeBASIC"" is a free, BASIC compiler for Windows (32-bit and 64-bit), 32 bit protected-mode DOS (COFF executables, like DJGPP), and Linux (x86, x86_64, and ARM). It began as an attempt to create a code-compatible, free alternative to Microsoft ""QuickBASIC"", but has quickly grown into a powerful development tool, already including support for libraries such as Allegro, SDL, ""OpenGL"", and many others with its default installation.

Aside from having a syntax mostly compatible with ""QuickBASIC"", ""FreeBASIC"" introduces several new features to the aged language, including pointers to variables and functions, and unsigned data types.

""FreeBASIC"" compiler is self-hosting - written in ""FreeBASIC"", the libraries however are written in C.

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{{anchor name="item2"}}==Who is responsible for ""FreeBASIC""?==
The first versions of ""FreeBASIC"" were developed exclusively by V1ctor. Later versions gained contributions from many people, including Lillo, who developed the Linux port and the graphics library, and ""DrV"", who developed the DOS port.

See the [[CompilerCredits|FreeBASIC Credits]] page.

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{{anchor name="item3"}}==Why should I use ""FreeBASIC"" rather than ""QBasic""?==
""FreeBASIC"" has innumerable advantages over ""QBasic"", ""QuickBASIC"", PDS, and Visual Basic for DOS.
- It supports 32-bit and 64-bit processors, where ""QBasic"" is designed for 16-bit CPU's.
- It supports modern OSes. It has ports to Windows, Linux, and 32-bit DOS.
- It supports modern APIs such as SDL, ""DirectX"", ""Win32"", and ""OpenGL"".
- It is distributed under the GPL, meaning it's free and legal to use, unlike most copies of ""QuickBASIC"" / other BASICs.
- The library is distributed under the LGPL with additional exception, meaning you may do whatever you want with your compiled programs, including selling them.
- ""FreeBASIC"" is many times faster than ""QuickBASIC"" / other BASICs.
- ""FreeBASIC"" supports many features, such as pointers and inline Assembly, which are not available in ""QuickBASIC"" / other BASICs.
- ""QuickBASIC"" only supports DOS. Windows support for DOS emulation (and thus ""QuickBASIC"") is becoming thinner with every new version. Vista does not support graphics or fullscreen text for DOS applications.

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{{anchor name="item4"}}==Why should I use ""FreeBASIC"" rather than some other newer BASIC ?==
""FreeBASIC"" has many traits which make it more desirable than most other BASIC language implementations:
- ""FreeBASIC"" adheres closely to the standard BASIC syntax, making it easier to use.
- ""FreeBASIC"" is compiled to actual programs (executables), not bytecode.
- ""FreeBASIC"" has a large, dedicated community which has actively participated in the development of ""FreeBASIC"".
- ""FreeBASIC"" utilizes standard methods of accessing common C libraries. SDL, for example, is standard C SDL, not a new set of intrinsic commands.
- ""FreeBASIC"" has ports to Windows, Linux, and 32-bit DOS. It retains consistent syntax between the three ports.

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{{anchor name="item5"}}==How fast is ""FreeBASIC""?==
Most tests run by the community have shown ""FreeBASIC"" is significantly faster than ""QuickBASIC"", faster than most other GPL or commercial BASICs, and often approaching GCC in terms of speed.
The [[http://shootout.alioth.debian.org/gp4/benchmark.php?test=all&lang=all|Computer Languages Benchmark Game]], an independent test team, give ""FreeBASIC"" for Linux a speed 1.8 times slower than ""GNU g++"". Tests are about calculation, memory and disk access speed in console programs, no graphics capabilities were tested. This is not a bad result considering ""FreeBASIC"" is not yet an optimizing compiler.
One area where there is a notable speed deficiency is in 32-bit console modes. While ""FreeBASIC"" is consistently on-par with other 32-bit console mode applications, 32-bit console mode operations are significantly slower than 16-bit console operations, as seen in ""QuickBASIC"". In DOS version, some I/O operations can slow down after porting from a 16-bit BASIC to FB - optimizing the code brings the speed back.

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{{anchor name="item6"}}==How compatible is ""FreeBASIC"" with ""QuickBASIC""?==
The ""FreeBASIC"" built in graphics library emulates the most used QB graphics modes (modes 7,12,13) and implements all the drawing primitives featured in QB.
Most compatibility problems arise from the use of 8086-DOS-hardware specific low-level techniques in the old QB programs. VGA port programming, DOS interrupts, memory segment switching, poking to the screen memory or music playing using the PC speaker are not directly supported, even if they can be supported/emulated by external libraries.
Other issues in porting old QB programs, like variable name clashes with new FB keywords, variables with the name of a QB keyword plus a type suffix, default integer size being 32 bits in FB, are addressed by running ""FreeBASIC"" with the commandline switch ##-lang qb## .

See [[LangQB|Differences between FreeBASIC and QuickBASIC]].

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{{anchor name="item7"}}==How compatible is ""FreeBASIC"" with Windows? DOS? Linux? ==
""FreeBASIC"" is fully compatible with Windows, MS-DOS, ""FreeDOS"" and Linux. When planning to create a program for all three platforms, however, keep API availability in mind -- code utilizing ""OpenGL"" will work in Windows and Linux, for example, but won't in DOS, because ""OpenGL"" is not available for DOS.

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{{anchor name="item8"}}==Does ""FreeBASIC"" support Object Oriented Programming?==
""FreeBASIC"" (since version 0.90) supports classes (user-defined types) with member functions (methods), static methods, static member variables, constructors, destructors, properties, operator overloading, single inheritance, virtual and abstract methods (polymorphism) and Run-Time Type Information (RTTI). Future plans regarding OOP functionality include adding support for multiple inheritance and/or interfaces. For more information see: [[TutBeginnersGuideToTypesAsObjects|A Beginners Guide to Types as Objects]].

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{{anchor name="item9"}}==What are the future plans with FB / ""ToDo"" list ?==

You can find out what's planned for the future releases by directly looking at [[http://sourceforge.net/p/fbc/code/ci/master/tree/todo.txt|fbc's todo.txt]].

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{{anchor name="item10"}}==Can I program GUI applications in FB ?==
Yes, you can. Headers allowing you to call the GUI API of Windows and Linux are supplied with the respective versions, but the programs made this way are not portable.
There are some API wrappers and experimental RAD applications that create non-portable GUI code for Windows.
For portable programming a multiplatform GUI wrapper library as GTK or wx-Widgets may be used. GTK headers are provided with FB, but the OOP functionality currently available in FB prevents the use of wx-Widgets. The programs created with these libraries may require the user to install the wrapper libraries in their systems.
For games and small graphics applications there are some FB-specific libraries that draw and manage simple controls as buttons and edit boxes inside the graphics screen, programs made with those libs are entirely portable.

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{{anchor name="item11"}}==Is FB suitable for complex / big applications?==
The FB compiler is self-hosting, it is programmed itself in FB. That means more than 120 000 lines of code at the moment, a fairly complex application.

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{{anchor name="item12"}}==Can I use a non-latin charset in my ""FreeBASIC"" applications?==

""FreeBASIC"" has the Unicode support provided by the C runtime library for the given platform. This means FB DOS won't help you with Unicode. On other platforms you can use [[KeyPgWstring|Wstrings]] to support any charset you need. The File OPEN keyword has an additional [[KeyPgEncoding|Encoding]] parameter allowing for different encodings. As ""FreeBASIC"" is coded itself in FB, this means you can code your source in an Unicode editor so the comments and string literals can be in any character set (keywords, labels and names for variables and procedures must be kept inside the ASCII set..).
For the output to screen the support is different from console to graphics. In console mode wstring printing in non latin charsets is supported if the console font supports them. Graphics mode uses an internal CP437 charset (the old DOS charset) font so non-latin output requires a custom made raster font and the use of the [[KeyPgDrawString|DRAW STRING]] keyword. Third party tools exist to grab an external font and convert it to the DRAW STRING format.

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{{anchor name="item13"}}==Can I use Serial/COM and Hardware/CPU ports in FB?==
Yes, FB has built in functions to access the serial/COM port and hardware/CPU ports with no need of external libraries. See the {{anchor name="item999|OS specific FAQ's"}} for details for your OS, and [[KeyPgOpenCom|Open Com]], [[KeyPgInp|INP]] and [[KeyPgOut|OUT]] .

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@@**Getting Started with ""FreeBASIC"" questions**@@

{{anchor name="item20"}}==Where can I find more information about ""FreeBASIC""?==
The ""FreeBASIC"" Wiki is the most up-to-date manual for using ""FreeBASIC"", available [[http://www.freebasic.net/wiki/|here]].

Active ""FreeBASIC"" related forums, besides the [[http://www.freebasic.net/forum|official one]], can be found at [[http://www.qbasicnews.com/|qbasicnews]], [[http://www.petesqbsite.com/phpBB3/|Pete's QB Site]] , [[http://games.freebasic.net/forum/index.php|the FB Games directory]] or [[http://www.freebasic-portal.de|freebasic-portal.de (in German)]].

Active magazines which regularly have ""FreeBASIC"" related articles are [[http://www.petesqbsite.com/sections/express/express.shtml|QB Express]] and [[http://www.qbxl.net/|QBXL Magazine]]. These magazines are always looking for new articles, so if you think you've got a good idea for an article about ""FreeBASIC"", submit it!

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{{anchor name="item21"}}==Why doesn't the QB GUI open when I start ""FreeBASIC""?==
QB had an Integrated Development Environment (IDE). ""FreeBASIC"" does not.
""FreeBASIC"" is only a compiler, not a complete ""QuickBASIC"" clone. It is a console mode application. It will accept a BAS file on the command line, and spit out an EXE file.
You can create the BAS file with the simplest plain text editor in your OS (Notepad, EDIT, nano,...), then run the compiler.
If you can't live without syntax coloring, error highlighting, multiple file managing, integrated debugger, context help or other features, you need an IDE. See the {{anchor name="item999|OS specific FAQ's"}} for the IDE's and editors available.

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{{anchor name="item22"}}==Can I have an offline version of the documentation?==
This online Wiki is the official documentation for FB. Usually it is up-to-date with the latest improvements found in the development version of FB.
Offline versions of this wiki (in CHM, HTML and other formats) are available from the [[http://sourceforge.net/projects/fbc/files/Documentation/|Documentation directory at fbc's downloads site on SourceForge]].

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{{anchor name="item23"}}==What's the idea behind the FB dialects?==
The idea is to allow improvements in the language while maintaining backwards compatibility with QB code. The quirks of the QB syntax are not compatible with the more rigid style required by OOP. The new FB keywords often clashed with variable names in old QB programs. QB allowed to use freely dots in variable names and procedures not being UDT's.
The three dialects (-lang fb, -lang qb, -lang fblite) allow to combine the best of two worlds.
-##lang fb## provides the framework required for OOP programming . Other dialects don't give access to OOP.
-##lang qb## will allow the developers to keep increasing the compatibility with qb programs. Newer keywords in FB can be used by preceding them with two underscores. For example, ##Getmouse## can be called by using ##_####_Getmouse##
-##lang fblite## offers ""FreeBASIC"" language compatibility, with a more QBASIC-compatible coding style.

See [[CompilerDialects|Compiler Dialects]] for details.

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{{anchor name="item24"}}==Why does my program crash when I define an array larger than xx ?==

This generally happens because you made an //[[ProPgStorageClasses|automatic]]// fixed-length array too large, and it is corrupting the program stack. You have a couple of options:

- if possible, reduce the size of the //automatic// array
- create a variable-length array, by
- defining the array with an empty subscript list (using ##[[KeyPgDim|Dim]]##), or
- defining the array with variable subscripts instead of numeric literals, [[KeyPgConst|constants]] or [[KeyPgEnum|enums]] (using ##[[KeyPgDim|Dim]]##), or
- defining the array with ##[[KeyPgRedim|Redim]]##
- reserve more memory for the program stack by using the ##-t## [[CompilerCmdLine|command-line option]] when compiling. The default is ##-t 1024## (kilobytes). Note: it's a bad idea to use very large values here.
- create a //static// array by defining the array with ##[[KeyPgStatic|Static]]## rather than ##[[KeyPgDim|Dim]]## (only locally visible, but globally preserved)
- define the array with ##[[KeyPgShared|Shared]]## access using ##[[KeyPgDim|Dim]]## (this makes the array fully global)
- use [[ProPgPointers|Pointers]] and [[CatPgMemory|Memory Functions]] like ##[[KeyPgAllocate|Allocate]]## and ##[[KeyPgDeallocate|Deallocate]]## to manage memory yourself - this is the preferred way for storing big buffers, but not for beginners.

//Static// and //variable-length// arrays don't use the program stack for their element data, so do not have the problem associated with //automatic// fixed-length arrays. See [[ProPgStorageClasses|Storage Classes]] for more information. Note that storing huge buffers as //static// or increasing the stack size far above the default is not a very good idea, since it increases the fixed amount of memory needed to load and start you program, even if most of it is not used later, and can result in performance degrade, or even refusing your program to load at all.

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{{anchor name="item25"}}==Why does my program fail to compile with the message 'cannot find -llibname'"?==
This is an error raised by the linker. The program is supposed to link to an external library, designated in the program code with ##[[KeyPgInclib|#Inclib]]## or on the compiler command line with ##[[CompilerOptl|-l]]##. However, the linker has been unable to find a matching file in any of the library paths. Check the homepage of the library you want to compile with to find out how to download it, or check [[ExtLibTOC]] to see if information about the library can be found there. For general information on libraries and how to use them see [[ProPgPrebuiltLibraries|Using Prebuilt Libraries]] and the related pages listed there.

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@@**Advanced ""FreeBASIC""**@@

{{anchor name="item31"}}==How do I link to C libraries?==
C libraries are set up in much the same way in ""FreeBASIC"" as they are in C. Every library included with ""FreeBASIC"" has a basic include file named "//library name//.bi" which uses the [[KeyPgInclib|#INCLIB]] metacommand to include the library, and the [[KeyPgDeclare|Declare statement]] to declare the functions within the library. ""FreeBASIC"" includes hundreds of BI files, see full list of library headers [[ExtLibTOC|here]].

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{{anchor name="item32"}}==Can I use a debugger?==
""FreeBASIC"" can use preferably a debugger compatible with GNU GDB.
- ""Win32"": Insight is an user friendly wrapper for GDB, see [[FaqPgWin32|Win32 related FAQ]].
- DOS: Be warned that DOS also has product named "Insight", but it's a real mode debugger not usable with ""FreeBASIC"", use GDB or some DPMI32 debugger at least.
- Linux: use GDB.

See the {{anchor name="item999|OS specific FAQ's"}} for details for your OS.

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{{anchor name="item33"}}==What's the goal of the AR.EXE, AS.EXE and LD.EXE files included with FB ?==
AS.EXE is GAS, the "GNU assembler". It is always involved in compilation. LD.EXE is the "GNU linker", involved in creation of executables. AR.EXE is the "GNU archiver", in fact a librarian, creating ##.A## libraries.

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{{anchor name="item34"}}==Is there a limit on how big my source files can be?==
Yes, since ""FreeBASIC"" is a fully 32-bit compiler it may operate on source files up to theoretically 4GB or 4294967296 bytes, however your RAM capacity should be significantly above the size of your source, otherwise the compilation won't finish or will be very slow at least.

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{{anchor name="item35"}}==Can I write an OS in ""FreeBASIC"" ?==

YES and NO. If you really insist to write an OS and involve FB, the answer is YES. If the question is, whether it is a good idea that you, even more if a beginner, should start coding an OS using FB now, the answer is NO. Several pitfalls apply:
- OS development is hard, see [[http://www.osdev.org/wiki/Getting_Started]] .
- FB won't help you to bypass the need to deal with assembly, also C might be almost impossible to avoid.
- You won't be able to use most of the trusted FB features, like graphics, file I/O, threads, memory management, even console I/O ... just control flow, math and logic. If you need those library functions, you will have to **reimplement** them.
""FreeBASIC"" relies on GCC, and available informations about developing an OS in C apply to ""FreeBASIC"" as well. FB will help you neither more nor less than GCC.

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{{anchor name="item36"}}==I'm developing an OS, can ""FreeBASIC"" be ported to my OS ?==

Depends. If your OS at least egalizes the functionality of DOS with DPMI32 (console I/O (seeking, multiple files open, ...), file I/O, memory management) **and** has a port of GCC, then the answer is YES. If you have at least an other somewhat compliant C compiler **with** libraries, it might be possible. You can't reasonably port FB for example to an OS allowing to load or save a file in one block only, or a 16-bit OS.

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{{anchor name="item37"}}==Does ""FreeBASIC"" support returning references from Functions, like in ""C++""?==

Yes, this functionality exists since version 0.90.0. Procedures can now return references using ##[[KeyPgByrefFunction|byref]] as //datatype//## for the return type.

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{{anchor name="item999"}}{{fbdoc item="see"}}
- [[FaqPgWin32|Win32 related FAQ]]
- [[FaqDOS|DOS related FAQ]]
- [[FaqPgLinux|Linux related FAQ]]
and
- [[FaqPgrtlib|FB Runtime Library FAQ]]
- [[FaqPggfxlib2|Frequently Asked FreeBASIC Graphics Library Questions]]

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