Task 3  Task 3: Introducing the IDE  Task 3

Most programming languages today come with tools to aid the programmer in writing code. One of the most powerful of these tools is the Integrated Developer Environment, otherwise known as the IDE. The IDE aids the programmer by providing command structure help, debugging tools and real-time syntax help, a sort of spell checker for commands. The IDE is where the programmer types in code or develops an application visually depending on the language being used. Here are a few examples of IDEs that have been and are still in use today:

Arduino IDE
Arduino IDE Utilizing the C Language
Lego NXT IDE Utilizing Lego's Visual Language
QuickBasic 4.5 IDE
Microsoft QuckBASIC 4.5 IDE Utilizing the BASIC Language
QuickBasic 64 IDE
QuickBASIC 64 IDE Utilizing the BASIC Language
VisualBasic IDE
Microsoft VisualBASIC IDE Utilizing the BASIC Language
xBasic IDE
xBasic IDE Utilizing a Form of the BASIC Language

As you can see from the images above an IDE can be rather sparse or complex depending on the language and the type of programming involved. QB64's IDE is rather spartan but looks can be deceiving as it offers a rich set of tools awaiting the programmer. Have you noticed how Microsoft's QuickBASIC 4.5 IDE and QuickBASIC 64's IDE look almost identical? As you read in the history of BASIC, Microsoft's last official release of QuickBASIC was in 1988 with version 4.5. This version of QuickBASIC however had a huge following all the up until Windows Vista was released in 2007. Windows Vista finally broke compatibility with QuickBASIC 4.5 and many figured it was the end of QuickBASIC as we knew it. But, as usually happens when fans take over, a project was created to keep QuickBASIC alive and this project eventually morphed into what is called QuickBASIC 64 today. The IDE for QuickBASIC 64 (which will now be referred to as QB64) was purposely modeled after the IDE for QuickBASIC 4.5 so programmers would feel right at home in QB64.

-- The QB64 IDE --

Go ahead and double-click on the QB64 shortcut located on your desktop to explore the IDE you'll be using in this course. Let's take a brief tour of the IDE to discover the features available before writing our first program. We'll start off by examining the various visual features of the IDE as shown in figure 1 below.

Features of the QB64 IDE
Figure 1 - Features of the QB64 IDE


- The QB64 IDE acts just like any other simple text editor, such as Notepad. The flashing cursor depicts where text will be inserted when the programmer strikes a key or pastes text from the clipboard.

Position of Cursor:

- The IDE will display the current location of the cursor within the source code. This feature can be handy when aligning text for screen display.

Current Program Loaded:

- The IDE will display the project that is currently loaded and being edited. If the project you are working on is new and has not been saved yet it will show the default name of "Untitled".


- You can search the source code for any string of text by entering it in the search area and pressing enter.


- Selecting Help brings up a very comprehensive help screen that the programmer can use to get command descriptions, help on the current command and sample code to copy and paste in the current project amongst other things.

Errors and Info Displayed Here:

- This is where the IDE will inform you of errors that it has identified in the source code or relevant information it needs to convey to you about your current project.


- The menu is fairly consistant with most Windows programs that are encountered, such as the File and Edit menus. A few of the menus however are devoted strictly to the QB64 programming environment.

File Menu
File Menu
- Create a new QB64 project (.BAS file)
Open . . .
- Open an existing QB64 project (.BAS file)
- Save the current active QB64 project.
Save As . . .
- Save the current active QB64 project with a different name.
- Check for and download any update to the QB64 language installed on the hard drive.
-Leave the QB64 IDE (you will be prompted to save the project if any changes have been made since the last save).
Edit Menu
Edit Menu
- Allows the programmer to cut, copy and paste code in the same manner as any other Windows program.
- Deletes the character to the right of the cursor or any currently highlighted text.
Select All
- Allows the programmer to select the entire text currently in the IDE.
- Undo or Redo last action
Comment (add ')
- Allows the programmer to comment (remark) out lines of code.
Uncomment (remove ')
- Allows the programmer to uncomment (unremark) lines of cade.
New SUB . . .
- Allows the programmer to create a new subroutine.
New FUNCTION . . .
- Allows the programmer to create a new function.
View Menu
View Menu
SUBS . . .
- Allows the programmer to view a list of subroutines and functions contained in the source code. Subroutines and functions are like little mini-programs contained within the main code that can be called over and over again.
Search Menu
Search Menu
Find . . .
- Allows the programmer to seek out a specific string of text within the program's source code.
Repeat Last Find
- Performs the previous Find command again allowing the programmer to find all instances of the text being searched for.
Change . . .
- Allows the programmer to seek out a specific string of text within the program's source code and replace it with some other text.
Add/Remove Bookmark
- Allows the programmer set bookmarks, or markers, within the source code which tells the IDE to stop at these points so the programmer can perform tasks related to the source code.
Next Bookmark
- Informs the IDE to continue to the next bookmark within the source code.
Previous Bookmark
- Informs the IDE to move back to the previous bookmark within the source code.
Go  to  line . . .
- Directs the IDE to move the cursor to a specific line of code within the source code.
Run Menu
Run Menu
- Executes the program's source code while the IDE watches its execution.
Start (Detatched)
- Executes the program's source code without the aid of the IDE.
Make EXE Only
- Compiles the source code into a stand-alone executable Windows program.
Options Menu
Options Menu
Display . . .
- Allows the programmer to customize the look and feel of the IDE, such as colors and fonts.
Language . . .
- Directs the IDE to use special characters and keyboard codes as specified by other human languages.
Code layout . . .
- Allows the programmer to customize the way code appears on the screen in the IDE.
Update . . .
- Customizes the way updates are delivered to QB64.
Backup/Undo . . .
- Allows the programmer to set the buffer size of the Undo/Redo menu commands.
Help Menu
Help Menu
- Brings up the help index (lower half of screen) allowing the programmer to search through the entire help database.
Contents page
- Currently performs the same function as the View command.
Keyword index
- Brings up a listing of all commands used by the QB64 programming language.
Keywords by usage
- Brings up a listing of all commands used by QB64 but sorted by use, such as arithmatic, graphics, sound, etc..
- Displays a standard programmer's ASCII chart.
Update current page
- Checks for any updates to the current help screen displayed and downloads them if available.
Update all pages
- Checks for updates to the entire help database and downloads them if available.
About . . .
- Displays the QB64 version currently installed.

-- Make It Bigger --

Each of the above IDE options and commands will be explained further as the course proceeds and their need is encountered. For now, let's go ahead and adjust the size of the IDE's window from its standard 80x25 text viewing area. Go into the Options menu and choose Display . . .

Display Options
Figure 2 - Display Options

You should now see the QB64 IDE display options as seen in figure 2 above. Change the width to 150 and the height to 50 and then click OK. This will give you a 150x50 text area in which to type your source code. If the QB64 IDE window is now too large for your computer's desktop, simply go back into options and change the height and width accordingly until the IDE fits within your desktop. Or, if you prefer, you can enter larger numbers for the width and height if you still have plenty of desktop space left.