Antic's Review of Action! (vol. 2, no. 11, February 1984)

Optimized Systems Software, Inc.
10379 Lansdale Avenue
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 446-3099
$99.00, 16K--cartridge

Reviewed by Jerry White

ACTION! is a complete software development system, written by Clinton Parker of ACTION! Computer Services and distributed by OSS. ACTION! is a structured language on a bank-select16K cartridge. The cartridge also contains the monitor, compiler, library routines, and the most sophisticated editor I've seen to date. The bank-select feature built into the cartridge ensures that ACTION! will use only 8K of your precious RAM.

For those who have found BASIC to be too slow or assembler too difficult, ACTION! is the logical alternative. ACTION! programs can increase speed to from 50 to 200 times that of BASIC. You will find that ACTION! performs nearly as well as assembler in terms of speed and compactness of object code.

BASIC programmers will be glad to know that most Atari BASIC commands are included in ACTION!'s procedure libraries. ACTION!'s vocabulary also includes AND, ARRAY, BYTE, OARD, CHAR, DEFINE, DO, ELSE, ELSEIF, EXIT, FI, FOR, FUNC, GET, IF, INCLUDE, INT, LSH, MOD, MODULE, OD, OR, POINTER, PROC, RETURN, RSH, SET, STEP, THEN, TO, TYPE, UNTIL, WHILE, XOR, and more.

The Library is a collection of subroutines that can be used in a program, but do not have to be defined within that program. These subroutines are not actually part of the ACTION! language. They are provided for your convenience.

When you turn on your computer with the ACTION! cartridge installed, you start in the Editor. The Editor treats your text as though it were on a long sheet of paper. The display is treated as a window through which you can see only part of the text (one screen). The Editor has commands that allow you to move this window anywhere on the paper." Inside the window you can make changes to the text.

You can search for a piece of text, and you may optionally substitute another piece of text for the one you find. It is possible to leave an invisible marker (tag) at the current cursor position, and then go back to that tag in the future without having to search for it.

Last but not least, you can have two of these windows (look at different "sheets of paper") on the screen at once. This feature makes it possible to move pieces of text from one "sheet of paper" to another. You can also enter and save your text using any supported I/O device.

Numeric variable support includes BYTE (0-255), CARD (0-65535), and INTEGER (-32768 to 32767). Floating point is not directly supported. ACTION! even supports immediate mode commands, user-generated procedure libraries, and the ability to intermix 6502 machine language instructions.

I wrote a couple of short programs to see how fast each could simply count to 10,000. BASIC completed the task in 11644 jiffies while ACTION! required just over 11 jiffies (sixtieths of a second). While other benchmark tests showed slightly less than this ratio, some others have shown ACTION! to generate code over 200 times faster than BASIC.

html-ized by Dan Vernon -- April 2001