Author Topic: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?  (Read 8015 times)

RTAN

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Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« on: December 22, 2023, 11:12:27 pm »
I have an amateur/hobbyist background in VB.NET but have also written some applications in Python (for Linux), in PHP (for Linux and Windows) and in C (for DOS). I'd like to start experimenting with development for OS/2 but I don't really know a good place to start. I know I'll need OpenWatcom as a compiler.

I actually though REXX might be a good place to start so I purchased SAMS Teach Yourself REXX in 21 days and I have... well... taught myself REXX in 21 days. ;D For example I've created a few scripts which run successfully to help with applying Fixpaks to a new installation.

In the old OS/2 Professional Magazine there were many adverts for VX-REXX, and I know there was also VisProREXX as a competitor for a while. I also have a boxed copy of IBM VisualAge C++ v3 courtesy of a very generous person right here via the OS2World marketplace.

Would anyone have any recommendations for where to start? Equally, does anyone know if there's a legitimate way to obtain either VX-REXX or VisProREXX anymore since I expect they've long since been abandoned now? I've been keeping an eye out for them on eBay but haven't seen them come up at all.

Any recommendations would be welcome!

Thanks,
Richard.

Olafur Gunnlaugsson

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2023, 12:44:56 am »
Vispro/Rexx is now free but not open source, you can download it here: http://hobbes.nmsu.edu/download/pub/os2/dev/rexx/VISPROREXX-3_1_1.wpi


Martin Iturbide

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2023, 01:55:44 am »
Hello Richard.

I'm not a reference in software development, and I don't know your current background, but this year I experimented learning some Presentation Manager samples compiling. (compiling, not developing). What I did was to learn how to set up the gcc environment to compile several OS/2 PM Samples I have on github. I talked this year at Warpstock about this.

Maybe you can start with a little sample, like reading the instructions and compile it first with gcc:
- https://github.com/OS2World/DEV-SAMPLES-C-PM-Simple

If you want, after you get used to the compiling process with gcc, later you can move with openwatcom.  (In fact that is something I want to learn eventually, to use openwatcom for compiling too). Or you can start with openwatcom... is up to you.

Regards
« Last Edit: December 23, 2023, 02:56:55 am by Martin Iturbide »
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Dariusz Piatkowski

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2023, 03:50:37 am »
I have an amateur/hobbyist background in VB.NET but have also written some applications in Python (for Linux), in PHP (for Linux and Windows) and in C (for DOS). I'd like to start experimenting with development for OS/2 but I don't really know a good place to start. I know I'll need OpenWatcom as a compiler.
...
Would anyone have any recommendations for where to start? Equally, does anyone know if there's a legitimate way to obtain either VX-REXX or VisProREXX anymore since I expect they've long since been abandoned now? I've been keeping an eye out for them on eBay but haven't seen them come up at all...

So I would say the following:

1) you need to 'pick your path', that being either VACPP (which really means 3.65.x stuff) or GCC

2) if GCC is your choice, then most likely Watcom C is going to play a role, and others who are much more in-depth on this topic will be able to comment better, but stuff like WRC come into play here

In other words, I suppose the two big questions that you need to answer are:

1) are you writing from 'scratch' OS/2 stuff (for which VACPP is probably best suited, despite some of it's current limitations)

OR

2) are you most interested in porting other Linux / GCC / QT stuff over to our platform?

RTAN

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2023, 12:39:38 pm »
Thanks Darius. It sounds like if I go with VACPP I'll certainly learn about the history of OS/2 development but anything I write will be stuck in the past and I expect there'll be a lot fewer helpful resources if I get stuck and need to turn to an internet search engine to try and find the solution to a problem! It's a shame because I learn best when reading paper books and of course I've got those in spades courtesy of the VACPP box!

Thanks Olafur for letting me know that VisPro/Rexx is now free. I also found a copy of the full PDF manual which will allow me to learn how to use it although, as I hinted above, I may pay one of those printing companies to print it in book format for me.

Thanks Martin for your pointers about setting up the gcc environment which will certainly be necessary if I go down the gcc/watcom route. I'll also watch your Warpstock segment on YouTube to learn a bit more about this.

So plenty for me to think about then and some really good suggestions - thanks everyone!

Richard.

Neil Waldhauer

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2023, 03:05:09 pm »
The book "Real-World Programming for OS/2 2.11" is a great source if you learn better from books.

I found VAC 3.0.8 to be better for building most old OS/2 programs than VAC 3.6.5. Really either is fine. If I was better at C++, I'd prefer GCC.
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RTAN

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2023, 03:48:42 pm »
Thanks Neil, funnily enough I ordered that from eBay a few months ago but it was returned to the seller before it was even delivered to me because the courier damaged it in transit. Very frustrating! I have the slightly older "Real-World Programming for OS/2 2.1" but m on the lookout for the 2.11 edition if it ever crops up again!

Tom

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2023, 12:55:29 am »
I see no auctions on eBay for 2.11, but several on Amazon. And a search for the ISBN in a search machine gives even more sellers. Search for  0672305631.
Best option appears to be at abebooks.co.uk marketplace: brand new copy (so including the companion diskette) for 35.51 GBP. See https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/ShopBasketPL?ac=a&ik=31732596141
« Last Edit: December 25, 2023, 01:04:22 am by Tom »

Neil Waldhauer

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2023, 05:08:12 am »
I have both editions, but there is little difference between them. I found it an easy way to learn a lot about writing OS/2 programs. After reading "Real World Programming for OS/2 2.1", the toolkit documentation and online sources are much easier to use.
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Pete

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2023, 07:07:26 am »
Hi

Just spotted something called MAID on the ArcaNoae website and thought it may be an alternative gui tool for rexx
 
    https://www.arcanoae.com/shop/maid-user-interface-design-software/


Regards

Pete

Doug Clark

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2023, 11:07:18 pm »
RTAN,

FWIW I agree with Neil that VAC 3.0x is a good choice if you are creating a new app from scratch for OS/2.  I wouldn't worry about the age of VAC v 3 and getting help.  There are plenty of people here on the site that are familiar with that product and can help you when you need it.

If you are intending to build GUI applications you basically have 3 choices with VAC v 3:

1) Code to the Presentation Manager and Control Program API using C or C++.

There are a number of books available for teaching and assistance.  I would recommend "OS/2 2.1 Workplace Shell Programming."  Despite the title the book is really about programming to the PM API.  I believe that book is available online.

2) Code to the IBM Open Class Library (IOC) that is included in VAC 3.x.  The IOC is a extensive set of C++ classes that can be used in place of calls to the PM API.  Coding to the IOC can be faster and easier than coding to the PM API.  But the disadvantages is the GUI part of the library it not UNICODE compatible, and the library was written before C++ was standardized so some of the library classes do not conform to the C++ standard.

This means that if you want to use one of the classes from the standardized C++ library you might have to use the IBM alternative supplied in VAC instead.

I recommend the book "Power GUI Programming with VisualAge C++"  It contains lots of includes sample code.  I believe it is also available online.

3) Use the Visual Builder tool to make your GUI application.  This is a tool for building GUI application/screens by dropping "controls" (parts in Visual Builder terminology) on a composition surface and connecting events, attributes and actions of the control(s)/parts together.  When you click the "build" button the tool creates source code for the application that you then compile with the VAC compiler.

2 books: "VisualAge for C++ Visual Programmer's Handbook",  and "Object Oriented Application Development with VisualAge for C++ for OS/2"  Both books will guide you step by step through building a simple application.  I believe both books are available online.

If you want to program a GUI application in Rexx you might consider DrDialog.  It is more powerful than MAID but simpler (and less powerful) than either VxRexx or VisProRexx.  It is IBM employee written software and has always been free. 

Hope this helps.


Jan-Erik Lärka

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2023, 10:23:14 am »
I use OpenWatcom 2.0 Beta 3, a specific build that work well, as it didn't introduce problems as a later one does..., to build support libraries in C/C++ (see post about rexx library for Uniaud).
I do like the visual/gui debugger and come up with ways to debug those libraries and spot problems.

VisualAge v4 visual development was a disappointment.

DrDialog is however my choice to create gui stuff, as one otherwise need to invent new wheels over and over again.
VX-Rexx seem more powerful, but writing SOM code for must be a daunting task and the image control lack so much compared to DrDialog.

There's a lack of a grid control (no, not ValueSet, grrrr) and additional controls to use for the whole os.

Pete

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2023, 05:10:09 pm »
Hi Richard

An alternative to c and rexx is pascal - very similar to c.

WDSibyl is a fairly good RAD system, similar to Delphi, and may be of interest https://wdsibyl.org/en/


Regards

Pete

Olafur Gunnlaugsson

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2023, 09:51:12 pm »
Hi Richard

An alternative to c and rexx is pascal - very similar to c.

WDSibyl is a fairly good RAD system, similar to Delphi, and may be of interest https://wdsibyl.org/en/

That website has some issues, you can try the os2.org archive instead at https://archiv.os2.org/

RTAN

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Re: Getting started with OS/2 development - any recommendations?
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2023, 01:16:30 am »
I really appreciate everyone's continued replies, thank you very much for your thoughts, opinions, comments about pro's & con's, and links to other sites. There's certainly a lot of options here so I'll take time to look at each of those in detail. What a great community that's so keen to offer advice and recommendations!

Best,
Richard.