Companion Software
Programming: BASIC
ZX Spectrum 48K

Ian Cull
Chris Bourne

For those of you muttering something about not owning an Interface One, Jonathan Edgar at Companion Software has come to the rescue with a package called ExBasic. This will run, it is claimed, on any Spectrum (though only in 48K BASIC mode on my +3). It gives the similar, but improved, facilities to your Spectrum that IMBOS offers Interface One owners.

ExBasic does not, obviously, offer any improved microdrive syntax, but everything else available in IMBOS is also into ExBasic, often in a better way than in its parent package. In addition, there are even more new commands available.

All ExBasic commands begin with an asterisk followed by the command name keyed in full - an improvement over IMBOS. Commands can also be entered in both cases.

There are a number of 'interrupt-related' commands in ExBasic, including *CLOCK, which displays the current time in the top-righthand corner of the screen. It is set using *TIME, but is only accurate when interrupts are running (therefore, time is lost when beeps or cassette commands are used).

There is also a *TRON command (good film!, but also stands for TRace ON) which displays the current BASIC program line being executed while a program is running (useful for debugging). Also built-in are various commands which allow the keyboard to be redefined (though I can't think of a reason for doing this) (function keys, perhaps? - see, I'm not just a pretty face - Ed).

ExBasic has all the IMBOS hex/decimal commands, and the double poke facility. There is also a string poke command, *WOKE addr, "string". The memory details commands are included, along with *RENUMBER and *REMKILL functions.

The print functions of IMBOS are supplemented with a 'curtain' effect command, which redraws a RAM-stored screen image slowly, like drawing a blind across the old screen image.

Sound is basically as for IMBOS, with the addition of a 'boot’ sound (?). There's also a music maker program which is easier to use than the one bundled with IMBOS.

ExBasic has the headerless save/load routines, along with an Alkatraz screen loader routine (courtesy of ODPS, though there is no credit to them in the package) - this is the professional system that draws the screen character by character, anywhere you like. Very effective, but slow (18 bytes per character on the screen).

ExBasic is available at £11.99, from Companion Software, 193 Brampton Rd, CARLISLE, Cumbria CA3 9AX.

Screenshot Text

'A music maker program is also included'

'There are even more commands available'