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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is NS Basic/Symbian OS?

NS Basic/Symbian is a complete, easy to use BASIC development environment for Symbian OS devices, with a look and feel similar to Visual Basic. NS Basic/Symbian OS provides a full, modern implementation of BASIC, with proper subroutines, user defined data types and no line numbers. The development environment runs on a Windows desktop.

NS Basic/Symbian OS includes over 150 statements and functions. Support is provided for file handling, TCP/IP, graphics and more. A full set of standard screen input and output objects and dialog boxes are included. Applications you create are freely distributable and are write-once, run anywhere. A 150 page spiral bound Handbook and lots of sample code are included.

The environment features a Visual Designer, which allows you to graphically lay out your objects on forms, set their properties and write code that responds to and controls them.

What devices does it run on?

NS Basic/Symbian OS runs on all Symbian OS devices based on Symbian S60 3rd & 5th Edition and UIQ3.

S60 3rd Edition devices include the Nokia N71, N73, N78, N79, N80, N81, N85, N91, N92, N93, N95, N96, E50, E51, E60, E61, E62, E70, 3250, and 5500, plus others. Since these devices do not have touchscreens, a cursor is displayed which you move around with the 5 way button. Touchscreen devices supported include the 5800.

Here is a good chart showing the specifications of Nokia devices: http://3lib.ukonline.co.uk/s60history.htm

Supported UIQ3 devices include the Sony Ericsson P1, P990i, M600i and W950i, plus others. These are touch screen devices.

Series 60 1st and 2nd Edition devices are not supported. These include the Nokia 7650, 3650, 6600, 7610, 6260, 6630, N-Gage, N-Gage QD, 6670, 6680, N70, N90 and N72 among others, plus the Siemens SX1, Sendo X, Samsung D720 and Panasonic X700. NS Basic/Symbian OS will not work on these devices.

Series 40 devices do not use the Symbian OS and are not supported. Series 80 and Series 90 devices are not supported either - no new devices are expected.

UIQ2 devices, including the Sony Ericsson P800, P900, and P910, the Motorola A920, A925, and A1000, and the Benq P30, are not supported.

When will it be available?

It is shipping now.

What is the difference between the Standard and Pro Editions?

There is no restriction by us on selling apps created with the Standard Edition. However, they are Self Signed, which means they are not "Trusted". This may affect which device it can run on. Some devices will install the app just fine, but with a warning that the app is not trusted and it's up to the user to take the risk it might do something bad. Other devices will only allow Self Signed apps to be installed if a setting is changed to allow such apps. There are also devices that lock out the installation of Self Signed apps completely.

If you create apps using the Pro Edition, you can do the higher levels of signing that avoid this complication.

Who uses NS BASIC's tools?

Close to 20,000 developers in over 80 countries use NS BASIC's tools to develop apps for handheld devices. The full spectrum of developers is included: enterprise, small business, government, education and personal use. Many of the world's largest corporations use NS Basic.

For Windows CE, it is the most popular third party development tool. For Palm OS, it is the most popular commercial tool.

Who is NS Basic/Symbian OS designed for?

NS Basic/Symbian OS is designed to appeal to developers with Visual Basic experience, to developers that do not have the time or background to master Carbide.c++ and to experienced programmers that need a RAD environment to quickly produce apps or prototypes. It is not intended to replace Carbide.c++, but rather to enable more programmers to be productive.

NS Basic/Symbian OS will also be very interesting to developers who have been using NS Basic/Palm. Most of their apps will run on Symbian devices without change, other than a recompile.

I ported an app from Palm. Why doesn't it look more like a Symbian app?

Our goal in release 1.0 is near perfect running of Palm apps on Symbian OS devices. If we changed the interface, a lot of apps would break or look ugly, as the spacing would be off. We will be adding enhancements to the UI so Palm apps can be updated to a more modern look and feel.

Of course, there isn't a great consistancy in how Symbian apps look. UIQ devices have a completely different look and feel than S60 devices. NS Basic/Symbian OS apps will look the same on both S60 and UIQ, which can make support and training easier.

Furthermore, the Symbian Foundation has announced they will be releasing a new look and feel, perhaps in 2009, which will combine features of S60, UIQ and DoCoMo MOAP(S), so the existing user interfaces will be going away.

NS Basic/Symbian OS apps have a similar look and feel on both S60 and UIQ devices. We expect the look and feel to remain consistant during the transition to the next Symbian release.

Why doesn't my app appear to fill the whole screen?

Symbian OS devices come in a large variety of screen sizes. Here's a partial list: 128 x 128, 208 x 176, 240 x 256 240 x 320, 320 x 240, 340 x 220, 352 x 416, 416 x 352.

How can you design an app that will run the same way on all of them? Some are landscape, some are portrait, some rotate either way. The best answer is to make your app square, to fit in the intersection of the screen sizes.

NS Basic/Symbian OS uses a basic 160 x 160 grid to lay out your app. If the screen is big enough, pixels are multiplied by 1.5 to give 240x240, or by 2 to give 320 x 320. (Magnifications in between look terrible, so we don't do them.)

The result is that apps you create using NS Basic/Symbian OS will run on all current Symbian OS devices without change, and will resize to take advantage of the largest square area that is available.

We are planning to add the ability to resize your app to the actual screen size. To take advantage of this, your app will have to query the screen size on startup, then resize all the objects on the form to best take advantage of it. This can rarely be done automatically: laying out objects on a form almost always takes careful planning and design.

How will the new Symbian Foundation affect NS Basic/Symbian OS?

Not everything is known at this point. Nokia have said it will take 6 months to complete the acquisition and design a new roadmap. We know they are looking at all aspects of their system, from tools to interfaces to the core OS. They have stated that existing S60 apps will continue to run.

This is actually good news for us (and our customers). It means that apps written using NS Basic/Symbian OS will continue to work, providing a stable platform for development while Nokia/Symbian Foundation goes through all its changes.

How does it work?

NS Basic/Symbian OS code is developed on the desktop. The compiler translates it into a threaded p-code file. Once on the device, it is executed by a runtime engine. The engine is ARM Native, yielding excellent performance. System calls are mapped to StyleTap CrossPlatform during execution. The StyleTap runtime is automatically included in the NS Basic installer, so there are no additional license fees or installation steps for this.

Is it like Visual Basic?

The language itself is a subset of Microsoft's Visual Basic, with extensions for a handheld environment. The development environment has a look and feel very similar to VB6, the most widely used development environment on computers.

Is it like AppForge?

AppForge had an ambitious product, however it ended up being slow, large and expensive. Unfortunately for their customers, they are no longer in business.

Many developers have converted from AppForge to NS Basic. Here are their comments.

Is it like NS Basic/Palm?

It is very much the same. Code is 100% compatible, except for hardware dependent features. The same objects (fields, buttons, etc.) appear in both products and work the same way. Each product has extensions to take advantage of the specific features of the platform it runs on.

What does it cost?

The Standard Edition is aimed at individual developers, while the Pro Edition is aimed at developers creating commercial products. Apps built with the Standard Edition are automatically Self Signed, while the Pro Edition allows higher levels of signing. See SymbianSigned.com for more information on signing.

The Standard Edition has an introductory price of $99.95 USD (regularly $149.95) and the Pro Edition is $299.95.

How fast is it?

Applications written in NS Basic/Symbian OS appear to run at a similar speed as the built in applications. Our test show a speed of execution of around 25,000 loops per second, which is more than fast enough for any app except extreme number crunching.

For a more detailed analysis, see this document.

Is there an emulator?

Symbian does not provide a native emulator that runs on the desktop like Microsoft and Palm do. Symbian's desktop emulator requires that code be compiled by an x86 compiler instead of an ARM compiler. We feel the differences this would introduce would make any test results on the emulator invalid for actual devices.

Instead, they offer a service called Nokia Remote Device Access. This connects you, via the internet, to an actual device, which you see and interact with from your web browser. Several dozen different devices are usually available.

What support is there?

NS BASIC provides support by email and on our web board. We post bug fix updates to our support site on a regular basis. Check the Web Board for the latest announcements. The web board is a very active and enthusiastic community.

What documentation is included?

NS Basic/Symbian OS comes with a 150 page hard copy handbook. It's spiral bound, so it lies flat. In addition, documentation and examples for commands and functions are available in on line help. There is also a series of handy Tech Notes.

There are many additional samples in the files section of the Web Board.

Are there any tutorials?

Yes, there is a complete set. They range from a simple Hello World program to getting stock quotes over the web.

What other languages are supported?

The Handbook is initially available in English. Other languages will be added as needed.

The IDE is currently available in English, German, Japanese, French and Spanish. NS Basic/Symbian keeps all its messages in a open string table. By translating the string table, versions of the IDE can be easily produced for other languages. If you're interested in creating a version for your own language, please contact us.

Can external routines be called?

Yes, through a variety of mechanisms:

Will it run on a Mac?

We like Macs here. On Intel Mac, use Parallels or VMWare with a Windows OS. We have also tested NS Basic/Symbian on a Mac running Virtual PC.

Will it run on Linux?

Yes. It works well on Win4Lib and VmWare.

Who is NS BASIC Corporation?

NS BASIC Corporation's tools are the most widely used third party tools for handheld devices. NS BASIC Corporation has been a leading creator of development tools for handheld devices since 1993. Close to 20,000 developers in over 80 countries use NS BASIC's tools for Palm OS, Windows CE and Newton.

You can contact NS BASIC Corporation by email at info© nsbasic.com, phone at 1 888 NSBASIC (416 264-5999) or fax at 416 264-5888.

 

So what does the "NS" stand for, anyhow?

Nice & Smart.

 

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