Grammer 2 for the TI-83+ family
Posted by Xavier on 7 February 2019, 00:28 GMT
We still haven't performed enough exploration of Zeda "Xeda / Thunderbolt" Thomas's huge production of high-quality programs, so let's do some more :)
Today, we're profiling Zeda's powerful and fast Grammer 2, a language interpreter for the monochrome TI-Z80 series. It is designed for making games, and provides 16-bit integer, and now floating-point, arithmetic. Unsurprisingly, "Grammer 2" is an improved version of Grammer 1, which was featured here years ago, and it even keeps backwards compatibility; It is packaged as an app, which brings interesting features.
A little bit of history first: for the most part, Zeda worked on Grammer 2 in 2011-2013, then the project went dormant for years, after months of improvements and bugfixes on the source code were lost. In 2016, someone else rebuilt source code from slightly newer binaries, and performed extra changes. Finally, in the few months before this news item, more changes were performed: cleanups, optimizations, the addition of a menu and an extension system. Zeda recently updated the archive multiple times, and now keeps working on expanding the functionality further, e.g. this week with nothing less than floating-point math!
As mentioned above, Grammer 2 is an interpreted language, which means that it doesn't need a compilation step, it can more easily show errors in the source code (easier debugging), and the interpreter's checks make it harder to shoot yourself in the foot and crash the calculator. As such, it's probably easier to learn than other languages - Axe, for instance, is a very famous alternative language, and a compiled one, with much less in the way of seat belts. Interpreted languages are typically slower than languages compiled to native code... but as you can see for yourselves in the screenshots, Grammer 2 is plenty fast for quite a number of purposes! Of course, it's much faster than TI-Basic, and provides immensely better access to graphics, like most alternative languages done by third parties on our beloved little calculators anyway.
The Grammer language has a dedicated section in our archives, you can find several dozen entries there... among which is an inevitable numeric quadratic solver showing off the brand-new floats ;)