According to Markus Bolton, managing director of the small software house System C, programming in C is macho. That might seem like a very good reason for not getting involved in it as a language, but the point has to be borne in mind that it does have a multitude of uses and makes Ashton-Tate’s […]
According to Markus Bolton, managing director of the small software house System C, programming in C is macho. That might seem like a very good reason for not getting involved in it as a language, but the point has to be borne in mind that it does have a multitude of uses and makes Ashton-Tate’s dBase look rather feeble in comparison. The problem is that it is famed for its difficulty to learn. Following Bolton’s line of thought, his company might be said to have found a way to feminise C through its new product Sycero C, a fourth generation language that generates C source code. Built around the Microsoft C 5.1 compiler, Sycero C enables dBase programmers to program in dBase and generate C. In other words this is a product which, if it is proven to work, has the potential to turn C into a friendlier, more accessible programming language. If this product works it will prove to be key to the personal computer programming community. This is because C is backed as a language by IBM, which includes it in its System Application Architecture, and will implement it on its AS/400 range in 1990. Furthermore, C is often described as the natural language for Unix. Consequently, whatever happens over the next decade in the personal computer market, whether the future is OS/2 or Unix, or both, C has an assured future. Hence the number of C compilers that have been touted in the market over the past couple of years. The problem with compilers is that they don’t tackle the C language skills gap and are being put back on the shelf from whence they came. At this point Microsoft steps into the picture. Microsoft, naturally enough as the originator of C and part of the C compiler market, would like to see C become as easy to use as dBase. In this context it claims to be extremely impressed with Sycero C and is endorsing the product. So what exactly is Sycero C? Well, the company, System C, was set up six years ago in Maidstone, Kent to develop and market program generators. It began in a small way with a range of products called Sycero 2 which generated programs in Basic. Then in September 1987, System C bought out Sycero dB to work with Nantucket’s Clipper product. This product took off and was very successful, being updated in line with the May 1988 release of Nantucket’s new version of Clipper. The next logical step appeared to be the launch of a program generator for Microsoft C and Borland’s Turbo C – Sycero C was born. In keeping with all System C’s products, Sycero C is based on a data dictionary, has a screen painter, a report generator and a fourth generation language. The data dictionary supports all standard field types including numerics, dates, strings and variable length memo fields. Sycero’s report generator automates up to 10 levels of sub-total, sort sequence selection, report ranges, wild card matching and exception reporting. The engine of Sycero C, however, is its fourth generation language, the Sycero Programming Language, which, being based on dBase enables the programmer to use dBase syntax and generate C.
Only integrated C generator
System C believes that the Sycero Programming Language offers the only integrated program generator for C currently on the market. The natural constituency for the product is undoubtedly the dBase user wanting to upgrade skills quickly to C. Bolton was adamant, however, that Sycero C was not being launched to cash in on an ailing dBase market (a future marketing relationship with Nantucket for Sycero dB precludes a sensible man from saying any such thing), rather System C is simply broadening its product range. To this end Bolton argued that experienced C programmers would also find Sycero C useful in speeding up their work. Sycero C costs UKP600, with a multi-user version, Sycero C Net, retailing for UKP900. At the moment Sycero C is designed for use with MS-DOS, but a Unix version will be released at Christmas, with an AS/400 version following in 1990. Half of System C’s UKP1.2m turnover is derived from export, and its continental user base will experience the usual three
to four month lead time in receiving the new product. Ultimately the proof of such an interesting program lies in its use – so go and attend one of System C’s seminars and see it for yourself. Katy Ring