Monday, December 20
A few days ago I mentioned that Blitz Max had been released, albeit only for MacOS X so far. (And as it happens, it requires a more recent version of MacOS X than I actually have installed on any of my Macs, the most recent of which dates to 2001.)
The good people at Blitz have now released beta versions of the Windows and Linux releases, showing that they really are pretty close to shipping. To get access to the betas you have to already have a paid license for Blitz Max... Which I did, even though I couldn't actually run it, as such. Heh.
In that post I mentioned the, um, austerity of the supplied libraries, so I should also mention a couple of points here that work strongly in Blitz Max's favour. First, the libraries are for the most part written in Blitz Max, making them relatively easy to extend (and also makes them trivial to port from Mac to Linux to Windows and vice-versa). Second, the standard $80 price tag comes with the source code for all of the libraries, which makes the libraries not just easy but possible to extend. And third, Blitz has a long-standing and energetic user community, and they have already - ten days after the product was released - added significant new functionality to the libraries, which is even now being put back into the standard product. Most notably, a library enabling scripting Blitz Max programs with Lua has been developed and released in just days.
I've downloaded the Windows and Linux betas and I can confirm that the Windows version works well. And so if I disappear for a few days you can assume that the Linux version is also working well. Actually, hang on a tick...
Well, it runs well enough, but my test program won't compile because it can't find one of the libraries. I'm updating the libraries now (which is just a menu option away, very nice) and I'll try it again.
Works! Produces monster binaries* alas, so not so good for creating tiny utilities. I expect that's due to a lot of unwanted libraries being included, but the linker is supposed to be smarter than that.
I think this has a lot of promise. It's easy to use, it compiles quickly, the programs run fast, it works on Mac and Windows and Linux, it's cheap, it's got big brown eyes, and you get source code to the libraries.
Blitz Max get's a coveted Doesn't Suck award from me.
Update: Hmm. And three times slower than Python for string manipulation, which is something of a disappointment.
* By my old-fogy standards, at least. A minimal benchmark program compiled to 600k.**
** The minimal benchmark clocks it at 500 times faster than Python - for arithmetic and tight loops, which are hardly Python's strong point. But it's certainly not slow.
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