Programming Tools for the HP 95LX

Ed summarizes the programming tools available for the 95LX, including C languages, Assemblers, BASIC, and Pascal. He also looks at more specialized tools relating to 95LX system compliancy, graphics, the keyboard, clipboard, and four-pin serial port.

By Ed Keefe

In the last issue of The HP Palmtop Paper, we described Craig Finseth's collection of programs for the HP 95LX. FREYJA (ON DISK), Memutil (ON DISK), and the Thor (ON DISK) file conversion utilities are all useful in and of themselves. But what makes Craig's package valuable to programmers is the wealth of C source code and tutorials it includes. (See page 25, Mar/Apr 93 issue.)

Until the release of this package, if you wanted to learn the secrets of System-Manager Compliant (SMC) programming, you either registered with HP as an Independent Software Vendor (ISV), or you networked with other SMC programmers on CompuServe and tried to pick up their discoveries. During the past two years, HP and other people on CompuServe have offered sample code and detailed explanations of the inner workings of the 95LX. This has helped the rest of us learn the nuances of 95LX programming.

This article summarizes some of the best tools and other resources available to 95LX programmers. If you combine the information in these files with Craig Finseth's collection, you should have a very complete textbook on programming the 95LX. Hopefully, it will get you looking in the right direction.

The files mentioned in this article are freeware or shareware. In future articles we'll look at commercial programming aides. If you're aware of any other resources, please let us know.

As you'll see, most of the code samples are written in C. Undoubtedly this is because all of the 95LX built-in applications were written in C. Programs have also been implemented in Assembler, Pascal, BASIC, Forth, and AWK. (A future article will discuss the pros and cons of each of these languages as they relate to the 95LX.) In the section titled "Support for other Languages" we've included sample code or resources that support these other languages.

Writing System Compliant Programs in C

With the initial release of HP's Independent Software Vendor (ISV) documents, it became apparent that the preferred language for writing System Manager Compliant programs was Microsoft C. The final step in making a program System-Manager Compliant involved converting an .EXE file to an .EXM file (one that could be loaded and run by the SYSMGR program). The conversion program supplied by HP worked only with programs written in Microsoft C. Those who preferred Borland C were temporarily out of luck.

In addition, information was scarce on graphics, communications, scan codes for the keys, and the unique serial port.

Fortunately, help was on the way in the form of text files and utilities that began appearing on CompuServe in late 1991 (listed below).

Unless otherwise indicated, these files are in PRGTOOL1.ZIP & (ON DISK) on the May/Jun issue of The HP Palmtop Paper ON DISK.

Programming Tools and Tips