SheerPower® 4GL -- Beyond BASIC --

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General Questions

Q. What is SheerPower 4GL?
A. SheerPower 4GL is a next generation database language for Windows. It includes a Rapid Development Environment (SPDEV) and a fourth-generation Database Language (SP4GL).

Q. Who Benefits from using SheerPower 4GL?
A. Novices, hobbyists and professionals in businesses and corporations alike all benefit from using SheerPower 4GL!

Q. What operating systems does SheerPower 4GL run on?
A. SheerPower 4GL runs on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server and Windows Vista.

Q. Does SheerPower run on Windows 95, 98 or ME?
A. SheerPower does not run on Windows 95. It may run on Windows 98 and ME, but we do not support these operating systems.

Q. Why are you giving SheerPower 4GL away for free?
A. We give SheerPower 4GL to you for FREE as an exchange. We want your feedback, and we want SheerPower 4GL to be used by lots of people. Please send any feedback to:

Q. You state that SheerPower is much like structured BASIC, but that it is "beyond" basic. Does this mean if I know how to program in BASIC that the same syntax is usable by SheerPower? Based on the sample menu program I've gone through in the documentation I would guess the answer is no.
A. SheerPower 4GL is based on ANSI BASIC (this is also what TrueBASIC and Visual BASIC are based on). The ANSI standard did not include MENUS or fancy DIALOGBOX statements, so we enhanced SheerPower to include these as well. However, the statements for LOGIC FLOW and FUNCTIONS and such are all BASIC syntax driven. If you have used BASIC, SheerPower will be simple to pick up. If anything in the sample programs, website or documetation are confusing or incorrect, please tell us so we can enhance or correct it.

Q. Can SheerPower make .EXE files?
A. SheerPower 4GL is an "incremental compiler". This means that when given SOURCE CODE, SheerPower compiles it into BYTE CODE (just like the popular JAVA language does), and then runs the compiled code using the SP4GL VIRTUAL MACHINE. The virtual machine is free (as is SheerPower 4GL). The Virtual Machine allows users to run SheerPower applications without having to install the entire rapid development environment.

If you want to distribute SheerPower applications, but want to HIDE the source code, SheerPower has a DEPLOY option. The DEPLOY option generates a .SPRUN file that:

  • hides your source code
  • can be password protected
  • is in a format where it can be emailed as text

In summary, SheerPower 4GL does not generate an .EXE file. Instead, SheerPower 4GL uses a Virtual Machine to run the applications.

Q. Why are you not deploying source code to .EXE files?
A. We (TTI) gave a lot of thought on how we wanted our deployed images to be distributed, and we decided that we would use the virtual machine to run our SPRUN files (just like Java with .jar files).

The advantage is that as virtual machines are developed for other operating systems, the same SPRUN file will run on any operating system that the virtual machine can run on.

If instead we had deployed to a .exe file, this would require multiple .exe files to be created, one for each operating system. This causes maintenance problems for developers. So it was our concious choice to go the virtual machine route which is much more versatile and easy to maintain.

We designed the .SPRUN files so they can be sent back and forth as pure text. You can send the text of an .SPRUN file to a user and they can save it as .SPRUN and it will run (with the Virtual Machine installed). This isn't true for EXE files... therefore an existing SPRUN file can never contain a virus. In fact, SPRUN files cannot be altered in any way whatsoever because they contain a number of self-referential hash values.

SPRUN files are easy to deploy, and are extremely secure as a result.

Q. What type of database does SheerPower use and support?
A. SheerPower comes bundled with our own proprietary database engine called ARS (Advanced Record System).

In addition, SheerPower 4GL supports all ODBC compatible database engines such as Microsoft ACCESS and Oracle. ODBC stands for "Open Database Connectivity". ODBC is a universal database interface used to access a wide range of databases. For more on SheerPower and ODBC, please review our online documentation.

Q. Is there a tool that would allow a re-creation of source code having only the pre- or post-deployed compiled files? For example, if a developer experiences a loss of source code but does have a backup of the compiled code (.SPRUN), can he decompile the .SPRUN file to recover the source code?
A. The primary reason to DEPLOY code is to hide the source code from end users. So, no such tool exists and none is planned because in the WRONG HANDS this would allow people to illegally reverse-engineer deployed applications.

You have the option to provide end-users with the source code if you want to. SheerPower runs source code just fine -- it starts by internally compiling it at a rate in excess of 200,000 lines of code per second -- and then runs the internally compiled code at the same speed as DEPLOYED code.

Q. How fast does SheerPower 4GL compile code?
A. It depends on the speed of your computer system, but version 5 of SheerPower can compile code at more than 200,000 lines of code per second:

Q. I am currently using a JK Microsystems 386 type SBC for a particular project and require that programs developed in BASIC be compiled to .exe files for downloading to the SBC's. Can similar programs developed in the Sheer Power environment be converted to .exe files for downloading? If so, how?
A. Currently, the SheerPower 4GL compiler generates P-code. The P-code is then executed by the SheerPower runtime virtual machine. Also, the SheerPower 4GL virtual machine is currently only available for the Windows Environment. Just like Sun's JAVA language, SheerPower 4GL can only run if the virtual machine is available. We do have plans to make the virtual machine available on other platforms in the future. Probably LINUX will be next.

Q. Since SheerPower is so powerful, what prevents a hacker from writing a SheerPower program and attaching it to an email message to be run automatically?
A. SheerPower programs cannot be run from any "Windows Temporary Folder". If you get an email with a SheerPower program attached, it cannot automatically run! You must first COPY the program to another folder before you can run it. We intentionally included this feature in to uphold our very high security standards.

Q. Is there a graphics package included with SheerPower 4GL?
A. The full 3D animation/graphics package we were working on has been delayed as we are focussed heavily in other areas at this time. It is not likely to be included anytime soon.

Q. How do I save the .PDF documentation to my PC hard drive?
A. RIGHT-CLICK on this link then choose "Save Target As". Select the location on your hard drive that you want to save the .PDF file to.

Or, you can LEFT-CLICK on this link and load the PDF file in your browser. Click on the "Save" icon inside the Adobe Acrobat Reader toolbar, and save the file to your hard drive.

Q. How can I access all the documentation examples easily?
A. Check out the "Examples" link inside the Table of Contents in both the online and PDF versions of the SheerPower Documentation. All of the examples are listed as clickable links that go directly to the selected example.

Q. Are there any plans to port SheerPower to Linux or an O/S2 version?
A. Yes, eventually we will port SheerPower to run on Linux. We're not sure when there will be an OS/2 version. It depends on the demand for it.

Q.Who are you people, anyway?
A. We are Touch Technologies, Inc., a computer software research and development company. We have been inventing and developing technologies for over 20 years. You can find out more about us at our parent site.

Questions, comments and suggestions are welcome!

Copyright (c) 2003-2016 Touch Technologies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Parts of the SheerPower technology are U.S. patented under patent#s 6822586, 7149765, and 8164492