Harbour Differences

Differences between Harbour and other compatible compilers ( xHarbour, Clipper, xBase++, CLIP, FlagShip )


Compile time support for merging multiple .prg modules
New language statements
Extended codeblocks
Hash arrays
References to variables stored in arrays
Passing array and hash items by reference
Passing object variables by reference
Detached locals and references
Declaration and initialization of variables
Functions with variable number of parameters
Hb_ArrayToParams() function
Macros with declared symbols
Macro messages
Multivalue macros
Using [] operator for string items
Negative indexes in [] operator used to access items from tail
Using one character length string as numeric value
New bit operators
IN, HAS, LIKE operators
Pre/post incrementation/decrementation and <op>= operators
Global / global external (global_extern)
Literal date and TIMESTAMP values
Extended literal string in compiler and macrocompiler
Symbol items and function references
OOP scopes
OOP and multiinheritance
OOP and private/hidden datas
OOP and class object/class messages
Typed object variables
Object destructors
Scalar classes
Runtime class modification
Array and string preallocation
DIVERT statement
Multi window GTs and runtime GT switching
Multi thread support
Thread local work areas and concurrent work area access
Harbour tasks and MT support in DOS
Background task
Codeblock serialization / deserialization
Native RDDs
Regular expressions
INET sockets
I18N (internationalization) support
ZLIB (compression/decompression)
Serial port support
Macro compiler
Compiler library
PP library
Contrib libraries
C level compatibility
Performance and resource usage

This list borrowed from Harbour github documentation; please look at there for details.



Coding Guidelines

Coding Guidelines

( by Greg Holmes )

Language Syntax 
The general rule of thumb is: built-in features in lowercase, and custom-written functions in mixed case. 
When specifying the complete syntax of a language element in documentation, the input items, parameters, and so on are referred to using the following symbols:

 Symbol  Description
< >  Indicates user input item
( )  Indicates function argument list
[ ]  Indicates optional item or list
{ }  Indicates code block or literal array
| |  Indicates code block argument list
–>  Indicates function return value
 Repeated elements if followed by a symbol
Intervening code if followed by a keyword
,  Item list separator
|  Indicates two or more mutually exclusive options
@  Indicates that an item must be passed by reference
*  Indicates a compatibility command or function

For example:

    len(<cString>|<aArray>) --> nLength

Metasymbols provide a place holder for syntax elements, and they describe the expected data types. A metasymbol consists of one or more lowercase data type designators followed by a mixed case description. This is known as Hungarian Notation.

 Designator  Description
a  Array
b  Code block
c  Character expression
d  Date expression
exp  Expression of any type
id  Literal identifier
l  Logical expression
m  Memo field
n  Numeric expression
o  Object
x  Extended expression

In this example, dnLower and dnUpper can be either date or numeric:

    @...get...range <dnLower>, <dnUpper>
Filenames and Aliases 
All filenames, in any context, are in upper case. Filenames follow DOS naming conventions (preferably limited to letters, numbers, and the underscore).

    use CUSTOMER
    nHandle := fopen('DATAFILE.DAT')

When referring to specific file types in documentation, include the period.
e.g. “A program is stored in a text file with a .PRG extension.” 
Alias names follow the same conventions as filenames, but are limited to A-Z, 0-9, and the underscore. If a filename begins with a number or contains unusual characters, an alias must be specified when the file is opened or an error will result. 
Note that CA-Clipper does not natively support Windows 95 long filenames, although third-party libraries are available to add the capability.

Fieldnames are all uppercase, and always include the alias of the table. Fieldnames may contain underscores, but should not begin with one (because the underscore is generally used to indicate an internal symbol).

    @ 10, 10 say BANKS->BRANCH
Memory Variables 
Memory variables consist of a lowercase type designator followed by a mixed case description (see Hungarian Notation). Although CA-Clipper only recognizes the first 10 characters as unique, variable names may be longer.

    cString := "Hello World"
    nYearlyAverage := CalcYearAvg()

If you use Hungarian Notation for your memory variable names and include the table alias with fieldnames, there will be no conflict between the two.

Commands, Functions, and Keywords 
All built-in commands, functions, and keywords are lowercase. In documentation, the font should be Courier or a similar font. If fonts are not available, then bold or CAPITALIZE the word for emphasis. 
Never use abbreviations — this practice is not necessary with a compiler, although it was common in the early days of dBase (which was an interpreter). 
There should never be a space between the function name and the opening parenthesis. Also, note that the iif() function should never be spelled if().

    replace CUSTOMER->CUSTNAME with cCustName
    nKey := inkey(0)

When specifying commands that have clauses in documentation, separate the keywords with an ellipsis (...) and do not include the to clause, unless it is followed by the file,print, or screen keywords.

    set message...center
Programmer-Defined Functions & Procedures 
These begin with an uppercase letter, followed by mixed case letters as appropriate.

    ? StripBlanks("Hello there, this will have no spaces.")

Function and procedure names may contain underscores, but should not begin with one (they may conflict with internal functions which often start with an underscore). There should be only one return statement per function or procedure, and it should not be indented.

    function SomeFunc (...)
      . <statements>
    return cResult

The return value of a function is not enclosed in parentheses, although parentheses may be used to clarify a complex expression.

    return nValue
    return (nCode * 47) + nAnswer
Preprocessor Directives 
Preprocessor directives are lowercase and are preceded by the # sign.

    #include 'INKEY.CH'

Optionally, you may use single quotes around header files that come with CA-Clipper and double quotes around your own. This convention is purely voluntary, but it helps to distinguish between the two. For example:

    #include 'INKEY.CH'
    #include "MY_APP.CH"

Manifest constants are uppercase.

    #define ESCAPE   27
    if lastkey() == ESCAPE

Pseudo-function names should also be uppercase.

    #define AREA(length, width)   ((length)*(width))
Local variables are grouped according to functionality, and may be declared on one or more lines. The declarations appear as the first code at the beginning of a function or procedure.

    procedure Main ( )
    local nTop, nLeft, nBottom, nRight
    local cOldScreen, cOldColor, nOldCursor

Variables may be declared one per line and accompanied by a description.

    local nCount        // Number of records found.
    local nTotal        // Sum of dollars.

The description can be omitted if better variable names are chosen.

    local nRecordCount
    local nDollarTotal

Variables can be initialized when they are declared, although it is often clearer (and safer) to initialize them immediately before they are used.

    local nRecordCount:=0
    local nDollarTotal:=0
The .T. and .F. are typed in uppercase.
The in-line assignment operator (:=) is used for all assignments, and the exact comparison operator (==) is used for all comparisons.

    lContinue := .T.
    nOfficeTotal := nRegionTotal := 0
    lDuplicate := (CUSTFILE->CUSTNAME == cCustName)
    if nLineCount == 4  ...
    if left(PRODUCT->CODE, 3) == left(cProdCode, 3)  ...

Although the compound assignment operators (+=-=*=, etc.) are convenient, they should not be used if readability suffers.

    // The traditional way to accumulate:
    nTotal := nTotal + INVDETAIL->PRICE
    // A good use of a compound assignment operator:
    nTotal += INVDETAIL->PRICE
    // But what does this do?
    nVal **= 2

The increment (++) and decrement (--) operators are convenient, but can lead to obscure code because of the difference between prefix and postfix usage.

    nY := nX-- - --nX        // Huh?
Whenever a list of two or more items is separated by commas, the commas are followed by a space.

    MyFunc(nChoice, 10, 20, .T.)

Spaces may be used between successive parentheses.

    DoCalc( (nItem > nTotal), .F. )
    cNewStr := iif( empty(cStr), cNewStr, cStr + chr(13) )

Spaces should surround all operators for readability.

    nValue := 14 + 5 - (6 / 4)

In declarations, often spaces are not used around the assignment operator. This tends to make searching for the declaration of a variable easier.

    local lResult:=.F., nX:=0

Thus, searching for “nX :=” would find the lines where an assignment is made, while searching for “nX:=” would find the declaration line (such as the local above).

Indenting control structures is one of the easiest techniques, yet it improves the readability the most. 
Indent control structures and the code within functions and procedures 3 spaces.

    procedure SaySomething
       do while .T.
          if nTotal < 50
             ? "Less than 50."
          elseif nTotal > 50
             ? "Greater than 50."
             ? "Equal to 50."

Case statements in a do…case structure are also indented 3 spaces.

    do case
       case nChoice == 1
          ? "Choice is 1"
       case ...
Do not use tabs in source code — insert spaces instead. Tabs cause problems when printing or when moving from one editor to another, because of the lack of a standard tab width between editors and printers. Typically, printers expand tabs to 8 spaces which easily causes nested control structures to fall off the right-hand side of the page. Commonly, a source code editing program will insert the appropriate number of spaces when the <TAB> key is hit.
Line Continuation 
When a line of code approaches the 80th column, interrupt the code at an appropriate spot with a semicolon and continue on the next line. Indent the line so that it lines up in a readable manner.

    set filter to CUSTFILE->NAME  == 'John Smith  ';
            .and. CUSTFILE->STATE == 'OR'

To continue a character string, end the first line with a quote and a plus sign and place the remainder on the next line. Try to choose a logical place in the string to break it, either at a punctuation mark or after a space.

    @ 10, 10 say "The lazy brown fox tripped over " + ;
                 "the broken branch."
Use double quotes for text that needs to be translated (will appear on the screen), and single quotes for other strings.

    ? "Hello World!"
    cColor := 'W+/B'

This is a simple but extremely effective technique because translation departments often want to see the messages in context (in the source code), so the different quote types indicate which messages are to be translated and which should be left alone.

Comments are structured just like English sentences, with a capital letter at the beginning and a period at the end.

    // Just like a sentence.
    /* This comment is longer. As you
       can see, it takes up two lines */

You may encounter old-style comment indicators if you maintain older (Summer’87 and earlier) code.

    && This is an older-style of comment indicator.
    *  The asterisk is also old.

For in-line comments, use the double slashes.

    use CUSTOMER            // Open the data file.
    goto bottom             // The last record.

Note that the ‘//‘ of in-line comments begins at column 40, if possible. This leaves enough room for a useful comment.

Source :  http://www.ghservices.com/gregh/clipper/guide.htm

FT Toolkit Overview

NANFOR.LIB Working Group G. Scott [71620,1521]
Overview UCLA
Version 2.1 October, 1992




This is a standard for establishing and maintaining NANFOR.LIB, a public-domain, user-supported library of functions designed to interface with Computer Associates CA-Clipper, version 5.01a, and later. You are encouraged to read it over and forward comments to Glenn Scott, CIS ID [71620,1521].

1.1 History

In October and November of 1990, a discussion on the evolution of third-party products, vendors, and marketing took place on the CompuServe Information Service’s Nantucket Forum (NANFORUM). During this discussion, a forum subscriber named Alexander Santic suggested the idea of a user-supported Clipper function library, available to all on the CompuServe Information Service (CIS). A number of subscribers, including several Clipper third party developers, and some Nantucket employees, expressed their support. This standard was a first step toward organizing such an endeavor.

Release 1.0 of the toolkit was made available in April, 1991 and had nearly 150 functions. By the time version 2.0 was released in August, 1991, the 1.0 library had been downloaded nearly 700 times by CompuServe users. By October of 1992, release 2.0 had been downloaded over 2100 times. The source code had been downloaded nearly 1500 times. In addition, release 2.0 was placed on the massive Internet archive site called SIMTEL20 where it was downloaded by CA- Clipper users worldwide. Over the course of the year that release 2.0 was available, seven patches were issued, each one gathering nearly 1000 downloads.

Computer Associates International, Inc. acquired Nantucket in the summer of 1992 and subsequently renamed NANFORUM to simply CLIPPER. In addition, the Clipper product itself was renamed to CA-CLIPPER. Despite the name changes, forum members decided to keep the toolkit’s name as “The Nanforum Toolkit,” partly for nostalgia. References to NANFORUM in this RFC have been replaced with CLIPPER.

1.2 Trademarks

CA-Clipper is a registered trademark of Computer Associates International, Inc. Computer Associates will be referred to as CA throughout this document.

1.3 Relationship to CA and third party

NANFOR.LIB is a project independent of any third party developer or CA. There is no official “sanction” or “seal of approval” from CA of any kind. In addition, NANFOR.LIB routines will be accepted and included without regard for whether or not routines performing a similar function are included in a commercial third party or CA product.

It is desired that NANFOR.LIB not compete with third party products but rather fill in the holes in CA-Clipper’s standard library. However, there will be some overlap into commercial third-party library functions, so it would be best if this is never taken into consideration when deciding on including a particular function.

Developers submitting NANFOR.LIB routines can and will be corporate developers, third party developers, independent consultant / programmers, hobbyists, and other CA-Clipper people. Perhaps even CA employees will contribute. No one is excluded or included due to any particular affiliation.

CA employees submitting functions are doing so as individuals, and are not making a policy of involving CA in the project, nor are they committing CA to supporting the public domain library.

1.4 CA-Clipper version supported

NANFOR.LIB functions, no matter what language they are written in, will be designed to work with CA-Clipper version 5.01a and later. Many of the functions, particularly those that use the EXTEND system, will be compatible with the Summer 1987 version of CA-Clipper. However, ensuring Summer 87 compatibility will be the responsibility of the user. If a user wants a function to work with Summer 87, she will have to modify the code herself if necessary. In many cases, this is a trivial task.

1.5 Queries from new users

Queries from new users interested in finding NANFOR.LIB should be handled in a uniform and courteous way. A short text file will be created that will briefly explain NANFOR.LIB, who the current people maintaining it are, and how to get a hold of it. This text message can be sent in response to any query. TAPCIS users will find this method very easy to implement.


2.1 Public Domain

NANFOR.LIB, its source code, and documentation will be public-domain software. It is not for “sale”, and shall not be sold. No fee or contribution of any kind will be required for anyone wanting a copy, other than what they would normally pay to download it from CompuServe. Users will be encouraged to submit functions via CompuServe.

2.2 Official repository

It is possible that copies of NANFOR.LIB will be downloaded and distributed elsewhere. This is encouraged, but the only copy of NANFOR.LIB and all associated documentation that will be maintained by volunteers is in an appropriate library on the CIS CLIPPER Forum.

2.2.1 Contents

The deliverables that make up the official posting on CompuServe shall be: NFLIB.ZIP

This will contain the files NANFOR.LIB (library), and NANFOR.NG (Norton Guide). NFSRC.ZIP

This will contain all the library source code, makefile, and other source-code related materials. NFINQ.TXT

This is a short text file used as a response to new user queries (see paragraph 1.5) NFRFC.ZIP

This contains an ASCII format, as well as a WordPerfect 5.1 format copy of NANFOR.RFC named NFRFC.TXT (ASCII) and NFRFC.WP5 (WordPerfect 5.1). NFHDRS.ZIP

This contains templates of the file and documentation header blocks, including a sample, for prospective authors (FTHDR.PRG, FTHDR.ASM, FTHDR.SAM) PATx.ZIP

These are patch files (see paragraph 4.5.1).


3.1 “Best Function”

It is possible that more than one developer will submit a function or package of functions that perform substantially the same services. In that event, the referees will choose one to be included based on power, functionality, flexibility, and ease of use. Due to the cooperative, non-commercial nature of the library, no one’s feelings should be hurt by excluding duplicate functions.

In addition, it is possible that two substantially similar functions or packages will benefit from merging them together to provide new functionality. This will be the prerogative of the referees (see paragraph 6.3), in close consultation with the authors.

3.2 Public Domain

Each author submitting source code must include as part of that code a statement that this is an original work and that he or she is placing the code into the public domain. The librarian (see paragraph 6.1) and referees should make a reasonable effort to be sure no copyrighted source code, such as that supplied with some third party libraries, makes it into NANFOR.LIB. However, under no circumstances will the librarian, referees, or any other party other than the submitter be responsible for copyrighted code making it into the library accidentally.

3.3 Source code

Full source code must be provided by the author for every routine to be included in NANFOR.LIB. No routine, no matter what language, will be put into the library on the basis of submitted object code.

3.4 Proper submission

Due to the volume of submissions expected, librarians and referees may not have the time to fix inconsistencies in documentation format, function naming, and other requirements. Therefore, the librarian shall expect source code to arrive in proper format before proceeding further with it.

3.5 Quality and perceived usefulness

In a cooperative effort like this, it is very difficult to enforce some standard of quality and/or usefulness. For example, a package of functions to handle the military’s “Zulu time” may be very useful to some, and unnecessary to others.

The Nanforum Toolkit will by its very nature be a hodgepodge of routines, some of very high quality, some not so high. It is up to the users to improve it. It will be complete in some areas and vastly inadequate in others. It is up to the users to fill in the holes.

We shall err on the side of including “questionable” functions, provided they seem to work. Debates on the quality of the library’s source code shall be encouraged and will take place in the proper message section of the CompuServe CLIPPER forum.


4.1 Selection procedure

Source code will be submitted to the librarian, the documenter (see paragraph 6.2), or one of the referees. Code will be added if it has been reviewed, and approved by at least one, but preferably two, referees.

Code not meeting the documentation or source code formatting standards will generally be returned to the author with instructions.

Referees will test the submitted code. When the referees have finished evaluating a submission, they will report their approval or disapproval to the librarian, with comments.

Every effort should be made to make sure that the C and ASM functions are reviewed by referees with suitable C and ASM experience.

4.2 Update interval

As new functions are submitted, they will added to the library, and the documentation updated. Because this is a volunteer project, and because of the complexity involved in coordinating testing, documentation, and delivery, there will be no fixed interval for updates.

4.3 Version control

NANFOR.LIB will use a numeric version number as follows:

The major version will be numeric, starting from 1. This will change with each quarterly update. The minor version will change with each bug fix. This will start with zero and continue until the next major update, at which point it will revert to zero again.

Typical version numbers might be 1.1, 2.12, 15.2, etc.

The .LIB file, and all associated files, will carry a date stamp corresponding to the day it is released on the CLIPPER forum. The file time stamps shall correspond to the version number (i.e., 1:03am is version 1.3).

4.4 Announcing updates

As the library and its associated documentation are updated, simple announcements will be posted on the CLIPPER forum. This is the only place where an update shall be announced. An update will be announced after it has been successfully uploaded to the appropriate library on CompuServe.

4.5 Bug reports and fixes

The librarian will correlate and verify all bug reports, with the help of the referees. If the referees believe a bug to be serious, they will fix it and the librarian will release a maintenance upgrade immediately. If they consider it a minor bug, they will fix it but wait for the next scheduled upgrade to release it. In this case, a bug fix may be released as a “Patch.”

4.5.1 Patches

A “patch” is simply an ASCII text file containing instructions for editing the source code to a misbehaving function or group of functions. Patches may appear in the CIS library before a maintenance release or quarterly upgrade. A patch file will have a name of the form


where <n> is a number starting from 1. Patches will be numbered sequentially. Patches will be deleted every time a new version of NANFOR.LIB goes on-line.

A patch zipfile may optionally contain .OBJ files to be replaced in user libraries via a LIB utility.

4.6 Technical Support

Technical support will work just as any technical subject on the CompuServe CLIPPER forum works. Users will post questions and suggestions to a particular message area or thread, and anyone who knows the answer should respond. No one is obliged to answer, but it is considered good form to respond with something, even if one doesn’t know the answer.

Support will include help on recompiling the routines or modifying the source.

4.7 Linker Compatibility

In order to assist users of CA-Clipper third party linkers (such as WarpLink or Blinker), NANFOR.LIB may need to broken up into root and overlay sections. How this will be done will be determined when splitting becomes necessary.

The librarian is not responsible for testing every possible linker for NANFOR.LIB compatibility. It is hoped that linker users will submit appropriate link scripts or other documentation for posting in the appropriate section on the CLIPPER forum.

4.8 Splitting NANFOR.LIB by functional category

It is possible that at some future date, it will make sense to split NANFOR.LIB into separate functional areas (e.g., video routines vs. date routines, etc). This RFC will be modified accordingly should that need arise.


The goal of this standard is not to force anyone to rewrite his code for this library, but to create some consistency among the functions so that they may more easily maintained and understood by all CA-Clipper developers, both novice and advanced.

However, it is extremely important that anyone submitting code attach the proper headers and documentation and fill them out correctly. This will make it much easier for code to be added to the library.

5.1 Required sections for each function
5.1.1 Header (author name/etc, version ctrl info)

Figure 1 shows a header that must be included at the top of every piece of source code submitted to the library. This header will work with both CA-Clipper and C code. For ASM code, substitute each asterisk (“*”) with a semicolon (“;”) and delete the slashes (“/”).

 * File......:
 * Author....:
 * CIS ID....: x, x
 * Date......: $Date$
 * Revision..: $Revision$
 * Log file..: $Logfile$
 * Modification history:
 * ---------------------
 * $Log$
Figure 1 - Standard function header.

Note that the date, revision, logfile, and modification history fields will be maintained by the librarian and should not be edited or adjusted by code authors.

The “File” field shall contain the source file name. This is often independent of the individual function name. For example, a function named ft_screen() would be included in SCREEN.PRG. As a rule, source files (.PRG, .C, .ASM) should not have the “FT” prefix.

The “Author” field should have the author’s full name, and CIS number. A CIS number is important, as this will make bug fixing and other correspondence easier.

5.1.2 Public domain disclaimer

Authors shall simply state “This is an original work by [Author’s name] and is hereby placed in the public domain.”

5.1.3 Documentation block
/* $DOC$
 * $END$

Figure 2 – Standard Documentation Header

The documentation block must be carefully formatted as it is used by the documenter to produce the Norton Guide documentation for the library.

The keywords enclosed in dollar-signs delimit sections of the documentation header analogous to those in the CA-Clipper 5.0 documentation. Documentation should be written in the same style and flavor as the CA material, if possible. Refer to the CA-Clipper documentation for more detail and numerous examples.

The documentation will appear on comment lines between the keywords. Examples are optional. Do not put documentation on the same line as the comment keyword.

Note that the $DOC$ and $END$ keywords serve as delimiters. Do not place any text between $DOC$ and $FUNCNAME$, or any documentation after the $END$ keyword, unless that documentation belongs in the source code file and not in the resultant Norton Guide file.

The $FUNCNAME$ keyword should be followed by the function name, with parentheses, and no arguments or syntax, such as:


Note the indent for readability. Parentheses shall be added after the function name as shown above.

The $ONELINER$ keyword should be followed by a simple statement expressing what the function does, phrased in the form of a command, e.g.:

          Sum the values in an array

The length of the entire $ONELINER$ shall not exceed 60 characters (this is a Norton Guide limitation).

The $SYNTAX$ keyword should be followed by a CA- standard syntax specifier, such as:

         ft_screen( <nTop> [,<nBottom>] ) -> NIL

All parameters have proper prefixes (see paragraph 5.4), and are enclosed in <angle brackets>. Optional parameters are enclosed in [square brackets] as well. An arrow should follow, pointing to the return value. If there is no return value, it should be NIL. Any others should be preceded with the proper prefix (see the CA- Clipper documentation).

The $SEEALSO$ field provides a way to generate cross-references in the Norton Guide help documentation. Use it to point the user to other related functions in the forum toolkit. For example, if ft_func1() is also related to ft_func2() and ft_func3(), the field would look like this:

ft_func2() ft_func3()

Note that fields are separated by spaces and the parentheses are included.

The $INCLUDE$ area allows you to specify what files are included by this function (this will be used to organize the on-line help file, and possibly the master makefile). An example would be

int86.ch int86.inc

Other documentation fields should be self- explanatory. Review the appendix for a sample. All fields are required and must be filled in. Examples should not be considered optional.

5.1.4 Sample header and documentation block

Refer to the Appendix for a sample header and documentation block.

5.1.5 Test driver

A test driver is an optional section of C or CA- Clipper code that will only be compiled under certain circumstances. Developers are encouraged to include a short “test section” in front of their code.

The test driver shall be surrounded by the following pre-processor directives, and placed at the top of the source file:

#ifdef FT_TEST
     [test code]

The test driver is currently optional, but authors submitting Clipper code should seriously consider adding it. It is a good way to include short demos within a piece of source code, yet pay no penalty because it is only compiled if needed. It will be invoked when a #define is created that says “#define FT_TEST.” This is a way for submitters to include short test routines with their functions and yet keep it all in one source file. This will be useful to end users.

This test driver may become required in a future version of the RFC.

5.1.6 Code

The source code shall be formatted as described in paragraph 5.4.

5.2 Function names

All NANFOR.LIB functions start with one of two prefixes. If the function is to be called by user programs, then it will begin with the prefix

FT_       ("F", "T", underscore)

Note that “FT” is a mnemonic for “Forum Toolkit.” If the function is “internal” to a module, then it will be prefixed by an underscore:

_FT ( Underscore, "F", "T" )

with no trailing underscore. Examples:

FT_CURDIR() "external"
_ftAlloc() "internal"
5.3 Librarian’s authority to change function names

Some functions will be submitted that either (1) bear a similar name to another function in the library, or (2) bear an inappropriate name. For example, a function called FT_PRINT that writes a character to the screen could be said to be named inappropriately, as a name like FT_PRINT implies some relationship to a printer. The librarian shall have the responsibility to rename submitted functions for clarity and uniqueness.

5.3.1 Changing a function name after it has been released

Once the library is released with a particular function included, then a function name should generally be frozen and not renamed. To do so would probably cause difficulties with users who had used the previous name and are not tracking the changes to the library.

5.4 Source code formatting
5.4.1 Clipper

Clipper code shall be formatted in accordance with CA’s currently defined publishing standard. Although there will surely be some debate over whether this is a good idea, in general, the goal is to provide something consistent that all CA- Clipper developers will recognize.

Minor deviations will be permitted.

The CA standard usually means uppercase keywords, and manifest constants, and lower case everything else.

In addition, identifiers shall be preceded with the proper metasymbol:

 n Numeric
 c Character or string
 a Array
 l Logical, or boolean
 d Date
 m Memo
 o Object
 b Code block
 h Handle
 x Ambiguous type

Refer to the CA-Clipper documentation for samples of CA’s code publishing format.

5.4.2 C

C source code shall be formatted in a generally accepted way, such as Kernighan and Ritchie’s style used in the book _The C Programming Language_.” The use of CA’s EXTEND.H is encouraged.

5.4.3 ASM

No particular formatting conventions are required for assembly language source code, since assembly code formatting is fairly standard. Lowercase code is preferred. Be sure to include the proper documentation header information, as described above.

Do not place ASM code in DGROUP. See paragraph 5.11.

5.5 Organization into .PRGs

Since many different people will be submitting routines, it is probably best if all routines that belong together are housed in the same .PRG. If there is some reason to split the .PRG, the referees and the librarian will handle that as part of library organization.

5.6 Header files

Including a “.ch” or “.h” or “.inc” file with each function would get unwieldy. For the purpose of NANFOR.LIB, all #defines, #ifdefs, #commands, #translates, etc that belong to a particular source file shall be included at the top of that source file. Since few submissions will split over multiple source files, there will usually be no need to #include a header in more than one place.

If a “ch” file will make the end user’s job of supplying parameters and other information to NANFOR.LIB functions easier, then it shall be submitted as a separate entity. The referees will decide on whether to include these directives in a master NANFOR.CH file.

5.7 Clipper 5.0 Lexical Scoping

NANFOR.LIB routines that are written in CA-Clipper will make use of CA-Clipper 5.0’s lexical scoping features to insulate themselves from the rest of the user’s application.

For example, all “privates” shall generally be declared “local.”

If a package of Clipper functions is added to the library, then the lower-level, support functions will be declared STATIC as necessary.

5.8 Use of Publics

Authors shall not use PUBLIC variables in NANFOR.LIB functions, due to the potential interference with an end-user’s application or vice versa.

If a global is required for a particular function or package of functions, that global shall be accessed through a function call interface defined by the author (.e.g, “ft_setglobal()”, “ft_getglobal()”, and so on). Globals such as these shall be declared static in the .PRG that needs them.

5.9 Use of Macros (“&” operator)

The use of macros in NANFOR.LIB functions will be, for the most part, unnecessary. Since this is a CA-Clipper 5.0 library, the new 5.0 codeblock construct should be used instead. Anyone having trouble figuring out how to convert a macro to a codeblock should post suitable questions on the CLIPPER forum on CompuServe.

5.10 Use of Static Functions

Any CA-Clipper 5.0 function that is only needed within the scope of one source file shall be declared STATIC. This applies mostly to NANFOR.LIB “internals” (names with an “_ft” prefix) that user programs need not access.

5.11 Use of DGROUP in ASM Functions

Use of DGROUP in assembly language functions shall be avoided, in accordance with CA’s recommendations. Assembly functions written for NANFOR.LIB shall use a segment named _NanFor, as in the following example:

Public FT_ChDir
Extrn _ftDir:Far
Segment _NanFor Word Public "CODE"
 Assume CS:_NanFor
Proc FT_ChDir Far
 Endp FT_ChDir
 Ends _NanFor
5.12 Use of "Internals"

Use of CA-Clipper “internals” by code authors is allowed. However, should any code make use of an internal, i.e., a function or variable that is not part of the published CA-Clipper API, then that internal shall be clearly marked in the documentation (under “DESCRIPTION”) and in the actual code, everywhere the internal is used.

5.13 Procedures for compiling functions
5.13.1 Clipper

Clipper functions will be compiled under the current release of CA-Clipper 5.0, with the following compiler options:

/n /w /l /r

Note that neither line numbers nor debugging information will find its way into NANFOR.LIB, to keep the code size down. End users may recompile NANFOR.LIB with these options enabled if they want to view NANFOR.LIB source in the debugger.

5.13.2 ASM

Assembly functions must compile successfully under any MSDOS assembler capable of producing the proper .OBJ file. However, care should be taken not to use any macros or special syntax particular to one vendor’s assembler, because that would make it difficult for end users to recompile the source. The preferred assembler is MASM, followed by TASM.

5.13.3 C

C functions must compile successfully under any C compiler capable of interfacing to CA-Clipper. Obviously, Microsoft C, version 5.1, is the preferred development environment. Care should be taken, when writing C code, not to use any special compiler features particular to one vendor’s C compiler, because that would make it difficult for end users to recompile the source.

5.14 Functions requiring other libraries

It is very easy to write functions in C that call the compiler’s standard C library functions. However, NANFOR.LIB can make no assumptions about the end user’s ability to link in the standard library or any other library. Therefore, no function will be added to NANFOR.LIB that requires any other third party or compiler manufacturer’s library.


6.1 Librarian

The librarian will be the person who rebuilds the library from the sources and uploads the resulting deliverables to the proper CLIPPER forum library on CompuServe. The librarian generally does *not* test code or edit source code to repair formatting errors.

6.2 Documenter

The documenter is responsible for maintaining the Norton and guides and keeping it in sync with each new release.

6.3 Referees

Referees are volunteers who read source code, clean it up, compile it, look for problems like potentially problematic C code, decide on which function is best, consolidate common functions, etc. They make sure the header and documentation blocks are present. There is no election or term for refereedom. One simply performs the task as long as one can and bows out when necessary.

6.4 Transitions

Not everyone will be able to stay around forever to keep working on this project. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each referee, documenter, or librarian to announce as far in advance as possible his or her intention to leave, in order to give everyone a chance to come up with a suitable replacement. Don’t let it die!


Current contributors, directly and indirectly, to this document include:

Don Caton [71067,1350]
Bill Christison [72247,3642]
Robert DiFalco [71610,1705]
Paul Ferrara [76702,556]
David Husnian [76064,1535]
Ted Means [73067,3332]
Alexander Santic [71327,2436]
Glenn Scott [71620,1521]
Keith Wire [73760,2427]
Craig Yellick [76247,541]
James Zack [75410,1567]


  • In Harbour library file name of NanForum Toolkit is hbnf.a
  • Maybe some functions :
    • obsoleted,
    • used some low-level hardware access or some OS specific features,
    • so not included in hbnf library.

== Exactly equal


 Exactly equal--binary                           (Relational)

     <exp1> == <exp2>




     <exp1> and <exp2> are expressions of the same data type to be


     The exactly equal operator (==) is a binary operator that compares two
     values of the same data type for exact equality depending on the data
     type.  It returns true (.T.) if <exp1> is equal to <exp2> according to
     the following rules:

     .  Array:  Compares for identity.  If <exp1> and <exp2> are
        variable references to the same array, returns true (.T.); otherwise,
        false (.F.).

     .  Character:  Comparison is based on the underlying ASCII code.
        ASCII codes for alphabetic characters are ascending (e.g., the code
        for "A" is 65 and the code for "Z" is 90).  Unlike the relational
        equality operator (=) , true (.T.) is returned if <exp1> and <exp2>
        are exactly equal including trailing spaces; otherwise, the
        comparison returns false (.F.).  SET EXACT has no effect.

     .  Date:  Dates are compared according to the underlying date
        value; behaves the same as the relational equality operator (=).

     .  Logical:  True (.T.) is exactly equal to true (.T.), and false
        (.F.) is exactly equal to false (.F.).

     .  Memo:  Treated the same as character.

     .  NIL:  True (.T.) if compared to a NIL value; false (.F.) if
        compared to a value of any other data type.

     .  Numeric:  Compared based on magnitude; behaves the same as the
        relational equality operator (=).

     .  Object: Treated the same as array.


     .  These examples illustrate how the == operator behaves with
        different data types:

        // Character
        ? "A" == "A"             // Result: .T.
        ? "Z" == "A"             // Result: .F.
        ? "A" == "A "            // Result: .F.
        ? "AA" == "A"            // Result: .F.

        // Array or object

        aOne := { 1, 2, 3 }
        aTwo := { 1, 2, 3 }
        aThree := aOne
        ? aOne == aTwo           // Result: .F.
        // values within the arrays are equal, but the arrays,
        // themselves, are separate and distinct
        ? aOne == aThree         // Result: .T.

See Also: $ < <= <> = (equality) > >=

: Send


 Send--binary                                    (Object)

     <object>:<message>[(<argument list>)]




     <object> is the name of the object that is to receive the message.

     <message> is the name of a method or instance variable.

     <argument list> is a list of parameters that are passed to the
     specified message.  The parentheses surrounding the argument list are
     optional if no parameters are supplied in the message send.  By
     convention, however, parentheses distinguish a message send with no
     parameters from an access to an exported instance variable.


     Each class defines a set of operations that can be performed on objects
     of that class.  Perform these operations by sending a message to the
     object using the send operator (:).

     When a message is sent to an object, the system examines the message.
     If the object is of a class that defines an operation for that message,
     the system automatically invokes a method to perform the operation on
     the specified object.  If the class does not define a method for the
     specified message, a runtime error occurs.

     Executing a message send produces a return value, much like a function
     call.  The return value varies depending on the operation performed.


     .  In this example, myBrowse is the name of a variable that
        contains a TBrowse object reference.  pageUp() is a method that
        specifies the operation to be performed.  The available operations
        and corresponding methods vary depending on the class of the object.
        The Error, Get, TBColumn, and TBrowse classes are documented in this


     .  This example forces the checkbox state to true (.T.):

        myCheck : Select (.T.)

Overview of OOP

Overview of Object-Orientation

“After years of relative obscurity, object orientation appears to be entering the mainstream of commercial computing for both software developers and end users. A shift to object orientation is occurring simultaneously across a wide range of software components, including languages, user interfaces, databases, and operating systems. While object-oriented programming is no panacea, it has already demonstrated that it can help manage the growing complexity and increasing costs of software development”.


                – from Object-Oriented Software by

                               Winblad, Edwards & King

This quotation is an excellent summary of what is happening in the world of computing today. Although exciting research and development is taking place on many fronts, no single software topic currently enjoys as wide a scope or impact as object orientation. Some of the most advanced and powerful software products available today incorporate object orientation as a central concept: languages such as Smalltalk, C++, and Actor; leading edge minicomputer databases such as Ontos and Servio Logic’s Gemstone; expert system development tools such as Neuron Data’s Nexpert Object and Level 5 Object from Information Builders; and graphical user interfaces (GUIs) such as Microsoft Windows, as well as UNIX GUIs such as Open Software Foundation’s Motif, and Sun Microsystems’ Open Look.

Although object orientation applies in slightly different ways in each of the areas mentioned above, the same basic concepts are being applied in each case. Because of its broad scope, the term is often misused, especially in marketing claims; indeed, articles have been written on this subject, such as “My Cat is Object-Oriented”, by Roger King of the University of Colorado.

This abuse often arises from the fact that object orientation in user interfaces is not easy to define clearly, and it is through user interfaces that end users encounter object orientation, usually without realizing it. Some vendors assert that their products are object-oriented merely because they use screen windows – the windows are objects, the argument goes, and therefore the program is object-oriented.

This is perhaps an extreme of misrepresentation, but the situation is complicated by in-between products such as Microsoft Windows. At both the user interface and programming level, Windows is object-oriented in many ways, but in other ways falls far short of being “fully” object-oriented.

The aspect of object orientation which Class(y) addresses is that of object-oriented languages. The features required of an object-oriented language are well defined, and existing language products set something of a standard in this area. Once familiar with the principles of object-oriented languages, it becomes much easier to differentiate between true and false claims about object orientation in other areas.

One of the main driving forces for the adoption of OOP is likely to be the need to produce programs that run under graphical user interfaces such as Microsoft Windows. This means that changing from procedural to object-oriented programming may involve changing not just the language being used, but the operating environment, resulting in an extremely steep learning curve.

While GUIs promise to make life easier for the end user, they will only make it harder for the programmer, unless we are prepared to change our programming style. Writing programs with a completely object-oriented architecture simplifies development for GUIs, since the program architecture reflects the architecture of the underlying environment.

Although we cannot write Microsoft Windows applications using standard Clipper just yet, we can prepare ourselves by starting to develop object-oriented programs. This will allow us to climb the learning curve gradually, rather than suddenly being forced to learn a new programming style as well as the complexities of event driven programming in a GUI.

We’ll start our climb of the learning curve with a brief look at the history of object-oriented languages, followed by an introduction to object-oriented concepts.

Brief History of Object-Oriented Languages

The concept of an object class and inheritance, central to object-oriented languages, was first implemented in the language Simula 67, an extension of Algol 60 designed in 1967 by Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard from the University of Oslo and the Norwegian Computing Center (Norsk Regnesentral). Although Simula, as it is now called, is a general purpose programming language, it is not in wide usage.

A major milestone in the development of object-oriented languages was the Smalltalk research project at the Xerox Corporation’s Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC). Starting in the early 1970s, the Smalltalk project, initiated by Alan Kay, had as its goals more than just the development of a programming language; rather, a complete integrated environment was the goal, including an object-oriented language, development tools, and a graphical interface. The standard components of modern graphical user interfaces, such as windows, icons, and the mouse, were pioneered at Xerox PARC.

The Smalltalk language itself was the first ‘true’ object-oriented language in that it dealt exclusively with objects. All subsequent object-oriented languages have been based on the concepts used in Smalltalk. Smalltalk was important, not just for its language, but for the development tools available in the Smalltalk environment. These include class browsers and object inspectors. A class browser is a very powerful tool which allows program code to be edited in a much more convenient and structured way than with conventional editors. Because of the inherently well-defined structure of object-oriented programs, the class browser is capable of displaying a given program’s class hierarchy in graphical form, allowing the user to ‘point and shoot’ to select a particular method (procedure) to be edited. Many programming tasks become menu driven, such as the creation of new classes, modifying the structure of the inheritance tree, and modifying the structure of a class. These operations are more complex and tedious when performed in a traditional editing environment.

Tools such as these are an integral part of the promise of object-oriented technology. They can simplify a programmer’s life, reducing development time and costs. Although they are a rarity in the DOS world at present, as the move toward object-oriented technology grows, and as we move towards GUIs like Microsoft Windows, these tools will become more commonplace.

What is an Object?

One of the fundamental reasons that object orientation is enjoying such success as a programming paradigm is very simple: the real world is made up of objects. An invoice is an object. A stock item is an object. A balance sheet is an object. An entire company is an object. Objects can contain other objects (this is called composition); and in this way complete systems can be constructed using objects.

But what is an object from a programming point of view? Simply put, it is a collection of related data, which is associated with the procedures which can operate on that data.

By this definition, most well-structured programs could be said to contain objects. This is another contributing factor to the confusion surrounding the definition of object orientation.

It is in fact possible to write programs in an object-oriented way in many traditional procedure-oriented languages. However, without the support provided by an object orientated languages, many compromises have to be made.

An object-oriented language formalizes the relationship of the data within an object to the program code which can operate on that data, by requiring that the compiler or interpreter be informed which procedures are allowed to operate on an object’s data.

Before we can clarify our definition of an object further, we need to explore a few other concepts.

Classes, Instances and Instance Variables

In any given system, many objects will exist. Many of these objects will be very similar to each other: for example, you might have thousands of invoice objects stored on disk. Although each one is different, they all share a common set of attributes. The same operations are valid on all of them. There is a term to describe such a collection of similar objects: it is called a class.

A class can be thought of as a template, or specification, for creating an object. The class itself consists of details specifying what the structure of its objects should be. The class can also be said to ‘contain’ the program procedures which are permitted to operate on objects of that class.

For example, an Invoice class would contain procedures for printing and updating invoices. It would also contain details of the structure of an invoice object, for example that each invoice object must contain variables named date, customer, amount, etc.

To look at it another way, we can define an object as an instance of a class. A given class may have many instances of itself (objects) in existence at any one time. Each of these instances has a structure determined by the class to which it belongs, but they are distinguished from each other by the data within that structure, which is stored in instance variables. The term instance variable distinguishes a variable that belongs to an object class from the ordinary stand-alone variables that we are used to. Instance variables are contained within objects, and are not directly accessible outside of those objects, although they can be accessed by sending messages to their objects.

Messages and Methods

Earlier, an object was defined as a module containing both procedures and data. An object’s procedures are known as methods. This terminology helps to distinguish them from procedures which are not associated with an object, since there are fundamental differences. In a fully object-oriented system such as Smalltalk, there are no procedures, only methods. In a hybrid system such as C++, or Clipper with Class(y), both methods and procedures can coexist.

Methods are not called in the same way that procedures are. Rather, messages are sent to objects, which respond by executing the appropriate method. All valid operations on or using the data in an object are defined by its methods, so all operations on an object are accomplished by sending messages to the object. Because of this, it is not necessary for other objects to access, or even know about, the internals of foreign objects. Objects behave like black boxes: send them a message, and they respond by executing the appropriate method. Send the print message to an invoice object, and it will respond by printing itself. This black box approach is known generally as encapsulation, and while it is possible to achieve in procedural systems, object-oriented systems actively encourage, support and enforce it.

Inheritance – Superclasses and Subclasses

Common properties among groups of classes can often be combined to form a parent class, or superclass. For example, it might make sense for a Quotation class, an Order class, and an Invoice class to all share the same superclass, a Sales Document class. The Quotation, Order, and Invoice classes are thus subclasses of the Sales Document class. This is known as inheritance. The subclasses inherit all the properties of their superclass, and may add unique, individual properties of their own. This concept can be extended further, with subclasses of subclasses. Such class hierarchies are a common feature of object-oriented systems.

Inheritance is one of the most powerful features of object-oriented programming, since it allows reuse of existing code in new situations without modification. When a subclass is derived from a superclass, only the differences in behavior need to be programmed into the subclass. The superclass remains intact and will usually continue to be used as is in other parts of the system, while other subclasses are using it in different ways.


The term polymorphism in this context refers to the fact that the same message, such as print, can result in different behaviors when sent to different objects. Sending the print message to a graph object has a different effect than it would on a balance sheet object. With a traditional procedural approach, the programmer is forced to differentiate procedure names, using names like PrnBalSheet and PrintGraph. In an object-oriented language, this differentiation is unnecessary, and in fact unwise.

Polymorphism has benefits for the programmer in that the same name can be used for conceptually similar operations in different classes, but its implications go deeper than that. It means that a message can be sent to an object whose class is not known. In a procedural system, given a variable of unknown type, a CASE statement would typically be required to test the type of the variable and pass it to the correct procedure for the desired operation. In an object-oriented system, a message is sent to the object with no testing, and the object responds accordingly.

This has important implications for inheritance, since it means that methods belonging to classes near the root of the inheritance tree do not need to know details of the subclasses which may be inherited from them. By sending messages with standardized names to the objects with which it deals, generic methods can be written which can later be used with any class which supports the required messages.

Anton van Straaten


 This article borrowed from manual of famous Clipper 3tdh party Library : CLASS(Y)


HB New Data types & Syntaxes

Data type & Syntax extensions in Harbour

In addition to Clipper’s scalar ( Character, Number, Date, Logical, MEMO, Nil ) and complex ( array, CodeBlock )  data types; Harbour has extended data types: pointer as scalar and object and hach as complex type.

For standard data types please refer here and/or here.

In database files (tables) data types of fields are predefined in structure of table.

For extended field types please refer here.

For data items other than fields (such as variables and manifest constants); in general, type of data  determined automatically by system, when assigning a value. The first basic way of this, is assigning a “literal” value.

For a working sample about constants please refer here.

cString := "This is a string" // A character string enclosed by a string delimiter
nNumber := 123.45 // A numeric value combined digits, decimal point and a sign ( + / - )
lTrue   := .T. // A T (tYy) or F (fNn) letter enclosed by two periods (.)
aArray  := {} // Arrays can be assigned literally by enclosed with curly brace

In addition to this basic literal value notations, Harbour has also extended notations:

– Data Types determined by special prefixs

— 0x… : Hexadecimal constant

  nNumber := 0x0A  // 0x prefix implies the string as Hexadecimal String  
                   // and type of resulting value become as Numeric (N) 
  ? nNumber, VALTYPE( nNumber ) // 10 N

— 0d… date constant

    dDate_1 := 0d20121225  // 0d prefix implies the string a date string 
                           // ( instead of using CTOD() )
                           // and type of resulting value become as Date (D) 
    ? dDate_1, VALTYPE( dDate_1 ) // 25.12.2012 D

– Special literal string formats

— d”…” : Date constant

dDate_2 := d"2012-12-26" ? dDate_2, VALTYPE( dDate_2 ) // 26.12.2012 D

— t”…” : Time constant

tTime_1 := dDate_2 + t”01:31:06″

? tTime_1, VALTYPE( tTime_1 ) // 26.12.2012 01:31:06.000 T

— e”…” : Escape sequences

Escape sequences are used to define certain special characters within string literals.

( Prefix by “\” escape sequence codes within that string )

The following escape sequences are available in C and C++ language :

sequence Description            Representation

   '     single quote          byte 0x27
   "     double quote          byte 0x22
   ?     question mark         byte 0x3f
         backslash             byte 0x5c

         null character        byte 0x00
   a     audible bell          byte 0x07
   b     backspace             byte 0x08
   f     form feed - new page  byte 0x0c
   n     line feed - new line  byte 0x0a
   r     carriage return       byte 0x0d
   t     horizontal tab        byte 0x09
   v     vertical tab          byte 0x0b

   nnn   arbitrary octal value byte nnn
   xnn   arbitrary hexadecimal value byte nn

   unnnn arbitrary Unicode value.
          May result in several characters. code point U+nnnn
   Unnnnnnnn arbitrary Unicode value.
           May result in several characters. code point U+nnnnnnnn

Note that all sequences not available in Harbour.

For the new complex data type Hash, there is a literally assigning way :

hHash := { => }    // => sign indicates the hash



* Data Types determined by special prefixs

** 0x... : Hexadecimal constant

nNumber := 0x0A // 0x prefix implies the string as Hexadecimal String 
// and type of resulting value become as Numeric(D)
? nNumber, VALTYPE( nNumber ) // 10 N
** 0d... date constant 

 dDate_1 := 0d20121225 // 0d prefix implies the string a date string 
                       // ( instead of using CTOD() )
                       // and type of resulting value become as Date (D) 

? dDate_1, VALTYPE( dDate_1 ) // 25.12.2012 D
* Special literal string formats
** d"..." : Date constant
dDate_2 := d"2012-12-26"
? dDate_2, VALTYPE( dDate_2 ) // 26.12.2012 D 

** t"..." : Time constant
tTime_1 := dDate_2 + t"01:31:06"
? tTime_1, VALTYPE( tTime_1 ) // 26.12.2012 01:31:06.000 T

** e"..." : Escape sequences 

? e"This is\na string\nformatted by\nEscape sequences \x21

/* The result : 
This is
a string
formatted by
Escape sequences !
@ MAXROW(), 0 WAIT "EOF DTS_Exts.prg" 
RETURN // DTS_Exts.Main() 

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ DTS_Exts