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Subject: PSION Series 3/3a palmtop FAQ part 5/6

This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:22:55 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: psion-faq
All FAQs posted in: comp.sys.psion.announce, comp.sys.palmtops
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Archive-name: psion-faq/part5 Version: $VER: Psion FAQ v2.6 Posting-Frequency: monthly URL: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/8130/faq.htm
part 5 See part 1 for complete table of contents of this FAQ (including this part's). 7. THE EMULATOR Psion, in their great generosity, have released their Psion emulator for the Series 3 and later on for the Series 3a. This is a PC product. Also please note that it is completely *unsupported* by Psion and do not ask them for new versions, other platforms, etc... I think that it was quite nice of them to offer their users (and potential users) such a nice tool. We wouldn't want it to stop, would we? The files are available as usual in the IC archive in the development directory. 7.1 Limitations & bugs The following limitations & bugs were reported: * The keyboard is only "British" and doesn't accept your regular keyboard map (either use one of the techniques described in the "Can I change the keyboard?" section or see below for a more permanent way around this problem); * No sound; * The system screen "loses" your configuration each time you launch the emulator; * It only works in DOS with 4Mb RAM and at least a 386 processor; * Caps lock works but doesn't show the symbol like on a real Psion; * Shift diamond key doesn't work; * It doesn't accept direct keyboard scan codes - this is mostly used in games. 7.2 Tips & tricks * Alt+Ctrl+shift+S makes a screen snapshot and automatically increases the screen number in the file (unlike the real Psion); * Alt+Ctrl+shift+C shows some memory parameters (useful for development); * Ins key on the numeric keypad (0 key) switches between applications like Shift-System button on the real Psion; * If you replace the 480 by 160 in the HHSERV.PAR file by 640 by 480, you will get a complete screen on your PC. 7.3 Changing permanently the keyboard mapping (by Uwe Kallmeyer) The keyboard map is held internally in the file EPOC.DLL. You must thus patch this file to suit your own keyboard. It contains three tables, one for Psion/Ctrl keys, one for shifted keys and one for normal keys. These tables start at locations (for the file dated 4.12.94, size 94736): Psion/Ctrl $35D8 Shift $33D8 Normal $32D8 8. PROGRAMMING 8.1 Overview of development possibilities There are a number of ways in which you can program the Psion. Choose the one which fits your abilities, requirements, and budget. 8.2 OPL programming directly on the Psion This is the most straightforward. If you can live with the cramped keyboard and screen, you can pursue this option with no further outlay, anywhere you can take your Psion. If you haven't got the OPL Programming Manual, I suggest you order it. It's really a great manual (unlike most others I've seen). If you are impatient to receive it, it's also available online at: http://www.primate.wisc.edu/people/dubois/psion/oplman/ Some alleviators: 1. A database of the OPL commands is available from the IC archive (see section 5) which you can load into the built-in DATA application. 2. Switching off the clock in the OPL editor will give you more active screen width. CONTROL/menu toggles this. 3. CONTROL/Word takes you straight to the OPL editor from the system screen. 4. Get OPP from Andy Clarkson. This is really *the* programmer's tool for programming directly on the Psion. It allows you to have exactly the same functionnalities as with Psion's S3ATRAN and even more directly on your Psion! 5. Get OPPDebug from Andy Clarkson. This is a fine debugger for OPL. Psion haven't written one themselves, so this is a must for all serious programmers! You can also make use of some of the data which follows in this section, so read on. 8.3 OPL programming from a PC You can compose your OPL text files on your PC and send them down to the Psion with the link for translation, or you can obtain S3ATRAN from the IC archive (Section 5). S3ATRAN will translate your OPL source into .OPO format which you can then use the link to move to the Psion. In addition to translating simple OPL, S3ATRAN understands a number of C-like pre-processor commands, which make source preparation easier. As well as this advantage, source preparation on a PC allows use of the full-sized keyboard and screen, use of whatever text editor you favour, convenient storage and archival of important source code, and access to printers. It also allows you to make bigger programs since you are not limited to a 64k source like on the Psion. For those using windows, you can use Psion's Opl Development Environment (ODE) which is a *very* nice programmer's tool for developing OPL in windows. ODE is commercial. There is a Psion 3 emulator for the Series 3 and another one for the Series 3a, both available in the IC archive, which allows you to run OPL programs on the PC. For more details, see elsewhere in this FAQ. The "Psionics files" are a collection of information for the OPL programmer who wants to know more than is in the programming manual, but who doesn't want the expense and effort of getting the SDK. They include general explanations of system concepts, descriptions of all the system calls usable from OPL, information about some useful device drivers, and random other useful items. Much of the information is taken from the official Psion SDK manuals, with permission. Clive D.W. Feather is widely appreciated for having taken the time to bring this information to the Psion community. You can get the latest set of files (which change quite frequently), from the WWW site. See that section in the FAQ for the address. Psion offer Software Development Kits - "SDKs". The lowest level is the documentation-only level. This currently includes two large ring-binders which document vast amounts of detail about the Psion. Though much is of prime relevance to C programmers, a lot of essential information can be gleened by the astute OPL programmer. System calls, file formats, transmission protocols, OS structure etc. are all to be had. The SDK costs 75 UKP. See the contacts section if you want to order it. 8.4 C Development on PC The second level of SDK (see above) is called the "Standard SDK". It includes the documentation mentioned above, and some software on floppies. The software comprises the TopSpeed C language system, an interactive Psion debugger, some customisation files, and some examples. This costs 155 UKP. "TopSpeed C" is a general purpose development environment and C compiler. You can use it to write C programs for your PC, and the development environment allows you to add other language compilers. Psion's customisation files taylor TopSpeed C so that it can generate image files which will run on the Psion. The Psion debugger allows C programs to be debugged. Debugging can be done at the C source code level, or at assembly language level, or in a mixture of the two. The debugger also allows programs to be run locally on the PC in a form of Psion emulator, or run on the Psion itself through the serial link. A slew of very useful features are included in the debugger. Psion also provide some example programs which are referenced in the manuals. Going through these with the manual is a good way to learn about the Psion and the best way to program on it. The SPY application is amoung the examples included. It is theoretically possible to write C programs for the Psion using other compilers, but extensive expertise would be needed to avoid the pitfalls. For example, Topspeed C implements parameter passing in a way which is compatible with the Epoc operating system. Object-oriented programming is possible in this C environment. 8.4.1 Can I use another compiler than Topspeed? (by Dan Ramage) "It is impossible to write sibo applications with anything but the sibo sdk for several reasons. Topspeed can output small memory model code staying within the 64k code and data segment. In addition, Topspeeds calling conventions don't use the segment registers (which can really mess up your psion). Another reason is that topspeed code is compact and executes quickly on sibo machines." 8.5 Advanced C Development on a PC The highest level of SDK is the "Professional SDK". This adds the source code of various device drivers to the Standard SDK. It costs 295 UKP. 8.6 Available books (by John A Watson) In order of complexity, the following books are available. 1. First Steps in Programming the Psion Series 3 by Mike Shaw, 14.95 GB ISBN 0-7457-0145-0 An introduction to the basic principles of programming. 2. Graphic Programming on the Psion Series 3 by Bill Aitken, 14.95 GBP ISBN 0-7457-0156-6 As the title suggests this is for those interested in graphics. 3. Serious Programming on the Psion 3a by Bill Aitken, 16.95 GBP ISBN 0-7457-0035-7 (Series 3) ISBN 0-7457-0282-1 (Series 3a) A complete OPL programming tutorial from basics to advanced especially graphics including sprite design. 4. Machine Code Programming on the Psion Series 3a & 3 by John Farrant, 16.95 GBP As the title suggests this book tells you how to program in 8086 machine code and assembly language. The price/package includes a fully functional two-pass assembler with text editor and debugger. 5. Introduction to Using the Psion Series 3 by Ros Lawton & Isaac Davis, 14.95 GBP ISBN 0-7457-0146-9 14.95. 6. The 100 Most Frequently Asked Questions for You and Your Psion Series 3a & 3 by Richard Bloss & Adam Taylor, 9.95 GBP ISBN 0-7457-0300-3 8.7 How to do various things: tips & tricks (Thanks to Andrew Baldwin for material) 1. First - reading the programming manual which came with your Psion more than once is thoroughly recommended ! 2. REVTRAN - is a reverse translator available at the archive. It turns OPO modules back into OPL - though variable names may be lost. This program allows developers to see how others have implemented their programs, and this may give valuable insights into useful programming techniques. Please note that you should not use REVTRAN to circumvent protection mechanisms, to avoid paying shareware fees, to steal programs or fragments thereof, or to do anything else illegal or anti-social. Some OPL programs are protected against reverse translation (with the help of OPP for example). 3. SPRITES - the manual doesn't make it clear. You can have only one sprite. You must emulate any further sprite functionality in OPL. 4. MULTI-DIMENSIONAL ARRAYS - are not provided in OPL, but they can be emulated. For example, a two dimensional array: ARRAY%(X%,Y%) may be implemented by declaring ARRAY%(Z%) (where Z%=X%*Y%). You can now access element (a%,b%) as ARRAY((b%-1)*X% + a%). Each access requires arithmetic so this will incurr a speed penalty. OPP, the OPL preprocessor, implements this (exactly like described) but with complete transparency to the programmer. 5. SPEED - OPL can get slow. Here are some ideas for speeding them up. + Where does your program spend the most time ? Find out, and concentrate on those sections. It's pointless speeding up code segments which will not impact overall speed significantly. + The use of floating point numbers is very slow; the Series 3 calls code which emulates a floating point processing chip. Major gains can be had if you avoid floating point numbers. Often integers can be used with a mental shift of the decimal point. + BUILT-IN FUNCTIONS like SIN can also be very slow. Sometimes it is preferable to build a table of answers and use a look-up strategy. + On the Series 3a, make use of the procedure cache, which can keep often-used procedures in memory - thereby avoiding a heavy time penalty for loading them in. On the Series 3 there is no cache to use, but you can place the procedure code inline to avoid the overhead. There will be a readability/complexity overhead to trade off. + Use gUPDATE to restrict screen updates, as detailed in the manual. + OPL allows the programmer to call machine code routines, which can be highly optimized for speed. These can be built from C programs using the SDK, or with an assembler (available in the archive). Programming at low levels requires extensive knowledge of the Series 3 Operating System. During development crashes are common, and data loss may well occur. Also note that re-implementing a code segment at a lower level will not necessarily give significant speed improvements; it depends on what the code is doing. 6. Various + The manual states that you can only load up to 3 modules with LOADM, whereas it is 7 really. A. SHAREWARE/FREEWARE SOFTWARE Please note that the software described here is just a small part of available software and that it would be impossible to track down every single share/freeware Psion program. If there is a program which you would like to see added to the list, please write a mini review in the same style as these here and mail it me. I'll gladly add it and give you credit! Just some guidelines if you wish to submit a mini-review: mention the author (and Email address if possible), the exact filename and the type of program (free/share/cripple) as from the list below. Do not write more than 2-3 sentences and do not mention any "this is great" or "this is bad" comments, thanks! If you want to know more about these programs, you may want to check out my Psion programmer's on the web list at: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/8130/prgers.htm or alternatively, check out Steve Litchfield's review section at: http://3lib.ukonline.co.uk A.1 Applications I've used the following definitions below. These may not accord with their standard meanings as used elsewhere. Shareware a fully functional program is provided, but the user is asked to pay for it. Crippleware as shareware, but the functionality of the program is restricted in some way to encourage registration. (This may not make it unusable - ANY restriction puts a program in this category.) Freeware the fully functional program is given away free. It is probably still copyright to the author and conditions may be imposed on redistribution. GNUware the program is distributed under the GNU General Public Licence: among other things, this means it will include source code. Note that when ``*'' appears, this means the version number. New version come out very often, so I can't track down each program. The following people have contributed their reviews (see the first part of this FAQ for their Email addresses): Roger Burton-West (RBW) Andy Clarkson (AC) Steve Litchfield (SL) Neil Masson (NM) Daniel Pfund (DP) * APPMAN: Jeremy Wakefield jezar@cix.compulink.co.uk: freeware (RBW) For the advanced OPL programmer only, how to use those cascading dialogues and other flashy features of the built-in apps. Challenging but very useful. * BATCHK: Pelican software: freeware (SL) Shows you the state of your batteries in a one-screened pretty display. Even shows the state of the battery in RAM SSDs! * CALC3A*: Richard Schmidt 100735.331@compuserve.com: nagware (RBW) Not to be confused with all the other calculators out there! Solid and stable scientific calculator, including editable preset equations. A little bulky, but very impressive. * CMDP: Psion, Inc.: freeware (RBW) DOS-style command line interface for the 3a and Workabout. Handy if you like command lines (I do). Slightly quirky. * CON3A: Tim Bentinck: shareware (SL) A comprehensive units conversion utiility. Allows every conversion under the sun, and a few more. * DUMP3A: Wolfgang Schirmer 100022.1371@compuserve.com: freeware (RBW) Elderly but still useful hexadecimal/ASCII file editor. Perfect for inspecting and modifying binaries, finding resources, etc. * DPBANK*: Daniel Pfund Pfund3@uni2a.unige.ch: shareware (DP) A small and very easy to learn and set up bank accounts tracker. Lacks all the bells and whistles of the "big shots" but uses much less memory. * DRAW: Rick Andrews: shareware (SL) Painting and drawing application. Its basic function is to let you create PIC files for use as icons or in slide-shows or in your own programs etc. Allows PCX import/export. * EIKON: Roger Burton West rburtonw@nyx.cs.du.edu: freeware (RBW) One of a great many icon editors available - essential for anyone writing applications, or just customising the look of the system shell. Yes, this one is my own; it has more features than the competition, it's faster than most, and it's free. * FE830: Psion, Inc.: freeware (RBW) Hex/ASCII file editor for the PC, optimised for TLV files. Needs some technical knowledge, but invaluable for data recovery from corrupted files. (An internal tool used by Psion themselves, I gather.) * FIREPIC: Andrew Baldwin baldwina@cix.compulink.co.uk: freeware (RBW) Picture viewer. Nothing special there, but this one will read and write PCX files as well as PICs; further DYLs may be written for other formats; and it's being used by an increasing number of art packages. * FONT*: Steve Godfrey stevegodfrey@cix.compulink.co.uk: crippleware (RBW) Edits Psion fonts. You can use them in your own programs, but not in the built-in apps or for printing. * JBDAT*: John Boyce jboyce@cix.compulink.co.uk: freeware (RBW) Replacement for Data, with much better functionality. Needs lots of memory, but much more useful than the standard app. * JBFND*: John Boyce jboyce@cix.compulink.co.uk: freeware (RBW) Searches files (even open files) for a text or hex string, and can auto-launch files that match. * JBLAUNCH: John Boyce jboyce@cix.compulink.co.uk: freeware (NM) Provides a single icon under which you can launch any program. * JBSTOPGO: John Boyce jboyce@cix.compulink.co.uk: freeware (NM) Stops all your programs before a backup and restarts them afterwards. * JBTREE: John Boyce jboyce@cix.compulink.co.uk: freeware (SL) Allows you to browse round a Psion disk, tagging and deleting, viewing or moving files. Lots of extra features too, such as viewing the space that could be reclaimed on a flash SSD. * INSTALL: Psion GmbH: freeware (NM) Provides configuration for your Psion, so that your system layout can be restored after a reset. (DP:Only works correctly with english type Psions!) * LOTTERY3: freeware (SL) This application will run a complete simulation of thousands of years playing, just for you, showing how often you would have won (or, more probably, lost) during that time. * MACSYS: Tom Dolbilin tdolby@prairienet.org: freeware (RBW) The Macro System allows automation of most common Psion tasks. It can record and play back a sequence of keystrokes: but macros are actually full OPL programs, and can use all the power available to the system. A little tricky to master, but very rewarding. Several macros are available on the Net as separate files. * MAP*: Steve Litchfield slitchfield@cix.compulink.co.uk: shareware (RBW) Huge geographical information system with multiple overlays. Maps of the UK, Ireland and London are available (separate registration). NOT a route finder, but handy for general information and basic town plans. * MEMOVOC: David Joyce djoyce@cix.compulink.co.uk: shareware (DP) Instead of typing memos into your Psion, you can now speak them! Allows for hands-free recording triggered by a loud sustained sound. * NOTEPAD: Pelican Software: shareware (NM) A useful note-taking utility with links to other Psion applications. * OPP*: Andy Clarkson 100661.2440@compuserve.com: shareware (NM) This is an OPL pre-processor with various C-like features, such as #defines, includes, 2D arrays. Makes OPL much more readable. See also section "Programming" for more info. * OPPDBG: Andy Clarkson 100661.2440@compuserve.com: shareware (AC) For OPL programmers. This is a run-time source level OPL debugger. Shows which lines of OPL code are being executed. Examine and set values of local variables in the running program. Requires the separate OPL preprocessor utility (OPP 1.4F). * PASON (NM) Switches password protection on overnight. I use my Psion far too often to put up with entering a password every time I switch it on. * PICPRINT & PRINTPIC (SL) Two small utilities which allow printing from a PIC graphics file (for example, a screen-dump of a spreadsheet) to an Epson or Canon BJ printer. * PIEDIR (NM) Gives a graphical representation of where your precious memory has gone. Can do files only or can sum all the space under directories. Also shows space recoverable on a flash by formatting it. (DP:still quite buggy, but a new version should come out soon.) * PLAN: Andy Clarkson 100661.2440@compuserve.com: crippleware A project planning application. You enter task and resource details and dependencies between tasks. Plan will then work out the schedule for each task and the project as a whole (includes Gantt and Pert charts, interface to Microsoft Project,...). * READER* and TCREADER: Barry Childress 73510.1420@compuserve.com: nagware (RBW) Probably the best text file viewer for the Psion, with many display options and good buffering. TCReader is a PC program to compress text files that Reader can view on the fly; it usually manages about 50% reduction in size. * RFM110: Psion, Inc.: freeware (RBW) TSR to mount Psion drives over serial link to a PC, allowing normal PC software to access them. Old and sometimes unstable, but still my favoured serial comms package (even over RCom/PsiWin). * RVTRN*: Mike Rudin mrudin@cix.compulink.co.uk: freeware (RBW) Extremely useful package to convert translated OPL programs back to source code, in case you've lost the source or want to see how someone else did something. Controversial, and some programs have anti-Revtran "traps". * SAIKAN: Jamie Packer jamie@bristol.st.com: freeware (author) A Japanese character (kanji) dictionary. Supports searching by reading, meaning, stroke count, radicals, JIS code, etc. Displays comprehensive information on 6,355 (JIS X0208-1990) characters. (NB: requires about 1MB of disk space.) * S3ABANK*: Alan Richey alanrichey@aol.com: crippleware (RBW) An excellent general personal finance handler, with optional modules for inventories, expenses, petrol, etc. Shareware version is severely limited (only 3 accounts). Needs lots of memory. Alternatives are available; easier to use and less power/memory hungry, but not as complete: BankPlus, DPBank, SCBank. * S3AEM1: Psion, Inc.: freeware (RBW) Series 3a emulator for the PC. Try before you buy a Psion, test new software, or run programs at greater speed. See also "Emulator" section in part I of this FAQ. * S3AFRAME (NM) Supplies an event-driven interface to OPL. Menu selections and key presses are supplied as events to your OPL code. * S3UZIP*: David Palmer dpalmer@cix.compulink.co.uk:freeware (himself) Port to SIBO machines of Info-Zip team's Unzip. Runs on MC400/HC/S3/S3a/Workabout. Unzips any version 2.xx zip files, including across a remote link (the fastest way to move files to a Psion). Versions >= 1.4 include notes for developers on how to call Unzip from C/C++ or OPL. * SHELL3A (NM) Gives a UNIX-like command line interface. This is particularly useful for creating directories and removing files, where the Psion menu interface is rather clumsy. Not the least of its virtues is the fact that it understands filenames using forward (/) slashes as well as back (\) slashes. * TOPIX: Uwe Kallmeyer uwek@yedik.escape.de: crippleware (RBW) Multi-level outline editor, with links to files from other apps (such as Word or Sheet). Perfect for large project management and keeping track of long lists. * TUBEFINDER: Steve Litchfield slitchfield@cix.compulink.co.uk: freeware (SL) A simple routefinder for the London Tube system. It's not the most accurate and thorough program in the world, but then hey, it's free! A.2 Games (by Dan Ko) Name Stars Zip Exp Mem Type FMT Collection Description ------------ ----- ---- ---- ---- ---- --- ---------- ------------------ pipe3a.zip ***** 9k 10k 12k F F ? exciting puzzle stigma.zip **** 63k 87k 39k D+C F ? rolling ball fair22.zip **** 115k 197k 46k S+C F+S GamesPck3a THE golf game tetris_2.zip ***** 9k 16k 6k S F ? Tetris nuff said Patience *** - - 8k C R 1Mb/2MbS3a zzzzzzzz bunnies.zip ** 15k 42k ? F F slow platform lander3.zip **** 33k 62k ? S F+S GamesPck3a cool space game risk101a.zip ***+ 31k 81k 14k S F ? strategy willy11.zip ** 40k 68k ? S F doubt it 2slow2big platform Tanka.zip ** 9k 12k? ? S F S3 was much better Stars: Arbitary rating units, overall personal impression includes adjustment for size. * waste of space ** avoid; boring, limited appeal *** OK, if you've nothing better to fill your flash with **** excellent, recommended ***** can't live without it Zip: The zip file size Exp: How much space the installed components will take up Mem: Free system memory required to run in Type: S Shareware D Demo F Freeware/PD C Commercial Format: F floppy (ZIP file) S SSD R built into ROM Collection: Name of collection which contains this game End of part 5/6 _________________________________________________________________ [Go to previous part] [Go to the index] [Go to next part] _________________________________________________________________ All pages coming from http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/8130/ (and this is one of them!) are copyright 1996 Daniel Pfund. -- |\ |\ PSION specialists: http://www.planet-pfund.com | )|/ *--------------------------------------------* |/ | http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/8130/