Welcome to Paul Robinson's home page on the Free Pascal Wiki!
Hi, I'm Paul. I have been programming in Pascal for over 40 years, and using Free Pascal for over 20. I consider myself to constantly be learning, and discovering new things. I will be 60 years old in 2020.
Why do we use computers? Well, presumably we use them
- to do things we can't without them
- to make things easier to do, and
- to automate mundane tasks.
But, to be able to do any of these things, the tools must be accessible and usable. Accessible means capable of being obtained. Most compilers are accessible, either being free or (in now rare cases) paid for. Free compilers (and assemblers) used to be considered toys. Today, compilers such as GNU's GCC and Free Pascal are world-class compilers, as good as professional-grade compilers because they are professional grade. What is "professional grade"? A "professional grade" compiler is one in which a journeyman programmer of ordinary skill and talent could reasonably use over an ordinary time-frame to produce applications capable of solving real-world problems. Free Pascal fits that definition. And an expert could use it to do amazing things.
Being free provides a huge advantage, but if you can't figure out how to use the language, it doesn't matter if it's free, you won't use it. (Lots of open-source applications on SourceForge.org might be downloaded, but are never used because they can't be used, either they no longer work (they're written using a scripting language like PHP and the syntax has been changed in later releases), or they lack adequate documentation. The language has to be usable.
There is a really great, really powerful programming language you've probably never heard of, called APL, probably the most powerful programming language ever developed. But, despite there being good documentation, APL's cryptic syntax, unusual strict right-to-left evaluation, and very steep (if not near-vertical) learning curve makes it unsuitable for everything but niche usage. Which is a damn shame.
Thus, usability is not just important, it is imperative, if not critical, and that's where this wiki comes in. Making it easy to figure out how to use the Object Pascal language makes it easier to do so, and encourages its use more than alternatives such as C++ or Java. (Free Pascal does not really compete in the same sphere of influence as scripting languages such as PHP, Python, or Ruby on Rails.) Free Pascal is a compiled language, and its strength is probably either in server-based applications where a web server is not the appropriate target, or in desktop applications. But to write those applications, people have to know how. Pascal's clean and easy-to-understand syntax have a definite advantage over the cryptic and often misused syntax of C/C++ or even Java, which is sometimes referred to a C++ with some of the "more dangerous" parts cut off. Pascal has many strengths as a programming language, and this wiki can help to demonstrate them.
I am also user Rfc1394 on Wikipedia, where I have been a veteran editor for over 10 years, having edited thousands of entries on thousands of pages.