A Question Of Style

By Chris Dewhurst

Originally published in EUG #51

Well done with EUGs #45 to #50 and sorry it's taken me a while to get back in touch with EUG. I do have a few suggestions to make though:

  1. This is a personal preference, but text is easier to read when left-justified only, and also when words aren't split over lines (except where they're hypenated anyway, as in "left-justified" just there).
  2. You say in the submissions section that paragraphs should be separated by a blank line, but not many are! I usually indent paragraphs which are part of the same section, and use blank lines between tables/concluding remarks, etc. And when I'm writing the instructions for games.
  3. I think it's a positive thing to use tab stops for neatness, provided they're padded out before submission. This is easy to do in View, by *SPOOLing out the text displayed with the SCREEN command, and then editing out the page breaks and the View A2.1 Bytes Free. Say we had a text file called 'rhubarb', then:
          *SPOOL rhubarb2
          READ rhubarb2
  4. What happened to the feature that could interpret View highlight code and present text emboldened/underlined (or was it bold and italics?)? I found this useful when referring to variable names, filenames and assembler labels. Not to worry though. I have stuck to my traditional method of putting them in single quotes, e.g. 'X%' or 'FILE1' or 'loop'. It just makes them easier to distinguish them from prose.
  5. Encourage readers to send in commentaries on variables, what the PROCedures do, and so on, as in Electron User. My philosophy is that users should know about the programs they are using - as opposed to money being made out of their ignorance as seems to be sadly the case in the modern PC world.

I hope my criticisms are constructive (as opposed to destructive!). One final thing is my surname's spelt Dewhurst and not Dewhirst! Aside from my nitpicking, keep up the good work on the magazine. If there's any trouble with my programs, let me know. The only problem I can foresee is compatibility with the Electron, as I write my games on a BBC Model B. Perhaps I should keep my eyes peeled for an Elk if I'm to take this seriously!

Christopher Dewhurst

All the text files on the EUG disks are in the View word processor format and read in with special code written by Richard Dimond. When a word gets split over a line, this is really just due to how the text is transcribed when put on disk. Typed directly in this way without justification avoids soft spaces, and does much the same as the SCREEN command. (That this formatting causes blank lines when the code is shown in Mode 6 is a problem currently being worked on.)

There were previously rather dated details on How To Submit to EUG in the information file. The EUG text is now presented as it is because the three-space-in for a new paragraph and first word of a section in CAPITALS is what retro magazines like Electron User always adhered to. It's part of the move towards a more professional publication but if there's a chorus of disapproval, it will be rethought.

The highlighted text looked very nice on screen but tended to cause problems with certain printers, which substituted lots of upside down Us (or printed nonsense characters) for each control code they encountered. As text written without them can then also be *TYPEd if necessary, I had to take a decision whether to write printer drivers or dispense with the control codes. I chose the latter.

The last suggestion is certainly a nice idea and would help those new to BASIC computing to pick up a few programming tips without wading through User Guides and Reference Manuals. Although it relies on readers writing structured programs! Usborne Software published two professional adventure programs in paperback books containing the most horrible code imaginable. There was a bug in the version EUG entered and, despite days of comparison between the two, it still remains hidden!

Apologies for the misspelled name. It appears correctly in the EUG records and must have been a slip of the pen when addressing the disks!

Dave E, EUG #51