So what is Vision BASIC? Firstly, hold on to something in case you faint! It is the end result of something I started over twenty years ago. It is BASIC on steroids! It is the BASIC someone should have whipped up long, long ago! And when nobody else stepped up to create the "perfect" BASIC, I embarked upon a journey into an unknown wilderness of bits, bytes, nybbles and POKEs to somehow make it happen. It was an impossible mission on many levels for I wasn't entirely sure that I could pull it off. But I followed my vision. And now, at the end of this journey, I'm delighted to tell you that at the end of endless miles, I reached my destination. Vision BASIC was born!
So what can you do with Vision BASIC? Pretty much anything you want to. Speed will no longer be a problem! Why? Because on it's own, Vision BASIC is VERY fast! But when you need to crank out even more speed, all you need to do is insert machine language anywhere you wish to. Yes, you can actually type machine language instructions right next to BASIC commands! You won't need to load in external machine language files, and you won't need to poke machine language code to memory. This is because Vision BASIC also doubles as an assembler – you can write BASIC programs with it or machine language programs with it, or a blend of the two!
Vision BASIC also includes a whole new batch of commands to help you realize your programming dreams! Need sprites? Vision BASIC's got you covered! Need sound and graphics? Yep, gotcha covered there too! Vision BASIC was designed to greatly minimize your need to POKE around with all those crazy registers. In fact, you might never need to POKE again! And if you find yourself needing a command or function that isn't available, you can simply create it yourself – by creating the needed subroutine and calling it by whatever name you choose to give it. These "user defined" commands and functions can be saved into separate files and added to your programs whenever you need them!
I designed Vision BASIC to retain that familiar C64 editor "feel" we've all become accustomed to, and most commands work pretty much as you'd expect them to, though several have been improved upon. You will probably have to make some tweaks to existing programs to get them to work properly in Vision BASIC. This is because Vision BASIC is a compiler and some of its differences lend themselves to better speed. Unlike other compilers, you typically won't have to leave Vision BASIC in order to run your programs. You type your programs in the editor and execute them from there as well. And once compiled, you won't need Vision BASIC to hang around in order for them to work – unlike how it is with your typical BASIC expansion.
So what's the catch? Well, you'll need at least 256K of extra RAM in order to run Vision BASIC. Only REU RAM and SuperCPU expanded RAM are currently supported at this time. If you don't have any such RAM, there are a few modern cartridges currently being sold that provide an emulated solution (like the 1541 Ultimate II+). C64 emulators like VICE also support REU emulation (and this option's free). But once you have crafted a program in Vision BASIC, you typically won't need an attached REU in order for your software to run, so you should be able to execute your programs on any stock C64 machine without issue (once compiled to disk).
C-64 BASIC might be your GO TO language of choice, but we all know how POKEy it can be, so if you're tired of starting out with a dream of an idea and ending up with a sluggish nightmare when all is said and done, then look no further – Vision BASIC is here to the rescue to turn your dreams into a reality! From the start, Vision BASIC was always a vision of what BASIC could be. Now that the shackles of limitation have been removed, dig deep within yourself, unleash your imagination and let me ask you, "What is your vision?"
In my testing, the accelerators above improved compilation speed between 10 and 20 times the normal speed. The Turbo Chameleon and SuperCPU ran about the same speed (closer to that bottom end), and the Ultimate 64 had the most impressive speed results. The VICE emulator may perform even better (in "warp" mode), but this depends on your version of VICE and the limitations of your PC's hardware.
Vision BASIC was designed to work with standard floppy drives (including properly emulated ones) and will attempt to load components in from the same device that was used to load the main program (and only from devices 8 to 11).