The beleagured UK software industry still has a few flags to wave, and one area where UK efforts are beginning to be matched by market acceptance is in the use of programming language translators – which have started to find a healthy market for users seeking to move from DEC PDP-11s to Unix. One of the latest and largest projects to emerge is at London-based Cornerzone Ltd, where MS Associates’ C-Gen translator is in use during development of a new system for typesetting applications in a variety of industries. Cornerzone, a company set up just last June to manufacture and market the system, is planning to translate some 3,000 programs during the development, which will result in a system that integrates the management and production side of the typesetting process with the handling of text and high-resolution graphics. Cornerzone itself is financed by the Vantage Group, which produces systems for a variety of typesetting applications and ranging from book production to newspaper advertisements, largely aimed at advertising agencies. Of the 3,000 programs being moved across from the previous PDP-11 based, RSTS Basic+ systems, some 2,400 are of a significant size according to Cornerzone director David Fleetwood, and the Basic code forms the management and production side of the new system. This will integrate with the software for the graphics system, which is being written in C and assembler – and Cornerzone has adopted Kingston, Surrey-based benchMark Technologies Ltd’ GIP graphics processor, for which it is writing microcode. At dhe heard of the production system is the Fairchild/Intergraph Clipper chip, which also forms a computing resource for other functions.
Indexed sequential file access
Fleetwood reckons the system is unusual in its integration of the management and text and graphics functions, which is aimed to speed throughput by, for instance, scheduling jobs and transparently loading them for processing by users of the graphics system. The company looked at the three main contenders in the UK translator market; the Systime product was rejected because it didn’t produce C code, while in weighing up Bourne End, Buckinghamshire-based MS Associates CGEN-BP against Datavision’s Universe, Cornerzone was impressed not only by the professional approach and support of MS but also the ability to accomodate the MISAM indexed sequential file access method used on the PDP-11s – which is being replaced by a version of MS’s ISAM. Initially, a 180-program subsystem has been translated by MS, which is now complete and running. This will be used as a teaching ex-ercise to show our people how to use CGEN, according to Fleetwood, and the next 200-program batch is being handled by Cornerzone staff on a machine at MS premises. Future work will be done at Cornerzone with telephone support. Having opted for the Basic-to-C translation route, Cornerzone is nevertheless likely to continue writing programs in Basic – due to both the in-house Basic experience and the fact that staff still consider it a faster language for developing business applications.
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