We first met Rich Mellor at the QL Club International meeting in the Midlands in 1995. I had read a lot of the articles and reviews that he had published in the, now defunct, QL World and, as is usual when you know someone through the written word alone, I was unprepared for the man that I met.
It was not until I took down his name and address when he bought some software from us that I found out who this young and enthusiastic QLer was. During the course of the day he sat down with and discussed the Flashback database system which Steve Hall had been running under SMSQ/E. We were trying to get this program adapted to run properly under SMSQ/E and Rich offered to help do that. He proved to be a formidable associate. Having once set a target in his sights he nagged away at it until he achieved his purpose and in the course of doing that uncovered a numbers of bugs and inconsistencies in the behaviour of SMSQ/E.
Since we received very little co-operation from the Flashback side of things we have, sadly been unable to bring the product back onto the market place. In the meantime, Rich has managed to vastly improve the program and now sells this new version as an upgrade to the original Flashback SE program.
About twelve months after meeting Rich, we were offered a route finding program written in Atari Basic. We passed the project to Rich who attacked it with his usual vigour and soon was assaulting us with disks of Beta versions. Q-Route was born in 1997 and has proved a very popular program, with the latest version making use of the Extended Colour Drivers available under the latest versions of SMSQ/E.
It was at this point that he first mentioned this book. The bulk of the work here is his, although there have been contributions in the past from Franz Hermann and Peter Jaeger (both of whom have given their kind permission for the work to be published). It became obvious as I was printing this that we could not do it all in one volume and also that we had to provide it in loose leaf form, instead of as a bound book, so that we could easily provide updates as they become necessary.
The book arrived at the QBranch Headquarters on floppy disks and my EPSON printer worked overtime printing the final version. It was produced entirely using QL Software and Hardware. The copy was generated in Text 87 plus4 on a Minerva QL / Super Gold Card running under SMSQ/E. The final copy here was printed on an Aurora / Super Gold Card / SuperHermes / RomDisq machine to either an EPSON Stylus 200 Inkjet or an EPSON Stylus 850 Inkjet printer and the result passed to a local printers to produce the copy that you now hold. I hope that you will find this useful and informative and that it will inspire you to produce some elegant programming for the QDOS / SMSQ community.
Since producing the original version of this Manual, Rich has released Q-Help together with a broad range of other software under the guise of RWAP Services. Q-Help provides the basic detail of all of the keywords covered in this book, together with their syntax in an easy to use program. This can be linked with the Q-Index program which is supplied with this book to form the ultimate cross-reference guide to the QL’s BASIC. Q-Help forms a welcome companion to this manual and is especially useful if you are travelling. The Sinclair Spectrum is now enjoying something of a revival, following the re-release of its games for use with the Amstrad E-m@iler phone. The future of the QL is also looking increasingly rosy (well at least colour-wise), since the release of SMSQ/E v2.98+ which supports up to 16 million colours on the Q40, QXL and QPC2 systems. The day when the QL can access the internet and email is also now at hand. We hope that this will keep people more interested in the QL and its software.
We shall attempt to keep the manual up to date as much as possible with current developments in the QL world, as new emulators and QL compatibles are released. If you have any further information which you feel should appear in this Manual, then please let us have full details in order that it may be of benefit to the whole QL community.
I am sure we will hear more of Rich Mellor in the future.
Roy Wood, Q Branch HQ, Portslade, Sussex 2002.
Since the above Foreword was written, the SBASIC/SuperBASIC Reference Manual has been enhanced through 4 different update releases, and proved a best seller despite the 2 large A4 volumes with over 1000 pages of information on the QL and its SuperBASIC.
Since then, the Manual was re-released in PDF format and has now, in recognition of the 30th Anniversary of the launch of the Sinclair QL, been converted to HTML and put onto the internet to be updated as a QL Community Project.
I still continue to support the Sinclair QL, its emulators and clones, ensuring a constant supply of parts and second hand items through my own website www.rwapsoftware.co.uk and through my own retro and vintage computer trading website www.sellmyretro.com
The manual appears here in all its glory, with the bulk of the conversion having been automated, but awaiting community input to improve the layout and add new entries to the Manual.
Rich Mellor, RWAP Software, Stoke-on-Trent, 2015
Online Edition Foreword¶
When Rich put the HTML version online and asked for volunteers to tidy it up, maintain it etc, lots of people didn’t step forward! I was one of the ones who did and spent many a happy lunch hour downloading pages, stripping out the invalid HTML, adding paragraph tags, converting listings to the correct format etc etc. The results were uploaded by Rich and a nicer, or at least, tidier, version began to take place.
This colourful version is the result of some playing with a product called Sphinx-doc on my Linux box. It takes files in the format of Restructured Text - basically, a plain text file containg your data and markup commands - and from those, builds all sorts of output such as epub, pdf and the HTML you are reading right now.
I hope you like it. It takes a long time to get it just right.
You can see the original source for each page by clicking the link ‘View page source’ at the top right of each page.
Norman Dunbar, Dunbar IT Consultants Ltd, Leeds, West Yorkshire, 2015/2016