Roger Mathew's TAS Page

This page may be of interest to users of the TAS-Professional database management system, version 3.x in particular. TAS is not as well-known as the heavily-marketed products like dBASE or Paradox, which is a pity, because it is a very effective, relational DBMS, written by the author of Sensible Solution and dbFast. I still use it, and, as well as custom systems, have written several programmers' utilities which I sell to other TAS programmers.

My TAS utility software is still available, though I do not market it aggressively. Click on one of the following for a list or email me for further details.

TAS Tools Lists: [Dos programs] [TAS programs] [assembly routines]
Narratives: [About TAS-Professional]  [TAS Pro 5] (updated 16 Feb 98) [TAS Pro 6 & 7] (updated 18 Feb 11) Random jottings (tips)

Roger Mathew's home page.

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About TAS-Professional DBMS

Brief History

TAS-Professional evolved from a budget-priced (originally £99) programmable relational DBMS, called TAS-Plus, incorporating a Data Dictionary and a syntax-assisted program editor for its extensive procedural language. TAS-Plus used a proprietory file format, with separate data and index (key) files. There was a multi-user version available.
TAS-Professional (version 3.xx and above) uses the BTRIEVE file manager, originally developed by Softcraft, subsequently bought and distributed by Novell, as its data engine. This resulted in faster and more robust file management than was afforded by TAS-Plus. The programming language was slightly different and more robust than TAS-Plus's. It also offered an assembly-language interface, which is handy for extending the TAS language to do things not built into TAS. The current (April 1997) release is TAS Pro version 5.1, which has some support for MS Windows. I have, at present, only a passing acquaintaince with this version, so the blurb that follows relates to TAS Pro 3.xx. Versions 4 and 5 make greater use of BTRIEVE's facilities than did version 3, and support IEEE numeric formats.
Both TAS-Plus and TAS-Professional were written by Phil Mickelson and are trademarks of his firm, Business Tools Inc. Phil also wrote DBFast, a semi-compiled Xbase implementation. He had previously written a DBMS called Sensible Solution, and those familiar with that program will see some similarities between it and TAS.
TAS was marketed in UK by Megatech, who used it as the data engine for their TAS Books user-configurable accounting system. This was originally released under TAS-Plus, and later rewritten to run under TAS-Professional. As far as I know, Megatech no longer supply TAS as a standalone database product - a pity, in my view, as it had a lot going for it - and (also as far as I know) TAS Books is no longer available with source code for those brave enough to reconfigure it for their own purposes.

Technical Overview of TAS Pro 3.xx

TAS application source code is semi-compiled to a runtime file (.RUN extension). This method results in compact runtime files which reference TAS.EXE for their actual execution code. The major benefit of the method is that the runtime files do not have to carry the overhead of assembly routines common to the TAS DBMS itself: this overhead is carried just once, in the TAS.EXE file. TAS.EXE itself is large, and occupies a significant proportion of the 640k available to conventional MSDOS programs. TAS-Professional offers the programmer considerable flexibility of coding, including a facility to extend the built-in functions with hand-crafted assembly code modules. Competent programmers can generate robust, user-proof runtime database applications quickly, using the development tools supplied to generate core modules for further development.
TAS came with a full set of development tools, mostly written in TAS itself, including program generators and a very clever source code editor that led the programmer via cascaded menus through the business of crafting and editing source code. Those familiar with Sensible Solution will recognise this approach. There were a few things that were difficult - as with most languages - but often these could be programmed in TAS to make life easier for the programmer. I did a fair bit of this sort of development in the '80s, and released several of the utilities that I had written in the first instance for myself.

Source Code Styles

Two flavours of source code are recognised by the TAS compiler: the source code editor supplied generates tokenised source code (.EDT file extension) which enables the editor to offer its clever syntax-assisted user-interface. There were some limitations, not least the poor readability of the tokenised code for programmers who preferred their own favourite editor.
Alternatively, plain ASCII code could be used: TAS source code in this form (.SRC file extension) has a function-like syntax with comma-separated parameters. This coding style is person-readable, but not recognised by the TAS editor: thus the very useful syntax-assistance is lost by programmers who use conventional ASCII code editors. Another drawback of the TAS editor is that its capacity is limited to programs of about 1000 lines. It was also rather slow, being written in TAS, which is not well-optimised for the byte-level operations needed to handle what are essentially wordprocessing applications.

One of my projects was to write an alternative TAS program editor in C++, with syntax assistance similar to the TAS editor, but generating ASCII source code for readability and ease of subsequent program development and maintenance. I also took the opportunity to improve on the factilities offered, especially in the screen-painting module.

TAS-Pro Versions 4 and 5

I did some beta testing of early pre-release TAS Pro 4, which had some useful extensions to the language and (as far as I can remember) support for IEEE numeric format for floating point. I was uncomfortable with some of the style changes, however, so did not change my systems. More recently, I have looked at version 5.1, which is both DOS- and Windows-compatible, and I finally bought it in January 1998. The language has evolved considerably, with a good set of mathematical functions and use of the 32-bit "flat" memory model, which overcomes many of the limitations inherent in version 3.x. Tokenised source code has been dropped, and the editor supplied has acquired some of the features of my TAS-Prof source code editor, TED II. Notwithstanding this, several people have asked me to update TED II to handle version 5 source. For various reaons, not least some very difficult technical problems, this project - dubbed TED 5 - is on hold: watch this space for developments, but don't hold your breath! 

TAS-Pro Version 6

I eventually stopped developing TED 5: the game wasn't worth the candle. There is now (March 2004) a version 6 of TAS that I understand has much better support than 5.1 had for Windows. I have not used it myself yet. I also understand that Phil Mickelson has now stopped further development and that Computer Accounting Solutions are picking up where he left off. They also have a lot of add-ons for TAS.

TAS-Pro version 7

There are now at least two versions of TAS 7 and development continues. These are fully Windows-compliant systems and there is a migration path from previous TAS versions.
Two firms, ADDSUM Business Software Inc and Computer Accounting Solutions have taken up the task where Phil Mickelson left off. More information is available from their web sites.
I have now retired, so have very little experience with these latest TAS versions.
There is a TAS forum on Delphi.
For programmers still using TAS 3.xx, I have written up some of my findings about data structures and "features" here.

Watch this space for more information about TAS when I have a little more time to write.

Any TAS users - and especially TAS-Prof programmers - who stumble upon this file are encouraged to email me with further information for this page, suggestions for new links or just to say hello.
Updated 18 Feb 11. [ Top of page ]


Roger W Mathew
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DOS Programs (.COM or .EXE)
Program Description Price
TEDPROF Fast TAS source code editor for ASCII style (.SRC) code. Like TASEDPRG, but generates ASCII code. Written in C++ for SPEED! Supports colour screen painting, field moves, array field cloning and lots of bells & whistles. For TAS-Prof version 3.x only.
Superseded by TED II 
see TED II
TED II A major upgrade of TEDPROF, incorporating menued field- and filename selections, further enhanced screen painting and compile-and-test. TED II is a complete development environment for TAS Prof 3.xx. 
TRAPHICS Business Graphics interface for TAS-Professional 3.xx. Bar, Pie and X-Y charts under TAS program control. For TAS-Prof 3.xx only.  £95
EDT2SRC Version 4.11. Convert TAS Editor format program source code files into ASCII format. Generates indented code for readibility. Ver 4.xx supports both TAS Plus (ver 2.07) and TAS Professional (ver 3.xx). £10 
SRC2EDT Version 4.0. Convert TAS ASCII program source code files into TAS Editor-compatible format. TAS-Plus ver 2.07 and TAS-Professional (ver 3.xx) supported. £10
TLF TAS Line Finder. Lists ASCII format TAS-Plus source code with RUNTIME line numbers. Display all or selected line numbers to screen, or use DOS redirect to print or disk file. £10
TASCHK Checker for TAS source (EDT or SRC). Detects unbalanced quotes, [] and () on any line and unbalanced structure start/end tokens in program. (TAS-Plus or Prof 3.xx.) £10
TASPAD  Preallocates disk space for TAS-Plus data files, which GREATLY speeds up creation of and access to large TAS-Plus data files. Not appropriate for TAS-Prof.  £10
TASLIST  List TAS-Plus file structure and contents directly. 8 optional command-line switches to allow selective listings. (TAS-Plus only.)  £10
RSCHK  Fix to make TAS-Plus ReStructure reliable. Comes with companion program RSCHOP. (TAS-Plus only.)  £15
TASKEYS  Display key lengths/offsets from TAS-Plus .K files without TASDICT definition. Invaluable when you damage your Data Dictionary. (TAS-Plus only.)  £10
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TAS Programs (.RUN) 
(supplied with TAS source code)
Program Description Price
FIXRS  Fix up TAS Professional's TASDICT so that ReStructure works properly with array fields. Package includes modified versions of MENU, TASDMGR and TASADFLE and PREFIXRS to sort out all your existing file layouts, as well as full documentation (TAS Prof 3.xx only.) £30
MG  Menu Generator (ver 2.0x). "Paint" TAS-style menus with up to 5 windows (PLUS "Exit"), and let the generator do the rest. 10 options per window. Windows and headings automatically sized and positioned. EDT or SRC code generated and compiled. Optional exit to DOS or chain to another TAS program. Definitions are saved to a file to allow quick changes to existing defined menus. Online help, and editing shortcuts. Lots of other bells & whistles. 
Separate versions for TAS Plus and Tas Professional (3.xx): PLEASE STATE WHICH IS REQUIRED. 
WG  Window Generator (ver 2.0x). Similar in concept to MG. Writes labelled source (EDT or SRC) for flash windows up to 23 rows by 78 cols - all you do is type in the text; then you can move the window where you want it - the underlying TAS screen is displayed whilst you push the window around. Window definitions are saved, allowing easy editing and regeneration. Full online help on every input. Current TAS-Prof version (2.xx) has improved wordprocessor-like window-painter and templated configurable output. 
Separate versions for TAS-Plus (ver 1.xx of WG only) and TAS-Prof (3.xx): STATE WHICH IS REQUIRED. 
TAS2ASC  Output TAS-Plus data files in delimited ASCII (for mailmerge). No need to write a special program for each schema. User interface is similar to "browse". 
NB Different compilations are required for TAS Plus and TAS Professional (3.xx): PLEASE STATE WHICH IS REQUIRED. 
TAS2FASC  Similar to TAS2ASC, but outputs in fixed-length ASCII format, undelimited, with no CR/LFs. 
NB Different compilations are required for TAS Plus and Tas Professional (3.xx): PLEASE STATE WHICH IS REQUIRED. 
FASC2TAS  The converse of TAS2FASC. 
NB Different compilations are required for TAS Plus and Tas Professional (3.xx): PLEASE STATE WHICH IS REQUIRED. 
COPYDICT  Copies TASDICT.? and TASFILE.? to NEWDICT.? and NEWFILE.?, with prompted selection of the files and layouts which you want copied. This purges the data dictionary of deleted records and unwanted references. (TAS-Plus or Prof ver 3.01 or later only).  £15
DM  Import file layouts from other TAS Data Dictionaries. (TAS-Prof 3.xx only).  £15
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Assembler Routines (.BIN files)
(for TAS-Professional ver 3.xx only)
Program Description Price
PRNTST  Checks that a printer is connected and online. Your TAS program can pre-empt and avoid the irritating DOS "Abort, Retry, Fail" error message. £20
DSKTST  Checks that a floppy disk drive is ready. Drive A or B can be checked within your TAS program to pre-empt the DOS default error handling. £20
CMDLN  Pass an argument into a TAS (3.xx) program from the DOS command line. £20

TAS-Professional is a trademark of Business Tools Inc. 
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TAS Tools Lists: [Dos programs] [TAS programs] [assembly routines] [About TAS-Professional]
Random jottings (new page, March 2004)
Email Roger Mathew.

Updated 18 Feb 11

Roger Mathew's home page.

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