Clipper still exists?


Clipper was a widely used language in the 1980s and even through the 1990s. Especially in some countries like Brazil. In fact many administrative systems still used today were made in it. But is it still possible to develop modern software using it?

asked by anonymous 13.12.2014 / 20:15

2 answers


Fatal Destiny

The Clipper , that product created by Nantucket and bought by Computer Associates, was discontinued in development around 1996. It was still marketed for a long time and until recently it was still possible to buy it from a third party who made a deal with CA.

Clipper had its fatal fate when CA developed the CA-Visual Objects which was the most modern, oriented Clipper the object, a bit lower level and with a full IDE. The product was poorly developed despite some very interesting ideas and was a complete failure. Part of the problem is that Clipper programmers failed to understand some differences in the new language that was similar to the old one but not completely compatible (which also contributed to the failure).

So they did not have an interesting new product and the old one was abandoned. They did not believe it could improve the old one and that there were still people interested in it. It helped that the product did not make much success in major markets.

But the product was good, had interesting innovations and did some things that were only found in successful languages many years later.

Some clones of the language that were already a clone of the simplified dBase database language appeared.

A hope arises

The great success, if you can call it that, happened with the Harbor , a < in> open source compatible with Clipper. Developed in 1999.

In addition to giving developers full freedom by not having a company but a community behind it, an automatic upgrade has been gained since a 16-bit C compiler was created in the 1980s by any other modern compiler C 32 bits, and later 64 bits. Running on virtually any platform that has a C compiler (some with a bit of effort). In a way Harbor codes are transformed into C-codes, generating executables always.

In addition, language extensions have been created maintaining compatibility with legacy code and many new libraries have been developed, such as GUI ( Qt is just an example), sockets, compression, new data structures and algorithms, encryption, images, Unicode, XML, clients for various relational databases or other technologies, better access to the operating system, better ways to access your own ( dbf ), multi-thread and much more.

The language has extensions that allow object orientation very similar to that adopted by other dynamic typing languages, has gained pointers (which are actually references), hash structures (which actually are not actually hashes , is, Harbor staff is bad at naming), for switch , best literals, dynamic loading of code, compiled or not, and constructs that avoid using some legacy resources considered bad besides being easier to integrate with C code.

Some improvements have also been added to the preprocessor which is absurdly better than the existing one for C (not having a preprocessor that is bad in C, it's having a bad one).

In addition, the compiler has improved some checks, and the entire infrastructure, in addition to the build, has been modernized.


It does not mean that we will see new programmers using language that does not owe almost anything to more modern languages, but those who have legacy code or are well adapted to technology can still evolve their software by using something would surprise PHP, Python, Ruby, JavaScript programmers, etc.

I just do not understand why there are still programmers who still continue to use the original Clipper, sometimes an old version of the 1980s.

So despite having people who still use it, you can not use it directly (16 bits !!!). What you give is to use the modernized version. There is a better way to use the same technology. Not only Harbor, there are other alternatives to Clipper (I do not know them well), such as xHarbour (a semi-banded fork of Harbor), xBasse ++, FlagShip, FoxPro (abandoned by Microsoft), AdvPL in Totvs ERP Protheus).

13.12.2014 / 20:15

In the 1990s I made some applications in DBaseIII-Plus, Dbase IV and Clipper, preferring Clipper to the DBase (s). But with the appearance of Microsoft Windows and Clipper running only in DOS environment, I opted for FoxPro, but I did not like it and I left Clipper.

In the meantime, for the last three years, I have discovered Harbor and enjoyed the way it is structured and its potential, including the portability of applications for * NIX (BSD, Mac, Linux, etc.) applications beyond traditional Microsoft operating systems relational databases beyond traditional DBF files, creation and use of GUI's, etc.

After starting the development of a management application for an association, I soon chose to move from Harbor to Python, for several reasons:

  • Development in Harbor was slower than in Python;
  • I started to notice that it would be harder to keep the code in Harbor than in Python;
  • Although Harbor was already stable, there were still some uncertainties on the way Harbor would take;
  • The Python community is larger and offers more support possibilities than the Harbor community.
  • To this day I do not regret the choice I made.

    Note that Harbor is "open source" while xHarbour is the owner.

    21.12.2014 / 10:25