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M Technology and MUMPS Language FAQ, Part 1/2

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Archive-name: m-technology-faq/part1
Last-modified: 04/06/1999
Version: 1.9
Posting-Frequency: monthly

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
M Technology and MUMPS Language FAQ


This FAQ is copyright 1997 by Gardner S. Trask III.  All rights reserved.
Permission is granted for this FAQ to be redistributed provided:

    a) the redistribution is free, at no cost to the recipient;
    b) the redistribution includes the complete FAQ, without modification,
       including this notice;
    c) this FAQ is current, as determined by any of the following: it is
       less than 60 days old; or, it has been obtained directly from
       newsgroup comp.lang.mumps; or, you have queried the editor.

Post comments or suggestions to comp.lang.mumps or email to 
trask@world.std.com.

NOTE: This document contains URL's and addresses that were accurate at the 
time of the original inclusion. URL's and e-mail addresses change
however, and will (when notified) be reflected in Appendix 10.
So, if you wish to reach a contributor, confirm addresses there.

Editors: Gardner Trask, trask@world.std.com
         Jon Diamond, jdiamond@btinternet.com


Questions that need answers:
  
   -- Hierarchical / Relational / Post-relational: Where does M fit?
   -- Brief descriptions of specific, real-world, non-hospital applications;
   -- More information on performance/speed/benchmarks
   -- Concise descriptions or capsule commentaries on major M products,   
      strengths/weaknesses, as seen by users (not vendors).
   -- Should we include vendor white papers in the FAQ?
   -- What do we do to add to the FAQ?
   -- New Web Sites
   -- Notable Mentions for Appendix 9
   -- Anything about OMEGA
   

Changes since 1.8: 01/12/98

-- Some e-mail changes in part II
-- mondo typos.
-- addition of new section 34 - M as a web scripting language.

Changes since version 1.7: 11/01/97

-- Addition of Brett Hunt's comments to question 1 and 11
-- typos
-- email changes in part II


Sources/contributors/reviewers/participants:

Ben Bishop
Jon Diamond 
John D. Godfrey
Gavin Greig
Russell Haddleton
Brett Hunt
Scott P. Jones
John E. Kemker, III
Mark Komarinski
Jeff Loeb
Keith F. Lynch
Ed de Moel
Steve J. Morris
Kevin O'Gorman
Doug Preiser
Aaron Seidman
Kate Schell
Tilman Schmidt
Arthur B. Smith
Daniel P. B. Smith
Richard J. Tomlinson
Gardner Trask
David Whitten

Indirect Contributors: Those for whom postings and approved e-mail was included.

Ellis A. Bauman
Dennis J Brevik
Etienne Cherdlu
Floyd Dennis
Rod Dorman
Lev Jacob
Monika Kratzmann
Paul Perrin 




------------------------------------------------------------------------
Contents/Questions

[M FAQ - Part 1 of 2]

1. What is M?
2. Where can I get a no-cost version of M?
3. What is comp.lang.mumps?  How can I subscribe to it?
4. What are some books about M?
5. What do M programmers love about M?
6. What things about M are generally disliked?
7. Why is M called a "database language?"
8. Is M an RDBMS?
9. Is M compiled or interpreted?
10. How fast is M?
11. Does M support Microsoft Windows and other GUIs?
12. Are there any M magazines or journals?
13. Which is the "official" name, M or MUMPS?
14. Is M a mainstream language?
15. Is M useful for non-medical applications?
16. Is M object-oriented?
17. Is M structured?
18. Is M suitable for multiuser systems?
19. Does M work on LANs?
20. Is M standard?
21. Is M portable?
22. How does M compare to SQL?
23. How does M compare to BASIC?
24. How does M compare to X-Base?
25. Are there M-based 4GLs and application generators?
26. Are there M bulletin boards? M FTP sites? M WEB sites? M Newsgroups?
27. "What happened in 1841?"
28. How do I list a global directory on this unfamiliar M system?
29. Do comments really affect efficiency?
30. What is the MDC?
31. A Brief History of M.
32. How exactly does $ORDER work?
33. M as a first computer language
34. M as a web scripting language.


[M FAQ - Part 2 of 2]
Appendix 1: List of M Vendors
Appendix 2: The M Technology Association
Appendix 3. USA Local M Users Groups
Appendix 4: Is the official name of the language "M" or "MUMPS?"
Appendix 5: A "secret decoder ring:" highlights of the M language
Appendix 6: An example of "textbook" M coding style
Appendix 7: An example of "traditional" M coding style
Appendix 8: Mumps, A Solution Looking For A Problem, By Chris Richardson
Appendix 9: Testimonials, Accolades, and Articles from outside the community.
Appendix 10: Contact information: e-mail and URL's
Appendix 11: FAQ Change history




------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. What is M?

M is a procedural, interpreted general-purpose programming language
oriented towards database applications.  Its characteristic features
are:

- untyped variables, converted automatically between numeric and
  string;

- multi-dimensional associative arrays;

- persistent variables ("globals")

- good string handling capabilities: better than BASIC,
  not as good as SNOBOL4 (e.g. no full regular expressions;)

- "indirection:" can use strings computed at runtime as part of
  M program text;

- built-in multiuser/multitasking support.

     [Tilman Schmidt ed. DPBS]


Though M historically was a character-based, closed environment (it
seems to me that this phrase could apply to nearly every programming
environment that is more than ten years old), this can no longer be said
of more recent M implementations.  With the advent of ODBC, all
competitive implementations of M can now be accessed from tools that are
commonly available on PC workstations.

In addition, with the release of MSM-Workstation in 1996, by Micronetics
Design Corporation, M is now fully OLE compliant.  Previously, MSM could
be accessed as an OLE object via the MSM-API.  Now, M can also act as an
OLE controller through MSM-Workstation.  The same product allows the
developer to create M-based applications for MS Windows and MS Windows
NT that can be distributed royalty free.  M-based applications can now
be distributed as shareware.

The MSM suite of products from Micronetics continues to evolve with the
technology.  In 1997, MSM-PDQ/Web was released, providing easy access to
M-data via the Web.  Later the same year, access to MSM databases via
Java was made available as well.

In sum, M is no longer a character-based, closed technology.  To the
end-user, there is no visible distinction between an M-based
application, and a non-M application.  M is a powerful, dynamic	
technology which is now easily accessible to the most common workstation
and server environments in use today.

	[Brett Hunt, Micronetics, October 29, 1997]

M has many good points: high productivity, low hardware requirements, good 
scalability.  But M also has some weaknesses: low transaction reliability, 
character-based screens, poor integration with other environments, and few 
development tools. 

    [Thomas C. Salander, M Computing, June 1994, p.74]

M is a lousy language with one great data type.

    [Steve J. Morris]


   
                                     MUMPS
                                       
   
   
   (Or "M") Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming
   System.
   
   A programming language with extensive tools for the support of
   database management systems. MUMPS was originally used for medical
   records and is now widely used where multiple users access the same
   databases simultaneously, e.g. banks, stock exchanges, travel
   agencies, hospitals.
   
   Early MUMPS implementations for PDP-11 and IBM PC were complete
   operating systems, as well as programming languages, but current-day
   implementations usually run under a normal host operating system.
   
   A MUMPS program hardly ever explicitly performs low-level operations
   such as opening a file - there are programming constructs in the
   language that will do so implicitly, and most MUMPS programmers are
   not even aware of the operating system activity that MUMPS performs.
   
   Syntactically MUMPS has only one data-type: strings. Semantically, the
   language has many data-types: Text strings, binary strings, floating
   point values, integer values, Boolean values. Interpretation of
   strings is done inside functions, or implicitly while applying
   mathematical operators. Since many operations involve only moving data
   from one location to another, it is faster to just move uninterpreted
   strings. Of course, when a value is used multiple times in the context
   of arithmetical operations, optimized implementations will typically
   save the numerical value of the string.
   
   MUMPS was designed for portability. Currently, it is possible to share
   the same MUMPS database between radically different architectures,
   because all values are stored as text strings. The worst an
   implementation may have to do is swap pairs of bytes. Such multi-CPU
   databases are actually in use, some offices share databases between
   VAX, DEC Alpha, SUN, IBM PC and HP workstations.
   
   Versions of MUMPS are available on practically all hardware, from the
   smallest (IBM PC, Apple Macintosh, Acorn Archimedes), to the largest
   mainframe. MSM (Micronetics Standard MUMPS) runs on IBM PC RT and
   R6000; DSM (Digital Standard Mumps) on the PDP-11, VAX, DEC Alpha,
   and Windows-NT; Datatree MUMPS from InterSystems runs on IBM PC; and
   MGlobal MUMPS on the Macintosh. Multi-platform versions include
   M/SQL, available from InterSystems, PFCS <mumps@pfcs.com> and MSM.
   
   Greystone Technologies' GT/M runs on VAX and DEC Alpha. This is a
   compiler whereas the others are interpreters. GT/SQL is their SQL
   pre-processor.
   
   ISO standard 11756 (1991). ANSI standard: "MUMPS Language Standard",
   X11.1 (1977, 1984, 1990, 1995?).
   
   The MUMPS User's Group is known as the M Technology Association.
   
   Mailing list: MUMPS-L@UGA.BITNET.
   
   Usenet newsgroups: comp.lang.mumps, comp.std.mumps.
   
   (10 Jan 1995)
   
   [Submitted by: "Daniel P. B. Smith" Original Author unknown]


------------------------------------------------------------------------
2. Where can I get a no-cost version of M?

InterSystems DT-Student

MS-DOS implementation of M with capacity restrictions and a licensing 
agreement prohibiting commercial use. Documentation is on-disk and includes 
both an M language manual and a programmer's manual. Requests for copies 
should be made in writing by mail or fax to Tommy Smith, InterSystems 
Corporation, One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02042. Phone 617 621-0600, 
Fax 617 494-1631. DT-Student can also be obtained via anonymous FTP from 
/pub/dtstudent at openmsql.intersys.com; in URL format,

        ftp://openmsql.intersys.com//pub/dtstudent/

As of 8/94, it also appears to be available for downloading from the 
InterSystems BBS +1 617-225-0475, the NEMUG BBS +1 508-921-6681, and the 
MTA-NA BBS +1 301-942-5359.

[10/97] The ftp site listed for Intersystems DT-Student is no longer current.
        openmsql.intersys.com site has moved to ftp.intersys.com, but
        the student version seems not to be there.
        [per email from epc2@juno.com]
         


Micronetics MSM-Explorer

Call the MTA-NA office (not Micronetics) at +1 301-431-4070 to order a 
complimentary copy and to get information on other student versions. The 
address for Micronetics Design Corporation itself is: 1375 Piccard Drive, 
Rockville, MD 20850, 301-258-2605, fax +1 301-840-8943.

[10/97] Micronetics MSM-Explorer is available by anonymous ftp from
        ftp.micronetics.com in /misc/MSM/Explorer in files:
        EXP1.EXE, EXP2.EXE, LICENSE.MSM (needed beyond 10/31/97) and README.TXT.
        (move files to c:\exp and unpack)
        [per email from epc2@juno.com]



UCD MicroMUMPS

True public domain version. (8/94) Available for downloading from the NEMUG 
BBS +1 508-921-6681, and the MTA-NA BBS +1 301-942-5359  Also available for 
$xx from D-M Information Systems, 1403 Fifth Street, Box 1918, Davis, CA 
95617, +1 916-753-0362. There is no support. D-M describes the documentation 
as consisting of two READ.ME files. According to the author, this is not a 
full implementation of the current M, but is specifically intended for 
novices and is easier to use than the versions derived from commercial 
systems.  It is best used in conjunction with the book, "ABCs of MUMPS: An 
Introduction for Novice and Intermediate Programmers," by Richard F. 
Walters, Digital Press, 1989, ISBN 1-55558-017-3.  This book can be ordered 
from MTA-NA (see below).

------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. What is comp.lang.mumps?  How can I subscribe to it?

(11/94) comp.lang.mumps is a "USENET newsgroup." It was created in July, 
1994.  It is an unmoderated newsgroup; anyone can post messages to it and 
anyone can read all the messages posted to it.  The newsgroup's charter is 
given below.  The charter is what was voted on by the USENET community when 
the group was created.  As with all unmoderated newsgroups, the health of 
the newsgroup depends on goodwill, courtesy, and voluntary adherence to the 
spirit of the charter.  

Since its inception, comp.lang.mumps has been a friendly newsgroup with a 
comfortable volume, typically one to five messages per day.  Recent topics 
have included: M coding standards/practices/conventions; rumors about 
possible M vendor mergers; job postings; and inquiries about specific 
problems with particular M implementations. 

    CHARTER of comp.lang.mumps

    The proposed unmoderated newsgroup comp.lang.mumps will be
    open to discussions on almost all topics related to versions of
    the M technology and the M language (also known as MUMPS).
    Appropriate topics would include, but not be limited to,

        advocacy
        bindings to GUI platforms (M Windowing API)
        discussions of commercial products
        object-oriented extensions
        PC networking issues
        programming techniques
        tools

           etc.

    The only topic that is excluded is:

        discussion of the standard for the M (MUMPS) language, ANSI X11.1
        which should be discussed in the existing group comp.std.mumps.

Subsequent custom has established that informal discussions of standards-
related issues are very welcome in this newsgroup.  MDC members have 
suggested that they welcome informal discussions be conducted in 
comp.lang.mumps, while formal proposals should be posted to comp.std.mumps.  
It is also clear that the membership welcomes job postings and job 
information.

SUBSCRIBING TO COMP.LANG.MUMPS

There are different kinds of Internet access.  One common situation is a 
company that "has Internet access" via their internal e-mail system.  Such 
arrangements often are e-mail only; if so, you must use the "MUMPS-L 
gateway" access method described below.  Other sites have direct access to 
the USENET newsgroups.  This is common for academic and government sites, 
and commercial services. Find out whether your site has direct access to the 
newsgroups. If you have it, this is the best way to read and post to 
comp.lang.mumps.  

If you are on a typical UNIX host at an academic or government institution, 
one way to check is to type the names of the most popular "newsreaders" -- 
rn, trn, tin, and nn -- at the command prompt and see if any of them are 
installed.  If not, you probably do not have USENET access and should use 
the MUMPS-L gateway.  If you find that a newsreader is installed, consult an 
Internet-savvy colleague, system administrator or help desk for more 
information.

(11/94) Most of the commercial services, including America On-Line, 
CompuServe, DELPHI, and Prodigy now offer direct newsgroup access.  Details 
for CompuServe are noted below.

THE MUMPS-L GATEWAY

(8/94) Anybody with Internet E-mail can participate in comp.lang.mumps by 
making use of a gateway and mailing list provided by American University and 
BITNET.  Out of courtesy to the host organization, please use this method 
only if you cannot get access to comp.lang.mumps in any other way.

For those who CANNOT get comp.lang.mumps in ANY other way:

To receive MUMPS-L and comp.lang.mumps:

Send an e-mail message To: LISTSERV@uga.cc.uga.edu
The subject line doesn't matter.
The message text should consist of the single line: SUBSCRIBE MUMPS-L

Within a short time, you'll get an automated acknowledgement from
the list server confirming your subscription and giving other
information, and you'll start getting the comp.lang.mumps and MUMPS-L
posts.

To post a message to MUMPS-L and comp.lang.mumps:
Send an e-mail message To: MUMPS-L@uga.cc.uga.edu

IMPORTANT: NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE IN THE ADDRESSES.  To start and stop
subscriptions, you address the request to LISTSERV.

Thanks to:
   American University, for hosting and operating the gateway;
   Jim McIntosh, jim@american.edu, for administering it;
   Harold Pritchett, harold@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU, owner and administrator
         of the MUMPS-L list;
   and the BITNET organization generally.

COMPUSERVE

(1/95) Some users have advised making sure that you understand CompuServe's 
rates, terms, and conditions before using CompuServe to access 
comp.lang.mumps, as the charges may be higher than anticipated.  As of 
11/28/94, according to a CompuServe representative (Julie Borders), 
Newsgroup access is an "extended service" charged by the hour at the same 
rate as other extended services.  "To send Internet e-mail it is 
$.15 for the first 7500 characters and $.05 for each additional 2500 
characters.  It is the same rate to receive Internet e-mail." -- [DPBS]

(11/94) CompuServe now offers direct newsreader access to the Usenet 
newsgroups.  CompuServe subscribers may already using the MUMPS-L gateway, 
as described above.  If you are doing this now and are satisfied with this 
system, there's no need to change.

Here are the steps I took to read comp.lang.mumps on CIS.  Depending on 
exactly how you're set up (for example, whether you're using CIM), the 
details may be different for you, but everything should be clear once you GO 
USENET.

For me: the steps were
    I typed "GO USENET"
    I chose #6, "USENET Newsreader"
    I read some pages of warnings, disclaimers, and advice
    I chose #3, "Subscribe to newsgroups"
    I chose #1, "Subscribe to one known newsgroup"
    I typed "comp.lang.mumps" in response to the prompt "Newsgroup name"
    I typed "m" to return to the previous menu
    I chose #1, "Access your USENET newsgroups."
    It listed "comp.lang.mumps (18 articles) " as the only newsgroup 
      I'm subscribed to, then offered choices.
    I chose #3, "Read articles"

  --[DPBS]

  

------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. What are some books about M?


A review of Richard F. Walters' new book, "M Programming:
A Comprehensive Guide" (Digital Press, ISBN 1-55558-167-6) to
http://www.amazon.com:

   The book I've been waiting for. 

   M is a delightful applications language. Recently I've been struggling
   with C++ STL, trying to use the "map" container to get perhaps a tenth
   of the functionality you get from an ordinary M variable, and, believe
   me, I miss M.
   
   This is the M book we've all been waiting for, and it delivers exactly
   what it promises. It is, as the blurb says, "the only source M
   programmers at all levels need."
   
   The style and presentation reminds me a little of Stoustrup's book on
   C++: the organization and style are tutorial, but not elementary. It
   is up-to-date with the current standard.
   
   What I particularly admire about it, and what is all too rare in
   computer books (especially those written by professors of computer
   science) is that it displays an intelligent awareness of real-world
   commercial implementations of M. Too many books either describe a
   pure-standards abstraction on the one hand, or a specific vendor
   extension on the other. Walters identifies popular M implementations
   by name and calls attention to variations where appropriate. Like M
   itself, Walters' book is directed at real programmers trying to solve
   real problems in the real world.
   
   There are a few places where one can see that the book is an
   (extensive) rewrite of his older book, rather than a completely new
   work. I thought it was harder to locate the "argumentless DO" than it
   should have been, and I felt there should have been a coherent
   discussion in one place explaining the (historically weird) relations
   between the various forms of DO, and when $T is and isn't stacked.
   Similarly, it is disconcerting to see on page 199 that the "NEW"
   command is described as a "recent extension... not yet formally
   included in the standard." These are cosmetic problems that do not
   seriously mar the book I've been waiting for.
   
   [Daniel P. B. Smith]



The following books can be ordered from any M Technology Association.  
Contact them for prices.  In the USA, contact: M Technology Association, 
1738 Elton Road, Suite 205, Silver Spring, MD 20903. Telephone +1-301-431-
4070. 



MUMPS POCKET GUIDE - 1990 by Joel Achtenberg, revised by Thomas C. Salander  
(MTA item #2018)

A COOKBOOK OF MUMPS by David B. Brown & Donald H. Glaeser, D.Sc.(MTA item 
#2024)

Introductions and Tutorials:

M Programming: A Comprehensive Guide

 M Programming: A Comprehensive Guide is a complete update to ABC's of MUMPS

 While ABC's of MUMPS was an introduction for novice and intermediate M programmers, M Programming: A Comprehensive Guide, has a new section containing advanced material. This new section addresses features such as transaction   processing, networking, st
ructured system variables, and interfaces to other standards. Five new chapters have been added, covering an overview of M for readers familiar with other languages; M and the Windows environment; interaction between M and the underlying system; transacti
on processing; interfacing M with other standards; and error handling. Sections on interactive programming and futures have been extensively updated. M Programming: A Comprehensive Guide is an invaluable resource for everyone who is learning or using M.


M[UMPS] by Example

 Need to know how M can be used? Need lots of examples to show you how? M[UMPS] by Example is your answer!! This book can be used as a first step to explain the language elements, including the most current additions. Here you'll find out how to use the l
anguage and take advantage of its strong points. You will also be shown the spectrum of M -- from the very beginnings to the latest -- as well as developments that are currently being formulated. Created by Ed de Moel, past Chair of the MUMPS Development 
Committee (MDC), this book is up-to-date Information.


ABC's of MUMPS

 This book is no longer available.
 See the new title, M Programming: A Comprehensive Guide to order.

The Complete MUMPS

 This excellent book is both a learning tool and a reference manual. It explores the basics of M's unique file structure, using examples and exercises to demonstrate specific functions. The well organized appendices and index provide rapid access to speci
fic information needed to develop complex applications. The text includes functions of the 1990 standard.

Introduction to Standard MUMPS

 Subtitled: A Guide for the Novice, this work introduces beginning programmers to key aspects to M as a programming language and an operating system. Each chapter leads users through a series of exercises and follows with review questions based on the new
 material. Appendices include additional review questions and solutions to each chapter's mini-tutorials. This is an important starter' volume for anyone interested in the M language.

The MUMPS Handbook of Efficiency Techniques
 
 This handbook contains 125 ways to make M applications run faster, based on actual case studies of M installations over an 11 year period. Plus, this book contains code for a software package called ANALYZER that determines which M code is slowing down t
he programs within an application. If you need to finetune an existing application or create a new one, this book's for you!

Standard M Pocket Guide

 This is the must have pocket reference for any M programmer! Use this pocket-sized booklet covering the 1995 standard for a quick reference, or use it to refresh your understanding of the elements of the language. It's a practical guide for beginning and
 experienced programmers alike. And inexpensive enough to afford a copy for everyone!
 
M Programming Language Standard ANSI/MDC X11.1-1995

 This 1995 reference work contains a three section description of various aspects of the M computer programming language. Section 1, the M Language Specification, consists of a stylized English narrative of the M language. Section 2, the M Portability Req
uirements, identifies constraints on the implementation and use of the language for the benefit of parties interested in achieving M portability. Section 3 is a binding to ANSI X3.64 (Terminal Device Control Mnemonics).

How To Make A Computer Work For You -- An Introduction to the File Manager System

 Learn how to computerize your own information management needs with the power of VA FileMan. This introductory volume is especially well-suited for non-programmers who can learn how to design, edit, and retrieve database information. It's the perfect sup
plement to your VA FileMan documentation!

FileMan Database Management -- System User's Technical Manual

 Discover the uses and features that make VA FileMan today's database management system of choice. You'll learn the basics and advanced concepts about data input and retrieval options, database setup, programmer tools, and the data dictionary.
 
FileMan: Database Manager User Manual Volume II

 The VA FileMan manual introduces two different groups of people to the VA FileMan database manager: those with newly acquired interest in learning about advanced database managers; and experienced database managers. Volume II covers advanced database the
ory and practice to provide a comprehensive reference for the non-programmer user of VA FileMan.
 
 MDC2
 
  MDC Type A Document Collection: Extensions to ANSI/MDC X11.1-1995
  Aren't you wondering how the NEXT ANSI Standard will be different from the 1995 Standard? Well, the answer is Now Available. The documents in this collection are approved by the MDC as proposed enhancements and extensions to the current ANSI Standard, A
NSI/MDC X11.1-1995 M Programming Language. They are part of the current MDC Standard. Also included in this collection are the documents that are approved by the MDC as proposed enhancements and extensions to the current ANSI Standards, ANSI/MDC X11.2-199
5 Open MUMPS Interconnect and ANSI/MDC X11.6-1994 M Windowing API. They are all part of the current MDC Standards.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. What do M programmers love about M?

High productivity, low hardware requirements, good scalability.
     
     [Thomas C. Salander in M Computing, June 1994, p.74]

I still program with other languages (Pascal, C, APL, LISP, and so on), but 
almost always find myself saying, 'but it's so much easier in MUMPS!' ... 
it's just plain quicker to implement most applications MUMPS.  MUMPS is a 
powerful computing language designed to solve real-world problems.

     [John Lewkowicz, The Complete MUMPS, p. xii]

When I was first at the VA, Greg here gave me a 1 page batch of M code and 
asked if I could do it any faster in C.  Two weeks, a lot of aspirin, and 
two compilers later, I had 'barely' working code (it would only run *once*).

     [Mark Komarinski]

M is powerful and succinct.  It's excellent for general hacking.  If I 
suddenly get a hankering for the first thousand digits of pi, or for all the 
order 4 magic squares, or for a table of word frequencies in a document, I 
don't know of any language I can accomplish this in faster.

     [Keith F. Lynch]

f p=2,3:2 s q=1 x "f f=3:2 q:f*f>p!'q  s q=p#f" w:q p,?$x\8+1*8
  
     [part of Keith Lynch's .signature; it prints a table of primes,        
      including code to format it neatly into columns--DPBS]

I really like the way that the global tree is "just there" without any
file opening, record declarations, and the like.

     [Kevin O'Gorman]

Indirection.  Execute strings.  String subscripts.  Enormously valuable.
No other language has all of them.

     [Ricardo Garcia]

I haven't touched MUMPS since the late 70's.  I`ve been missing globals ever 
since. While I was using MUMPS I implemented a simple programming tool 
couple of pages of MUMPS code. I've missed that tool ever since, as well as 
how easy it was to implement. 

     [Steve J. Morris]


------------------------------------------------------------------------

6. What things about M are generally disliked?
  
Low transaction reliability, character-based screens, poor integration with 
other environments, and few development tools.

     [Thomas C. Salander in M Computing, June 1994, p.74]


Are all vendors utilities crap?  Having worked with DTM, DSM, MSM it seems 
lots of effort went into the M and no thought went into the programmer 
utilities. 

     [Richard J. Tomlinson]

When I look back on my Fortran code from school I am a little embarrassed 
but I understand it. When I look back on my MUMPS I can't even read it 
without slow token by token translation. It's amazing to me how fluent I was 
when I wrote it and how fluent I'm not when I read it.  

     [Steve J. Morris] 

It's possible to write completely obfuscated MUMPS code, and too many MUMPS 
programmers do it.  Some even brag about nobody else being able to read 
their code.  Fortunately for those of us in the VA who have to maintain that 
code, they are becoming a minority.  

    [John E. Kemker, III]

------------------------------------------------------------------------

7. Why is M called a "database language?" 

M is a programming language with a strong emphasis on text
handling and database management. However, M is NOT a data base
management system. The disadvantage of being a programming language is that 
it takes more expertise to apply the language to create a working data base,
but the advantage of not being a dedicated database management system
is that it is infinitely more flexible.

    [Ed de Moel]

------------------------------------------------------------------------
8. Is M an RDBMS?

The so-called DBMS component of M is another name for the feature of
persistent associative array variables, i.e. arrays that can be
indexed by strings, on an arbitrary number of levels, and that survive
the termination of the program, being transparently stored on a
permanent medium (hard disk).

This feature is comparable to what ISAM (Indexed Sequential Access
Method) packages offer for other languages, but it is more powerful 
than ISAM and it is seamlessly integrated into the language.  It is 
*not* a relational database system, although it can serve as a basis
for implementing one and does so in several commercial products. 

     [Tilman Schmidt]

Databases that have a lot of many-to-many relations, and/or a lot of sparse 
information (fields that are more often empty than filled in) do not fit the 
relational model well. While a relational database can represent this data, 
it does it with great complexity or inefficiency.  

The sparse hierarchical array structure assumed by M is a much more 
natural fit for this type of data.  

    [Arthur B. Smith]


The M standards suite includes a standard for embedded SQL, and embedded SQL 
is provided in commercial products such as InterSystems' M/SQL and KBase's 
KB/SQL.

    [David Whitten]

Initial development of the "relational model" of databases appeared to place 
MUMPS at a disadvantage, but recent advances in so-called non-first-normal 
form, a reference to hierarchical structures characteristic of MUMPS, open the 
door for MUMPS to take a leadership role in current research in that field.

    [Richard F. Walters, "The ABCs of MUMPS"]

------------------------------------------------------------------------
9. Is M compiled or interpreted?

M was designed to be interpreted.  Real compilation of an M program
into a machine program for the target machine is not feasible due to
the following of M's features:

- The XECUTE verb allows execution of a runtime string value as an M
  program, and indirection allows substitution of runtime string
  values into the executed source code.  Therefore a complete M
  interpreter must be present at runtime, anyway.

- Indirection allows variable names and labels to be taken from string
  variables, so all names of variables and labels in the source text
  must be available at runtime, i.e. stored within the compiled
  program.

- The $TEXT function allows access to the program source text at
  runtime, so in principle the whole source must be kept together with
  the compiled program.

In practice, most M interpreters precompiled programs into an
intermediate, binary form that is more compact to store, and more
efficient to execute.  The requirement of keeping the source text
around is relaxed by conventions limiting the use of $TEXT to comment
lines, or to comments starting with two semicolons, and M interpreters
often offer the option of keeping just these parts of the source
(which of course breaks programs not respecting the convention).

     [Tilman Schmidt]

Greystone has a product that compiles to .EXE files that are comparable
in size to C source .Exe.

     [David Whitten]

Most of the versions of MUMPS these days are pre-compilers; a
tokenized version of the routine is actually stored separately and
usually runs faster.

     [Ben Bishop]

The reasons to use a pseudo-code approach instead of trying to generate 
machine code has a lot to do with memory efficiency - M has a well deserved 
reputation for requiring very little in the way of hardware resources, such 
as RAM.  It also has a lot to do with what people do in M.  If you do 
profiles on M applications, you find that much of the time they are doing 
things that wouldn't be helped by trying to compile to assembly code anyway 
(they are accessing globals, doing I/O, etc.).   Also,  with a good C 
implementation of M, I can port to a new Unix platform in a day or so (and 
then take a few weeks more if we want to assembly optimize the most commonly 
executed simple tokens - which I have done for most of the current 
architectures (Intel, Alpha, Mips, RS/6000-PowerPC, Motorola 68K, Motorola 
88K, and Sparc).  That would not be possible with an implementation that 
actually compiled to machine code. (Look at the delays of moving VC++ 2.0 to 
non-Intel architectures).  Finally, with pseudo-code (we call ours m-code), 
you can share a compiled routine across all platforms (as we do with our 
M/SQL code).

     [Scott P. Jones]

------------------------------------------------------------------------
10. How fast is M?


One company developing heavily in MUMPS ran tests to determine performance
characteristics of MUMPS vs. Oracle.  MUMPS ran approximately six times
faster.  Digital's DSM (Digital Standard MUMPS) consistently sets benchmark
records for transaction processing.

     [John E. Kemker, III]

In benchmarking MUMPS and alternatives such as RPG, BASIC, COBOL and 
FORTRAN, Casimiro Alonso reports that "A user choosing MUMPS for interactive 
data base applications can expect up to five times more power from a given 
computer" and that "the applications development took about one-third the 
amount of time forecast for the use of other languages...." with the MUMPS 
database occupying "only one-half to one-quarter of the disk space required 
by others.

     [C. Alonso, A Case for MUMPS, Computerworld, January 9, 1984, as
     cited by William J. Harvey and Frederick G. Kohun in the article,
     "MUMPS," from Encyclopedia of Microcomputers, 1993.] 

Very rough tests suggest that DTM is about twice as fast as Visual BASIC's 
implementation of the BASIC language.  These tests involve simple code, 
coded similarly in each language, that exercise fundamental operations that 
are common to, and natural in, both languages (FOR loops involving 
arithmetic and fundamental string operations).  On a 33MHz 386DX, Visual 
BASIC runs at very roughly 1000-2000 commands/second, DTM about twice that.  
Double that for a 486 DX2, quadruple that for a Pentium.

     [DPBS]   

------------------------------------------------------------------------
11. Does M support Microsoft Windows and other GUI's?

A 1994 addition to the M standard, the M Windowing API (MWAPI), defines an 
interface between the M language and windowing systems.

InterSystems and Micronetics offer versions of M that implement the MWAPI in 
a Microsoft Windows environment. Digital has an implementation [is it 
commercially released? Details?] for Windows NT. 

The M Windowing API and its commercial implementations are relatively new 
and have rough edges. The MWAPI has the advantage of portability and 
platform-independence, but has some limitations associated with the "least-
common-denominator" approach.

A unique feature of the MWAPI is that this "API" does not consist of 
subroutine calls (except for a few incidental functions). MWAPI programming 
consists mainly of performing sets and kills into a "structured system 
variable," which looks like a standard M global. For example, to set the 
title of a window to "M Technology Demonstration," you write

     s ^$WINDOW("main","TITLE")="M Technology Demonstration"

To make its dimensions 300 by 200, you write

     s ^$WINDOW("main","SIZE")="300,200"

The MWAPI is currently offered for Microsoft Windows by InterSystems and 
Micronetics, and for Windows NT by Digital Equipment Corporation.  It is 
often presented as the windowing future for M technology.

VISUAL-BASIC-LIKE APPROACHES

InterSystems' "Visual M" is a set of tools which link M with Microsoft 
Visual Basic, creating an integrated dual-language environment. M code can 
be accessed and edited from within the VB design environment, can access VB 
control properties, and can be triggered by VB events.  

Micronetics' MSM-Workstation product provides a Visual-Basic-like
environment "WRITE-SLASH" APPROACHES entirely based on M and the MWAPI.

InterSystems' "DT-Windows," MGlobal's MGM-PC (for MS-Windows) and MGM-Mac 
(for the Macintosh) use a feature of the M standard that allows the language 
to be extended for device-specific purposes by means of the "write-slash" 
syntax.  In DT-Windows and MGM, the windowing system is treated as a 
"device" with an unusually rich repertoire of device-specific commands.  
Although DT-Windows and MGM are conceptually similar, they are incompatible 
with each other.  They are ad-hoc language extensions.  Neither seems to 
have set a de facto standard.  Why do these products (DT-Windows and MGM) 
provide a nonstandard approach?  The answer, in part, is that they were 
introduced prior to the finalization of the MWAPI standard.  Why do they 
still exist?  Because they are closer to their underlying windowing platform 
than the MWAPI, they arguably provide better performance and broader access 
to the GUI system's functionality.  

Examples from the DT-Windows manual and MGM product literature, 
respectively, show how an "OK" button is added to a dialog box:

    DT-Windows
        w /waddbutton(2,65,40,10,20,1,1,1,0,0,0,"OK",1)

    MGM
        W /DBUTTON("OK",2,9) 

------------------------------------------------------------------------
12. Are there any M magazines or journals?

The M Technology Association publishes "M Computing," a technical journal.  
Members receive it free.  See Appendix 2.  

MTA-Europe publishes "M Professional" a news/technical journal in English 3 
times a year. MTA-Europe members receive it free. Non-members can order a 
subscription.

Other MTAs also produce newsletters, mostly in local languages. Contact them 
directly for more information.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

13. Which is the "official" name, M or MUMPS?

This topic seems to be the M community's very own little religious war.  The 
following represents the editor's opinion.  Other views, including one from 
a member of the MUMPS Development Committee, are represented in Appendix 4.

M and MUMPS are alternate names for the same language.

M, the newer name, is now very widely accepted in the M community. The name 
change was introduced to address long-standing problems with the name MUMPS.  
The name MUMPS gave many the impression that the language was specifically 
for hospitals and health care applications.  Many also felt it was 
undignified.  

M/MUMPS has evolved rapidly, with new ANSI standards being successfully 
issued in 1977, 1984, 1990, and a new standard now in canvass, which will 
probably issue in 1995. It is not the same language that it was in 1967.   


    [DPBS]    

------------------------------------------------------------------------
14. Is M a mainstream language?

1991 worldwide revenue in the M marketplace was estimated at $1 billion, 
projected to grow to $2 billion by 1996.

Approximately 2,000 individuals/organizations belong to M Technology 
Association-North America, with approximately another 1,000 belonging to 
other MTAs. 

Versions of the M language are available from twelve vendors on every 
significant hardware platform. Some versions provide direct support for non-
English languages, for example German, Russian, Japanese.

But: "The national meeting of the MTA draws fewer attendees than the 
northeast regional meeting of the SAS Users' Group." [Thomas C. Salander, M 
Computing, June 1994, p. 72].
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
15. Is M useful for non-medical applications?
  
Although it originated in a medical environment, nothing in the
language is specific to medical applications.  Non-medical
applications can be, and have been, implemented successfully in M.

The Gartner Group report, "1992 MUMPS Assessment and Opportunity," notes: 
"[M-based trust software from NCS] is used by several of the top 200 U.S. 
banks to control more than 375 accounts totaling $600 billion in trust 
assets.  Lloyds of London, Barclays, and Bank of Bermuda ... use M 
systems... M moved into communication, shipping and transportation, law 
enforcement and other areas in the 1970s and 1980s.  The Veteran's 
Administration, Discovery Channel, Coca-Cola and Schweppes, Ltd. Star 
Shipping, and the Law School Admission Service are among the M users."

A recent M Technology Association press release describes how M Systems
Plus won a contract with American Express's Travel Related Service Division 
(AMEX) in Atlanta contract to convert 2,000 cruise bookings acquired from a 
West Coast firm.  It is said that the M System was designed and developed 
within two and a half weeks, and was up and running on schedule, processing 
over 500 telephone booking inquiries the first day.  It has since been 
expanded to include brochure fulfillment, customer service, word processing, 
questionnaires that gauge customer reaction, and agent telephone activity 
tracking.

    [DPBS]


------------------------------------------------------------------------
16. Is M object-oriented?

No. A working group within MDC (the MUMPS development committee) is, 
however, actively considering object-oriented extensions.  

One vendor, ESI is marketing a development system, ESIObjects, that allows 
fully object-oriented programming in M. ESI, 5 Commonwealth Road, Natick, MA 
01760, +1-508-651-1400, FAX +1-508-651-0708

     [DPBS]

However, M has many of the characteristics of newer OO languages. For 
example: dynamic memory usage, late-binding, encapsulation possibilities.

     [Jon Diamond]
     

------------------------------------------------------------------------
17. Is M structured?

Yes, no, maybe, sort of.  M syntax is not for purists or academicians. 

If you want to code in a structured style:

    -- you may not love M's syntax, but you can live with it;  
    -- the necessary features are there;
    -- they do, however, have an "add-on" or "makeshift" flavor.

M does not enforce a structured style.  And because the features that 
support structured programming were absent from the MUMPS of the early 
eighties, there is a substantial body of unstructured legacy code still in 
use, and a substantial number of M programmers comfortable with what might 
be called the "traditional" coding style.

The M "ELSE" statement is a simple executable statement.  It is not 
syntactically paired with an IF.  The semantics are, approximately: a 
special system value, $TEST, is reminiscent of the "condition bits" in some 
processor.  An IF statement sets the value of $TEST according to whether the 
condition was true or false.  An ELSE statement is equivalent to IF '$TEST 
(the apostrophe is the "not" operator).  Unfortunately, the traditional 
MUMPS subroutine does not push and pop the state of $TEST.  Thus,

     If a>b Write !,"a is greater."
     Else  Write !,"b is greater."

performs as expected, but 

     If a>b Do REPORT1
     Else  Do REPORT2

may not, particularly if the REPORT1 subroutine itself contains If 
statements of its own.

This problem is solved by a feature called the "argumentless Do." Actually 
the argumently Do plays three separate roles in M programming:  

   -- It can do the job performed by continuation lines in other languages;
   -- It provides a mechanism for multiline IF's and FOR's; 
   -- because an argumentless Do, unlike a standard Do (!), does stack 
      and pop the value of $TEST, it can be used to write structures that 
      look and act like nested IF-THEN-ELSE statements in other languages.

    If condition1 Do
    . If condition2 Do
    . . <code> ;executes if condition1 and 2 are both true
    . . <code>
    . . <code>
    . Else  Do
    . . <code> ;executes if condition1 is true but not condition2
    . . <code>
    . . <code>
    Else  Do
    . <code> ;executes if condition1 is false
    . <code>
    . <code>


     [DPBS]

Is MUMPS structured? I think it is.  We haven't outlawed the GOTO true, but 
we have named subroutines, controlled loops (while loop is the same as 
argumentless FOR with a QUIT), iterated loops (FOR), Parameter Passing to 
subroutines, functions with return values... We also have line scoping on 
IFs, ELSEs and FORs. What else do you need to be structured?

     [David Whitten]

What about declaration of variables? What about scope of variables aside 
from line scope?

I'm not convinced that the "while" exactly counts as a feature of MUMPS - in 
fact, an argumentless FOR with a QUIT is a "repeat...until", for a "while" 
you would need to perform an initial IF. Do such composite statements really 
count as proper controlled loops?

Even if MUMPS is technically structured, it goes (IMHO) against the spirit 
of structured programming with commands reduced to a single letter whenever 
possible, short variable names encouraged, and no white space. The 
significance of the space character (in argumentless commands) is completely 
counter intuitive. 

I can't say that technically you're not correct in mentioning the above 
features but one of the primary aims of structured programming is to make 
support of existing code easier. In my experience, MUMPS encourages hacking 
and badly designed code.

    [Gavin Greig]

------------------------------------------------------------------------
18. Is M suitable for multiuser systems?

Yes.  An important feature of the M language is that the standard language 
core includes multiuser and multitasking features.  These facilitate writing 
portable distributed-processing applications.

A "JOB" command allows one process to initiate other, independent processes.  
Processes can arbitrate access to resources with each other via a "LOCK" 
command.  

There is no specific formal interprocess communication.  Interprocess 
communication is achieved via the LOCK mechanism and shared use of "global" 
data (which are available to all processes)     

   [--DPBS]

------------------------------------------------------------------------
19. Does M work on LANs?

Yes. The primary method of implentation might be termed "remote global 
access." Globals residing on a remote system can be accessed and locked 
simply by using extended syntax to refer to them. For example, 
^HERE(name,address) refers to a piece of data on my local system, while 
^|DENVER|THERE(name,address) might refer to a piece of data on a remove 
system. 

Thus, the same programming techniques used to build multiuser and 
multiprocess applications on a single system can be used to build 
distributed network systems.

In addition to this explicit networking most vendors allow for implicit 
network referencing, allowing system managers to choose the location of data 
independent of the application programs.

A networking protocol standard, "Open MUMPS Interconnect," provides least-
common-denominator capability so that systems from different vendors can 
participate on the same network. In addition, for competitive reasons, most 
vendors support the major protocols of their competitors.

An M-based LAN system in use at Brigham and Women's hospital, with 3,000 PC 
clients and over 100 servers, is a well-known and very successful 
application of the technology. 

There are also a number of systems with M operating in more complex 
client/server situations, with M acting as a front-end to other systems and 
also a back-end via RPC etc to applications created using other tools, for 
example Visual Basic, C++ and so on.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
20. Is M standard?

1977: accepted as an ANSI standard, ANSI/MDC X11.1

1984: revised ANSI standard ANSI/MDC X11.1-1984

1986: approved as a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS)

1990: revised ANSI standard ANSI/MDC X11.1-1990

1992: accepted as an international standard, ISO/IEC 11756-1992

1993: revised FIPS 125-1

1995: revised standard in ANSI canvass procedure for approval as 
ANSI/MDC X11.1-1994 (or maybe 1995) and distributed for comments in ISO as 
ISO/IEC 11756-1995.

1995: M Standard: December 1995, ANSI approved X11.1 (1995 Programming Language) and X11.2 (Open MUMPS Interconnect)

------------------------------------------------------------------------
21. Is M portable?

As a standardized language, M is portable as long as only the features
defined in the standard are used.  In practice, the portability of M
programs is typically as good as or better than that of C, and much
better than BASIC, because, unlike BASIC for example, standard MUMPS is
sufficiently rich to implement real-world applications mostly without
resorting to vendor-specific extensions.

     [Tilman Schmidt]

The contents of the ISO standard is IDENTICAL to the contents of the
ANSI standard. This is another thing that makes M[UMPS] special:
it is not uncommon that nationally accepted versions of standards
differ in details from their internationally accepted counterparts.

     [Ed de Moel]

MUMPS has better portability than C or any other language I'm aware of.  The 
VA has successfully run the same 15000 routine system on almost every 
platform imaginable.  VA Kernel and FileMan, the core of Decentralized 
Hospital Computer Program (DHCP) and CHCS (The DoD version of DHCP) and IHS 
(Indian Health Services) has been run, with very few changes, on machines 
ranging from PC's (over 80 VA Medical Centers running on 486's) to VAXen 
(other VA's running VMS) to Alpha AXP's (the replacement for the VAXen and 
some 486 sites) to IBM RS/6000's running AIX (DoD with CHCS from SAIC) . 

    [John E. Kemker, III]

MUMPS is available for at least the following platforms:
      MSDOS v2.0+ (single-user or multi-user)
     Unix - Altos, AT&T 3B2, Bull XPS and DPX/2, Control Data 4000, 
             Data General AViiON, Digital Equipment VAX/Alpha, 
             Hewlett Packard 9000, IBM RS/6000, ICL DRS 6000, 
             Motorola Delta, Phillips P9000, MIPS, Nixdorf Targon 31, 
             NCR Tower, Pyramid, Sequent, Siemens, Sun, 
             Texas Instruments 1500, Unisys 5000 and 6000
     Apple Macintosh OS
     VMS - Digital Equipment VAX/Alpha
     VM - IBM mainframe
     Netware
     Windows 3.1
     Windows NT

    [Jon Diamond]


------------------------------------------------------------------------
22. How does M compare to SQL?

M is a full-featured procedural general-purpose programming language.
SQL is a declarative language for relational database queries only,
and must be embedded in a general-purpose programming language in
order to achieve Turing completeness.

M accesses its database at low level, almost like programming in ISAM level.  
SQL works on the relational level, a higher level of abstraction.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
23. How does M compare to BASIC:


Both are procedural, interpreted applications languages.

Both have a line-oriented, verb-object type syntax.
 
M has additional features: better string handling, multidimensional
string-indexed arrays, persistent variables, multitasking, multi-user
support, dynamic code.

M offers greater standardization and portability. Although there is an ANSI 
standard for BASIC, it is of little practical importance because few vendors 
conform to it, it is not rich enough to permit development of real-world 
applications within the standard, and there is a tradition of non-standard 
vendor extensions. 

The state of M standardization is superior. The Veterans' Administration, in 
particular, took a leadership role in writing validation suites that assure 
vendor conformance to the standard.   

Vendor choice: BASIC is currently dominated by a single company, Microsoft. 
There are other vendors but few have any practical importance.  M is 
available from a wider range of vendors.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
24. How does x-base compare to M?

Compare M with the Xbase languages
 
Answering complex questions is one of the biggest reasons we invest in the 
time and expense of using a database management system. Several types of 
graphical products exist today to help you query your database. Of these, 
dedicated front-end query and reporting tools such as Borland ReportSmith 
for Windows and Intersolve Q+E are probably the best-known in corporate 
environments. Such tools are typically client applications designed to query 
data from corporate databases residing on client servers. Typically, these 
products have no built-in data-management capabilities; many require you to 
have a detailed knowledge of your database and the workings of relational 
databases in general.
 
PC-based database management systems let you construct queries and produce 
reports. You need a fair amount of database savvy to construct a query that 
produces the right result. Fortunately, the products are getting better at 
making this process easier. The two leading PC-based database management 
systems are Microsoft Access 2.0 and Borland Paradox for Windows 5.0.
 
A query is a request for information from a database. Methods for specifying 
a query have improved over time. Traditionally, one would have used SQL, or 
structured query language. In the late 1970s, IBM Research developed a new 
query technique called QBE, or query by example. In QBE, one supplies query 
details by filling in a table with values. For instance, to locate rows where 
the state value is New York, one would move to the State column and enter NY. 
To find salaries greater than $40000, one would enter > 40000. The basic idea 
of QBE is to make the dialogue easy to learn and reduce any reliance on 
keywords or language syntax.
 
It is possible to set up a database in M using a tool such as the VA Fileman 
package. Reports can be generated by means of the Report Writer feature of 
VA Fileman. Related records in a database are organized together to form 
a file, or in MUMPS terms a global. A field is a unique observation or data 
element. A record is comprised of one or more fields, a file (or global in M)
is a collection of records and a database is the collection of all files 
comprising an application. 
 
 	[ Jeff Loeb ]
-----------------------------------------------------------
25. Are there M-based 4GLs and application generators?

DASL (DSM Application Software Library). Based on DSM (Digital Standard M), 
it allows one to build database applications by defining data items and 
interactively designing screen placement.  DASL runs on VMS and Unix 
platforms.

"I used to build apps with DASL... One of the things I really liked about 
DASL is that it handled a lot of routine stuff, allowing me to build apps in 
about 30% of the time that it would have taken with straight M coding--
which, in turn, is considerably faster than coding in most other languages 
:^) Because DASL is written in M it was easy to modify to add special 
features."

     [Aaron Seidman]

Others include:

    InterSystems Open M/SQL.
    Micronetics ViEW.
    Hoskyns MDM.
    Cybertools CyberM.
    Veterans Administration Kernel (public-domain).

    [Jon Diamond]


------------------------------------------------------------------------
26. Are there M bulletin boards? M FTP sites? M Web Pages? M Newsgroups?


[01/95] Arthur B. Smith, ART@vets.vetmed.missouri.edu, has recently launched 
what is probably the first general-purpose public M FTP site.  You can reach 
it by anonymous ftp.  The location, in URL format, is:

        ftp://vets.vetmed.missouri.edu//mumps/

For conventional ftp access, issue the command ftp 
vets.vetmed.missouri.edu. The beginning of a session looks like this:

        ftp vets.vetmed.missouri.edu
        Connected to vets.vetmed.missouri.edu.
        Name (vets.vetmed.missouri.edu:dpbsmith): anonymous
        331 Anonymous Login OK, send id as password.
        Password: [type in your e-mail address here]
        230-User logged in
        230- Welcome to the University of Missouri-Columbia Department of 
        230- Veterinary Medicine and Surgery FTP Server.

As of 1/95, this location appears to contain everything from the NEMUG BBS,
as well as DT-STUDENT and the M FAQ.  See the description of the NEMUB BGS, 
below. --DPBS

(7/94) Approximately 150 M-related files available for download; 
examples:


MUGLIB1.LZH    Part 1 of MUGLIB Disk 11.  Use LHA to extract  (06-20-92)
XPORT.RO       Short M routine to change globals  (06-27-93)
UTILS.EXE      Various MUMPS utilities  (08-17-92)
CALC.EXE       M CALCULATOR - VER 3.00 - PKZIP EXE  (11-14-92)
COWRITER.EXE   This is a Free CoWriter Demo.  (03-18-92)
DSRECOV.ZIP    Recover crashed DataTree %dsbackups  (09-09-92)
DTM-EDTR.LZH   Full-Screen editor for DataTree MUMPS. Use LH  (06-19-92)
HASEDIT.EXE    MUMPS Editor from High Altitude.  (10-19-90)
KERM-MGB.LZH   KERMIT-M for CCSM MUMPS. Use LHA to extract f  (06-19-92)
MSMSHELL.UTL   MSM's Programmer Shell Utility  (12-30-91)
MUMPS53.LZH    UC Davis MicroMUMPS Ver 5.23 ($H Fix).  (06-11-92)
NOUS134.LZH    NOUS is a MUMPS Interpreter which contains Pr  (09-23-92)
STUDENT.EXE    DT-STUDENT. FREE MUMPS System. Auto Pkunzip.  (09-15-92)
TMM.LZH        TURBO-MicroMUMPS is a MUMPS Interpreter.  (10-19-92)
FMV20.ZIP      VA FileMan Verion 20  (09-23-93)
FMPRO.LZH      VA FileMan Programmer Manual.  Use LHA210.EXE  (06-15-92)
XMTECH32.LZH   MailMan 3.2 Technical Manual. Use LHA210.EXE   (06-15-92)
HURST.ZIP      MUMPS games and files for ISC's M/VX.  (09-16-91)
IDEAFACT.EXE   The Idea Factory by C. Volkstorf  (03-23-92)
MBBS792.TXT    Other known MUMPS BBS Boards as of 7/92  (07-24-92)
POSTNET.ZIP    print USPS POSTNET barcodes using M  (06-01-93)
SSVN.TXT       Guy Gardner's paper on SSVN's for Windowing  (03-04-92)


(All of the BBS'es listed here are in the USA. --DPBS)

DHCP BBS: (801)583-0135

Focussed on the VA's Distributed Hospital Computer Program (DHCP); not a 
general-use M BBS. 

                            ****************


InterSystems BBS: 

     General Users 617 225-0475
     VARS 617 494-0867

                            ****************


Micronetics on CompuServe: GO PCVENH, Section 8 and DL 8

(7/94) CompuServe forum "PC Vendors (H)" is shared by a number of vendors; 
Micronetics occupies section 8 for messages, and DL 8 for files. The forum 
has received about five postings in the last two weeks, and is basically an 
extension of Micronetics' support services.  Most threads begin as customer 
questions addressed to Micronetics support, and most files are product 
patches press releases, etc.

                            ****************

Micronetics Customer Support BBS: (301) 948-6825

(7/94) Content similar to Micronetics section on CompuServe. Primarily a 
customer support mechanism. [Micronetics Explorer, a student version of MSM, 
appears to be available for downloading from this BBS as EXP1.ZIP and 
EXP2.ZIP]. 

Some examples of files available for downloading:

%ZAB.RTN     MUMPS      624 05/94 Display $ZA bit settings for device...
3C507.COM    MAIN      5.4K 03/91 3COM 3C507 Packet Driver
408H.NOT     MUMPS     7.9K 05/94 Release notes for Version 4.0.8H
AGENDAS.ASC  MUMPS      24K 09/91 MSM COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
BISMMARK.RTN MUMPS     8.3K 04/94 Benchmark routines...
COLOR.RTN    MUMPS     1.8K 02/94 COLOR DEMO -- GUI
EXP1.ZIP     MUMPS     1.3M 12/93 Explorer File (Database) 1 of 2...
EXP2.ZIP     MUMPS     1.0M 12/93 Explorer File (Executables) 2 of 2...
GBMAINT1.RTN MUMPS     7.0K 05/94 GLB Compression fix for PC/Plus ver 4.0.9 
only
                            ****************


(8/94) 150 files for downloading, including VA Fileman 20.0 and no less than 
five versions of M: 

   MUMPS Interpreters located in file area "MUMPS Programs & Utilities"

   MSM-EXPLORER Version 1.0 - File names for downloading are MSMEXP_1.EXE,
   MSMEXP_2.EXE and MSM_INST.HLP.

   DT Student Version 1.1 - File names for downloading are STUDENT1.LZH
   (DT Student part 1) and STUDENT2.LZH (VA FileMan 19 and Documentation
   part 2)

   NOUS Version 1.34 - File name for downloading is NOUS134.LZH

   TURBO-MicroMUMPS - Filename for downloading TMM.LZH

   UC Davis MicroMUMPS Version 5.23 - File name for downloading
   is MUMPS53.LZH

                            ****************


New England MUG BBS: - Discontinued due to the popularity of the Internet.

          Sysop: Gardner Trask
          Baud: 300, 1200, 2400 and 9600
          8 bits, no parity, one stop bit
          MNP5 error correction protocol 2400/9600 baud
          24 hours, free

The New England M BBS was the largest and longest running BBS dedicated 
to the M community. It served as a communication point at a time when the 
Internet was still not available to the public. The popularity and 
explosion of the net made the BBS mute.


	********************************

M Newsgroups?


Currently, there is one newsgroup dedicated to M on the internet. It is:

comp.lang.mumps

Previously, a moderated newsgroup dealing with M standards was abandoned 
whem c.l.m.'s popularity grew.


	*********************************

M Web Pages:

This list is never quite complete, and subject to old links. Please 
inform Gardner of any new, deleted, or modified Web Addresses:

(In no particular order)

Vendors:

www.micronetics.com                      Micronetics Design Corp.
www.intersys.com                         InterSystems Corp.
www.riosoft.softex.br/~x10tech/          Extensao Software Corporation


M Language technical resources and enhancement projects:

www.vmth.ucdavis.edu/M/mhttp.htm         Jim Self's MHTTP Server
www.mcenter.com/mtrc                     M Technology Resource Center
ftp://vets.vetmed.missouri.edu/     FTP site for M files

MDC, MTA, User Groups, and Standards Bodies:

www.radix.net/~demoel/mdc/               Mumps Development Committee
www.members.aol.com/mta1994/mta.htm      M Technology Association
www.mindspring.com/~mga                  Mumps of Georgia Users Group
www.mtauki.co.uk/                        MTA - UK & I
www.ua.ac.be/mta/                        MTA - Europe
www.klinik.uni-frankfurt.de/mug-d        MUG of Deutschland
www.uku.fi/jarjestot/myhdistys/          MUG - Finland
www.montagar.com/~swmug                  The Southwest Mumps Users Group
www.itl.nist.gov/                        Computer Information Laboratory
www.mcis.duke.edu/standards/guide.htm    Healthcare Informatics Standards
www.itl.nist.gov/div897/                 Software Diagnostics & Conformance 
                                         Testing Division  of NIST 


M publications, e-zines, software, etc.

www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/7041/mwm.html    MWM: an electronic e-zine on M 
www.members.aol.com/mta1994/public.htm    Books on M Technology
www.mtauki.co.uk/mtapubs.htm              Books on M Technology from MTA-UK&I
www.members.aol.com/mta1994/softwar.htm   M Technology Software
www.mtauki.co.uk/mtasoftw.htm             M Technology Software from MTA-UK&I
ftp://vets.vetmed.missouri.edu/      FTP site for miscellaneous M files
www.va.gov/dhcp/cdrom/software.htm        MUMPS programs on the VA server
www.mtechnology.org/mtapubs.html          M Publications from MTA-NA


Classes/Tutorials:

www.isc.rit.edu/~nat4087/MUMPS/           Rochester Institute of Technology


M people:

www.geocities.com/SilliconValley/7041     Chris Bonnici's M Home Page
www.cs.uni.edu/~okane                     Kevin C. O'Kane
homepages.enterprise.net/andreww/         Andrew Webb's Homepage
www.world.std.com/~seidman/aaron.html     Aaron Seidman 's Homepage
www.i1.net/~jelkins/                      The Jim Elkins Home Page 


Other Companies related to, using, enhancing M:

www.atlasdev.com                          Atlas Development
www.connexsys.com                         Connex Systems
www.seasystems.com                        Sea Change Systems     
www.cytools.com                           Cybertools
www.kbsystems.com                         KB Systems
www.sentientsystems.com                   Sentient Systems
www.tiac.net/users/kra/                   Kogan-Rose Associates
www.hwsl.co.uk/mgw                        M/Gateway Developments Ltd
www.henryelliottandco.com/                Henry Elliott &amp; Company
www.mcenter.com/tyler/                    The Tyler Group
www.mindspring.com/~mga/corp-01.html#CPU  Career Professionals Unlimited
www.techassociates.com/                   Tech Associates
www.megaforceusa.com/                     MegaForce
www.dice.com/prc/                         Professional Recruiting Consultants
www.members.gnn.com/Emergent/et-top.htm   Emergent Technologies
www.beaconpartners.com/red.html           Beacon Partners Consultants
www.eskimo.com/~lci/                      LCI  Homepage
www.yonder.com/                           Yonder Technologies
www.cyberspy.com/~kaycom/                 Kay Communications
www.fthill.com/                           Foothill Solutions
www.esitechnology.com                     ESI Technology
www.arnet.com/                            Digi International
www.dht.com/                              Dynamic Healthcare
www.idx.com/                              IDX Systems
www.partners.org/bwh/home.html            Brigham and Women's Hospital
www.hboc.com                              HBO&amp;Company
www.kaiperm.org                           Kaiser Permanente
www.consult.hsc.wvu.edu/                  WV Consult
www.va.gov/vama.htm#DHCP                  Department of Veterans Affairs
www.omegalegal.com/                       Omega Legal System
www.isg-us.com/                           International Software Group
www.georgejames.com/marina/               George James Software
www.srcorp.com                            System Resources Corporation
www.bender.brooks.af.mil/www/             MEDSITE
www.corningbesselaar.co.uk/               Corning Pharmaceutical Services
www.labcorp.com/                          LabCorp
www.hogan1.atiin.com/uniband/             UniBand
www.epic.net/asianterminals/              Asian Terminals
www.ultranet.com/~scision/strate.html     StrateCision
www.ctg.com/                              Computer Task Group
www.intraco.com/                          Intraco Systems
www.epicsys.com/                          Epic Systems
http://jacquardsystems.com	              Jacquard Systems Research   
www.partners.org                          Partners Healthcare System, 
www.sunquest.com                          Sunquest Information Systems, Inc.


------------------------------------------------------------------------

27. "What happened in 1841?"

In M, the current date and time is contained in a special system variable, 
$H (for "HOROLOG").  The format is a pair of integers separated by a comma, 
e.g. "54321,12345"  The first number is the number of days since December 
31st, 1840, i.e. day number 1 is January 1st, 1841; the second is the number 
of seconds since midnight.

But why 1841?  According to Steve Clay, sbc@pobox.com, the following 
answer appeared in the "Just Ask!" column of the September 1993 issue of 
"M Computing," a publication of the M Technology Association, Silver Spring, 
MD 20903 (Phone: 301-431-4070), in the form of a letter from James M. 
Poitras: 

"Starting in early 1969, our group created the Chemistry Lab application at 
Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), which was the first package in the MGH 
MUMPS with Global Data Storage and many of the features of the language 
today...

"When we started programming, there were no utility programs of any type. We 
had to write them all: time, date, verify database, global tally, print 
routine, etc. I ended up writing initial versions of most of these.

"When I decided on specifications for the date routine, I remembered reading 
of the oldest (one of the oldest?) U.S. citizen, a Civil War veteran, who 
was 121 years old at the time. Since I wanted to be able to represent dates 
in a Julian-type form so that age could be easily calculated and to be able 
to represent any birth date in the numeric range selected, I decided that a 
starting date in the early 1840s would be 'safe.' Since my algorithm worked 
most logically when every fourth year was a leap year, the first year was 
taken as 1841. The zero point was then December 30, 1840... 

"That's the origin of December 31, 1840 or January 1, 1841. I wasn't party 
to the MDC negotiations, but I did explain the logic of my choice to members 
of the Committee." 
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
28. How do I list a global directory on this unfamiliar M system?

Although the M language itself is standardized, the operating environment 
and utilities, alas, are not. And they are nonstandardized in the worst way: 
the actual functionality doesn't vary much across vendors, but the details 
do.

Gardner Trask has provided the following guide:


Function           MSM         DSM         MVX/MSQL       DTM
-------------------------------------------------------------
Utility Menu       %UTL        %UTL        UTIL           zzu
Routine Directory  %RD/%ROU    %RD/%RDX    %RD/%RDISP     %rd
Routine Print      %RP         %RS/%ZTPP   %RO/ZP         %rsave
Routine Change     %RCHANGE    %RCE        %RCHANGE       %rsearch
Routine COmpare    %RCMP       %RCMP       %RCMP          %rloadcompare
Global Directory   %GD/%GLO    %GD         %GD/%GDISP     %gd
Global List        %GL         %G          %G             %g
Global Edit        %GEDIT      %GEDT       %GED           %gedit
Global Change      %GCHANGE    %ZGE        %GCHANGE       %gedit
Global Transfer    %GCOPY      %GC         %GOQ/%GIQ

    [Gardner Trask]

29. Do comments really affect efficiency?

[In case anyone is not familiar with Scott Jones, let me say, in a offhand, 
understated way, that he knows what he is talking about--DPBS]

A number of people have talked about the performance/maintenance issues with 
comments, so I thought I'd clear things up a bit, at least for the 
implementations that I deal with (ISM,DTM).  

Double semi-colon comments are placed in-line into the object code, so it is 
best (from a maintenance view as well) to have a separate label for each 
logical section of data, followed by lines of ;; data,  that is not in any 
path of execution.  

For normal comments, if they are at the end of a line that already has code 
on it - there is absolutely NO effect at all on performance, so comment to 
your hearts content.  

If the comment is all that is on the line, there is still a beginning of 
line token - which can be expensive, esp. in frequently executed loops.  The 
reason is that the BOL token does a lot of work after every so many lines, 
such as allow the next process to run (on systems like DTM), or check for 
^C,RESJOB, or other inter-process communication.  

For long runs of comments, such as the maintenance section at the top of a 
well written routine, if you have M/SQL (for ISM,DTM,DSM or MSM), you can 
simply use the macro pre-processor and bracket the code in #if 0 ... #endif.  
This technique totally eliminats the overhead, but it does mean that the 
maintenance section is not present in the M source, only in the macro source 
(this can be an advantage if you ship M source to customers, but don't want 
them to see all of your descriptions of bug fixes). Alternatively, try not 
to start execution on the first line, but use a label after the comment 
section. (i.e. DO entry^foobar instead of DO ^foobar) 

    [Scott P. Jones]


--------------------------------------------

30. What is the MDC?

The MUMPS Development Committee (MDC) is responsible for defining the M 
Standard. Unlike other language standards bodies (such as ANSI and ISO), the 
MDC is dominated by users - systems developers, rather than implementors. 
Anyone with an interest in the M language can join the MDC and all members 
have a single vote. 

MTA-North America acts as the MDC Secretariat and publishes all documents 
pertaining to ANSI X11.1, including the Standard, bindings specifications 
(for example, X Windows, SQL and GKS) and MDC proceedings.

There are also counterparts to the MDC in Europe, Brazil and Japan (MDCCs) 
which feed in non-US contributions and have voting rights at the MDC.

    [Jon Diamond]


----------------------------------------------------
31. A Brief History of M


As told in a series of e-mail exchanges in comp.lang.mumps in Sept/Oct 1996.
Accuracy is not insured. 


From: Monika Kratzmann <monika@INTERSYS.COM>

        We are looking for some historical information on the evolution of M
to be published in an article.  It seems natural to turn to the members of
this newsgroup inviting you to provide any information on this you may have.
Your consideration in providing us with your knowledge about the history of
M is deeply appreciated.

Thank you one and all.

Monika Kratzmann
InterSystems Corporation

--


"Ellis A. Bauman, 608-829-5334" 

It's not clear what specific kinds of info you're looking for, but here's a
brief note on the beginnings, at least as far as I recall:

The language was developed at Massachusetts General Hospital in a lab run by
Dr. Octo Barnett.  It was developed with federal grant money --- hence was in
the public domain, and the name MUMPS stems from
     Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System
     =                              =       =     =           =

Among the chief developers was Neil Pappilardo who later left Mass Gen, and
started Meditech, adding some proprietary features to MUMPS and calling the
result MIIS (Meditech Interactive Information System) --- marketing medical
             =        =           =           =
records systems to hospitals, clinics, medical labs, etc.
At Mass Gen, the language was used to deal with clinical medical data --- hence
its strengths in string handling (lots of text data), sparse arrays (not every
patient undergoes every possible lab test), and other such features.  The
original platform was (at least I think it was) a PDP-15.  It was later ported
to the PDP-11 and other similar "minis" such as the Data General machines like
Novas and Eclipses.

As the idea spread among other medical researchers, people began adding other
features, and there soon developed a whole bunch of "dialects" which frustrated
the researchers because they couldn't exchange software very easily.  To solve
that problem, the MUMPS Users' Group was formed and efforts to standardize the
language began.  Dr. Barnett was among those who was most forceful in arguing
for the creation of MUG and the standardization effort.  I do not remember who
first proposed that ANSI approval be pursued.  The current MTA organization is
what MUG has evolved into, via the name change.  I believe Joan Zimmerman was
the first MUG staff member, and she wrote (or edited?) some of the first MUMPS
tutorial materials published by MUG.

There is probably lots more material, and details, available from the MTA
"archives", and other people who were involved in those early days.  Perhaps
some of the other newsgroup members will know how to contact some of the people
I've mentioned.  For example, there is a short history in Chapter 1 of "The
Complete MUMPS" by John Lewkowicz.  There are also some historical notes in
the MUMPS FAQ (for example, "What happened in 1841?").

I hope the above is both accurate and helpful.



--


From: (Rod Dorman)


As I recall it, the original platform was the PDP-9.

-- 


From: Lev Jacob 

I think the original plarform was a PDP-8.
When the language was adopted by DEC it was a stand-alone OS called
MUMPS-11 on PDP's.

I ca'nt remember MUMPS for Novas but I can remember MUMPS for Tandem Main
Frames with a Multi-Cpu built in functionality.

Good luck.

Jacob Lev.


--

From: Dennis J Brevik 


The original platform was a PDP-9.  When the MGH version was picked up by 
DEC it was productized onto the PDP-15.  A couple years later it was 
rewritten by DEC for the PDP-11.  The systems were standalone.  The date 
that DEC officially picked up a magtape of MUMPS (PDP-9) from LCS at MGH 
was October 3, 1970.  It was a pleasant fall day.  The PDP-15 MUMPS 
system was installed at its first site (Health Data Management Systems of 
Denver) in May 1971.  It took two hours to install, amazing everybody on 
the site, who were expecting a week or two effort.

Dr. Octo Barnett was in charge at the Laboratory of Computer Science at 
MGH.  Neil Papalardo and Bob Greenes were major contributors.  Neil went 
on to form Medical Information Technology (Meditech), Greenes was a 
medical doctor as well as holding a PhD in computer science - both 
degrees awarded simultaneously from Harvard.  Bob went on to be President 
of Automated Health Systems of Wakefield MA and Burlingame CA.

In a Boston meeting in Fall 1972 Bruce Waxman of NIH told the audience in 
no uncertain terms that if they wanted to get NIH money for their 
computer projects they damned well better be using MUMPS, that NIH was 
not interested in reinventing THAT wheel, thank you.  MUMPS took off.

I was the original product line and technical leader on MUMPS-15 at DEC. 
Paul Stylos was the technical leader for MUMPS-11.  Evelyn Dow was the 
original Marketing representative.  And let us not forget Dave Ensor of 
Scotland, who made significant technical contributions.  The DEC 
executive who originally saw the value in MUMPS was Stan Olsen.  Sam 
Moulton was also on the technical side.  

Respecfully,

Dan Brevik


--


From: "Ellis A. Bauman, 608-829-5334" 


Well, Jacob, all I can say is that when I first encountered MUMPS (in the early
to mid 1970s), it was MIIS on a PDP-15, and I later worked on a Data General
machine, also MIIS.  Both of those were stand-alone systems, dedicated to MUMPS
(or at least a MUMPS-like, derivative, language).


--

From: Daniel P. B. Smith


Hi, Monika... There is a 16-page article, "History of the Development of
Medical Information Systems at the Laboratory of Computer Science at
Massachusetts General Hospital" by G. Octo Barnett, MD, in "A History
of Medical Informatics," edited by Bruce I Blum and Karen Duncan,
published by the ACM Press (Addison-Wesley), 1990, ISBN 0-201-50128-7.
I bought it on sale for five bucks at Quantum.  It's almost certainly
out of print but it couldn't hurt to ask Quantum if they have any more
copies kicking around.  

According to the article, the first implementation, of a language called
MUMPS, by Neil Pappalardo, was on a PDP-7.  Not a PDP-15 or a PDP-9, a
PDP-7.

He traces its origins from JOSS through BBN's Telecomp and StringComp.

Richard Walters' "An ABC of MUMPS" contains a "Brief History of MUMPS"
on pp. 20-22 with a family tree showing the root in Rand Corporation
JOSS, through BBN JOSS, via TELCOMP and STRINGCOMP to MGH MUMPS.

-- 
Daniel P. B. Smith



--


From: Etienne Cherdlu 


Now this brings back some memories.  I remember using TELCOMP back in 
1969 (27 years ago).  We used it, via a dial up line, on a PDP-7 (TELCOMP 
II) and later on a PDP-10 (TELCOMP III).

I don't remember much about the machines that we used other than that we 
leased time from a company called Time Sharing Limited of Great Portland 
Street, London. I also have a note from that time about on-line storage 
charges. It cost 30p (about 45 cents) per 640 byte block per month!

The family resemblance between TELCOMP and M is just about recognizable 
especially if you were familiar with MUMPS-11.

The following is a fragment of TELCOMP code that was written on 12 
December 1971:

1.04 TYPE #,"ENTER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:-";MENU
1.05 TYPE FORM X FOR X=1:1:4 FOR END=10^15
1.06 READ GRNO IN FORM 15
1.065 DONE IF GRNO=END
1.07 TO STEP 1.06 IF GRNO>4
1.08 TO PART GRNO+1

2.01 DO PART 50
2.02 READ N,K
2.03 DO PART 51
2.04 TO PART 15

..

15.01 LINE FOR X=1:1:3
15.02 TYPE MINPL,MAXPL IN FORM 17
15.03 TYPE FORM 17
15.04 DO PART GRNO+15 FOR X=MNPL:STPL:MXPL

16.01 Y=(X^N)+K
16.02 Y1[X]=(((Y-MNPL)/(MXPL-MNPL))*2)-1

..

FORM 15
ITEM NUMBER?   #####
FORM 17
MINIMUM ##### MAXIMUM ######

Comparison with M:
1) No variable declaration.  No data typing (String support in TELCOMP 
III?)
2) Sparse local arrays.  No globals.  File I/O was conventional, I think.
3) For loop construct.
4) TYPE command identical to MUMPS-11
5) Part/Step numbering identical to MUMPS-11
6) Form Input/Output feature was unique to TELCOMP.
7) Do label+offset still exists in M today.

Clearly some of the origins of M can be seen in TELCOMP.  Does anyone 
know where the idea for globals originated?  What elements did other 
languages, such as JOSS bring to M?

Regards
Etienne Cherdlu


--

From: Jon Diamond 


This takes me back too! Oh for the good old days - when programmers were 
really programmers, disks were 2.5Mb in size and part numbers ranged from 
0.01 to 327.67 (or some such obvious number)!!!!

Well, the comment is not totally accurate - line numbers only had 2 
decimal places if you're being really picky.

BTW I used to know magic numbers - 84, 84*84 84*84*84 etc FWIW. I've now 
forgotten what they were, but I'm sure some of you MUMPS-11 people must 
remember? I do know why I needed to know them, but that's another 
story...

-- 

Jon Diamond, Cap Gemini UK
Go Proverb: "On the second line 6 die, 8 live"


------------------------------------------------------------------

32. How Exactly does $ORDER work?



The first thing to be aware of is "arrays" as they work in
other languages: when you have a "set" of components (like
the states in the USA) you want to use a method of reference
that allows you to manipulate the "set" as a unit when that
is convenient, and its members when you are dealing with
the properties of the individual members of that set.

Now, in languages like Pascal and C, you would create an
array with 50 members, and you would build a table:
  State[0] = (pointer to string) "Alabama"
  State[1] =                     "Alaska"
  ...
  State[49] =                    "Wyoming"
and probably some associated tables:
  Capital[0]  = "Montgomery"; Abbrev[0]  = "AL";
  Capital[1]  = "Juneau";     Abbrev[1]  = "AK";
  ...
  Capital[49] = "Cheyenne";   Abbrev[49] = "WY";

If you want to loop through these arrays, you don't need
any special functions: there are 50 elements in each,
and "for i = 0 to 49" or for (i = 0; i < 50; i++) will do
just fine.

In M[UMPS], arrays can be done in the same fashion, in which case
For i=0:1:49 would do just fine to loop through all states,
but it is much more common to use a different method of
indexing the array(s), using a string as an index.
You could store the array as:
   State["AL"] = "Alabama/Montgomery"
   State["AK"] = "Alaska/Juneau"
   ...
   State["WY"] = "Wyoming/Cheyenne"
(or, if your method of usage would make that more convenient
you could use State["Alaska"]="AK/Juneau"
State["Juneau"] = "AK/Alaska" for that matter).

However you "index" the array, the addressing will not be as
simple and straightforward as in traditional languages:
 - Your language processor will need to build an internal table to
   link storage positions to defined indexes.
 - This table will typically be invisible to the programmer,
   but you will want to query it with questions like:
    "i am at element "xxx", what is the next one that you have?"

Or, a simple loop across all states would look like:
 Set index="" For  Set index=$order(State(index)) Quit:index=""  do...
The function $order looks at this internal table, and tells you
what the next index is after the one that you specify.

So... At the first call, the specified index is "" (empty string),
and $order will look for the first entry in the table. Currently
this is "AK". After "AK", $order would find "AL", "AR", "AZ",
etcetera, up to "WY".
When called with the "last" index ("WY"), $order would return
the value "" (empty string) to signal that it could find no more
members.

Now, that seems fair for an array like this, and we'll always have
the same 50 members, and always find the same ones in the same
order, so why go through all this bother?
Well, that will become clear when you're dealing with sets that
are more dynamic in nature. Suppose that Good Old Fidel finally
steps down and Cuba requests membership as a state, there would
be a storm of protests, but let's assume that the request would
be approved. In most other languages, we would have to do a
lot of recoding to insert Cuba in the "proper" place in the
new array of states. In M[UMPS], all we have to do is
  Set State("CU")="Cuba/Havana"

$order(State("CT")) currently returns "DE", but after this
insertion, it would suddenly return "CU", and $order(State("CU"))
would return "DE": by the way of indexing that M[UMPS] does for
you "behind the scenes", indexes are always stored in alphabetic
order, and you won't have to worry where things are, or how
to get them into the proper sequence.

Of course, this is where it starts to matter what value you
use for an index:
 - quite often, you won't store a value "as it is entered"
   For instance, converting a proper name to "all upper case"
   (or all lower case for that matter).
   In this example, I used upper case only abbreviations,
   but if the full name of the state were the index, there
   is no predicting whether an end-user would type Alaska,
   alaska, ALASKA, or (very popular typo:) ALaska.
 - it matters which "property" you use for an index.
   If the input to your program is "the abbreviation", you'll
   be fine with this set-up, but if you're doing taxes, and
   the input to your program is the city to which the forms are
   to be sent (which is not even always the capital), you may
   very well want to build a support-table that has your
   "search" data as a subscript, and the essential index into
   the "real" table as a value

In this example, I also used another "idiosyncracy" of M[UMPS]:
I stored "State/Capital" into one single value. You would use
the function $Piece to separate out these values. Whether you
would use a set-up like I depicted above, or
   State(abbreviation,"Cap")=capital
   State(abbreviation,"Name")=name
is up to the needs of your application.

Of course (and I don't want to say that M[UMPS] is an object
oriented language, it's 30 years old now, and definitely showing
its age), this is a feature that you see a lot nowadays in
object oriented programming as well: you pass the complete object,
and leave it to the recipient-software to figure out which
properties of the object are interesting to it.

                                 [Ed de Moel]


---------------------------

33. M as a first computer language.

A lively debate concerning M as a first language for non computer types 
had varied and interesting opinions. Here are some of them;

--
From:  Paul Perrin

I think M is a *perfect* language to learn about fundamental programming 
principles.

Software engineering can come later - and is abusable in any language.

A computer handles three types of execution - sequential, conditional 
and iterative. Each type can be demonstrated (and learned) in M with 
_no_ messing about - no 'declarations', no 'introductions', no 
'directives', no compiling etc...

Experienced programmers _forget_ how they learned to program - Ken 
Knecht's 1979 definition of a string in 'Microsoft Basic' from the 
dilithium Press as 'a group of alphanumeric characters surrounded by 
double quotes' left me blank for weeks - what did he mean by group?

Character mode M is (at least) as good as the original 'basic's were for 
discovering what computers can 'decide' and 'think' and 'store'.

Don't listen to the experts -- they forget from whence they came.

Show him M (and follow up with Java).

Regards

Paul Perrin 

--

From:              fbdennis@REMOVETOREPLYmindspring.com (Floyd Dennis)
 
Paul Perrin  wrote:

>I think M is a *perfect* language to learn about fundamental programming 
>principles.

For some reason, it surprises me that I tend to agree. <g>  Before a
"beginner" can even begin to grasp such things as "structured
programming", "top-down", etc., they have to get a good feel for the
basics.  Things like Control, ALU, I/O, and Storage.  M brings you a
lot closer to the basics than many higher(?)-level languages.

Also - for educational purposes, interpreted languages are great.
Nothing is going to give a better instant gratification kick than
being able to type a command directly and get an immediate answer. <g>

><snip>
>Show him M (and follow up with Java).
>

*THAT* will send him running back to M in a hurry.  :)


Floyd Dennis



---------------------------

33. M as a web scripting language.

M has been used quite sucessfully as a web server / web scripting language as of late.
I look for more additions to the FAQ concerning this. 


First up is a description of the work done by Kevin O'Kane in this area:



M-based Internet Extentions / languages 


A. http://www.cs.uni.edu/~okane/ --   

	  Kevin C. O'Kane 
  		Resume 
  		Schedule and Contact Information 
  		This site contains a research Mumps interpreter for medical informatics
	applications. This interpreter  is for a subset dialect of Mumps and is
	designed to provide medical records access for Internet and Intranet Web
	servers.   This system works directly through the Web Server Cgi-Bin
	interface without the need for intermediate programs or files, unlike other
	systems. Versions are available for download for several systems as listed
	below.  The system is small, reliable, portable and extremely fast. A
	recent test of this system operating under Linux with the Apache web server
	on an unoptimized Pentium 120 gave data base response times in excess of 
	25 data base transactions per second. This result is scalable to larger
	processors and faster commercial servers. Due to the hierarchical nature of
	the data base, the data base is easily distributed among multiple servers. 
	See the documentation links below for complete details including
	downloading a prototype medical records system written in MumpsVM. 
	    Documentation       MumpsVM Language Manual Including Prototype Medical
	Record System 
	 
		[Steve Graham, <Steve.Graham@airmail.net>, January 26, 1998]



---------------------------  End MFAQ Section 1  ----------------------





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  ''   Gardner S. Trask III                    trask@world.std.com      
 O\/O  "First .cultured man on the Internet"   alt.culture.gard-trask
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