New users – getting started with RISC OS
If you are a new RISC OS user, the way the system works may seem a little confusing compared to other operating systems that you might be accustomed to – such as the touch interfaces found on phones and tablets, or even other systems that use a keyboard and mouse, like Windows, MacOS, and Linux-based platforms.
A good starting point to learning how the operating system works might be the RISC OS User Guide, a printed manual that covers everything from the very first steps, through to detailed tutorials of Paint and Draw – two standard applications supplied with RISC OS.
If you prefer video guides, another option is the RISC OS Direct video series. These are aimed at first time users who are trying out a distribution of RISC OS that bears the same name, but many principles described in them will be applicable to all versions of the operating system. So far, the published videos are:
- Episode 1 – Getting started with RISC OS
- Episode 2 – Setting up and user interface
- Episode 3 – Gaming and emulation
- Episode 4 – Networking
Advanced users – programming and related
For more advanced users who want to try their hand at programming on RISC OS, it may again seem rather different to other systems – for example, RISC OS uses a co-operative multitasking system, rather than a pre-emptive one. In very simple terms, that means each multitasking program has to willingly pass control to the system at regular intervals. It’s possible to write programs that do this in BBC BASIC, a programming language that comes built-in as part of RISC OS, or other languages such as C.
If you wish to program in BBC BASIC, a good starting point is the comprehensive BBC BASIC Reference Manual, over 500 pages of detailed information about how to use the language. Important companions to this if you want to write software that runs in the desktop are:
- The Programmers Reference Manual (PRM), which is both an online resource and supplied as a PDF if you purchase the Desktop Development Environment (DDE).
- The Style Guide, which explains how to write software in such a way that the user is presented with a consistent experience, and is also available as a PDF with the DDE, and is available as a printed book.
There is also a wealth of information online provided by third parties, and some of this is linked below. This is not broken down by topic, or by how advanced it may be, but in alphabetical order of whoever has provided or uploaded it. The internet is a very large resource, so there will inevitably be things that I haven’t included – if there is something you think I’m missing, please let me know and I will consider it for inclusion. Please also note that over time things may change – information may go out of date, links may change or simply no longer exist, and so on. This is obviously out of my control.
James Hobson – C development video series
- Part 1: Getting the stuff you need
- Part 2: Hello world
- Part 3: C basics
- Part 4: First WIMP app
- Part 5: More C, and making your life easier
- Part 6: WIMP windows
- Part 7: Window content and the Shared C Library
- Part 8: Templates and mouse events
- Part 9: Application directories and the icon bar
- Part 10: Making menus
Paolo Fabio Zaino
- Installing the ROOL Desktop Development Environment
- Using the Acorn/ROOL Desktop Debugging Tool – part 1
- Introduction to the ARM AIF object file format
Additional posts on this topic from Paolo can probably be found on his site with the tag programming-on-risc-os.