Karl Landström 2017-05-27 (edited 2023-09-24)
The purpose of this short introduction is not to teach the Oberon programming language but rather to show how Oberon programs are compiled with the OBNC compiler. It also assumes that OBNC is installed on your system.
An Oberon program consists of a collection of modules. Each module can contain declarations of constants, types, variables and procedures. A module can also contain a statement sequence with the purpose of initializing variables or starting the execution of the program. The smallest valid Oberon program is the empty module:
MODULE M; END M.
Of course, an empty module serves no purpose. A slightly more interesting example is the
Hello World program:
MODULE hello; IMPORT Out; BEGIN Out.String("hello, world"); Out.Ln END hello.
To create an executable program for the module hello, we first need to save it in a text document with the name
hello.obn. In a command-line interpreter, we then go to the directory which contains the file
hello.obn and compile the module with the command
An executable file with the name
hello should now have been created. If the program is run with the command
it should output
Note: On MS Windows the name of the executable file ends with
.exe and the program is run simply with the command
As far as the Oberon language is concerned all modules exist in a flat name space. In the module hello above, for instance, the imported module Out refers to a module in OBNC’s basic library. However, if a file named
Out.obn exists in the same directory as
hello.obn, that module will be used instead. To compensate for Oberon’s lack of module name spaces, OBNC uses a naming convention where non-basic library modules have a prefix.
The method for finding imported modules works like this: First OBNC searches the current directory. Then it searches the colon-separated paths in the environment variable OBNC_IMPORT_PATH. Finally it searches the library directory where OBNC is installed. If an imported module starts with a lower-case prefix, for instance libM, then OBNC also searches first-level subdirectories named
lib. The command
obnc-path prints the directory path for a module.
To keep identifiers at a reasonable length, a non-basic library module is typically imported without the prefix, using Oberon’s convenient import alias feature:
IMPORT M := libM;
Here is an example which uses the modules extArgs and extErr from the ext library. These modules are installed in a directory named
MODULE PrintArgs; IMPORT Args := extArgs, Err := extErr, Out; VAR i, res: INTEGER; arg: ARRAY 256 OF CHAR; BEGIN FOR i := 0 TO Args.count - 1 DO Args.Get(i, arg, res); IF res = 0 THEN Out.String(arg); Out.Ln ELSE Err.String("Argument "); Err.Int(i + 1, 0); Err.String(" was truncated by "); Err.Int(res, 0); Err.String(" character(s)"); Err.Ln; ASSERT(FALSE) END END END PrintArgs.