This issue, I would like to answer a number of questions that seem to keep popping up in the M[UMPS] community.
That is an interesting question: for the past five years, the "current" language standard used to be the one that we all knew as "ANSI X11.1-1990", then, last December, the new one was approved, the approval was appealed, the appeal was heard and denied, and a new appeal was announced...
So, where does that leave us?
At this point in time, it is safe to say that the current standard for the M[UMPS] language is ANSI X11.1-1995 (the one that was approved on 8 December 1995). If the appeal that has been announced is indeed filed, the standard will become "suspended" again, and from there on matters will depend on whether or not that appeal will be successful.
People who have to worry about the legal details in contracts would be wise to consider language enhancements like the MERGE command, functions like $NAME, $QLENGTH, $QSUBSCRIPT and reverse $ORDER, special variables like $PRINCIPAL, $DEVICE and $KEY, error trapping and windowing extensions and other structured system variables as "Type A Extensions" for a little while longer, but programmers who are working on products that will appear on the market in the near future would be equally wise to use those language extensions to their advantage.
Well, the "when" question is way too hard to answer. If we see "object Orientation" as a style of programming that can be achieved by sheer discipline, the obvious answer is that this can be done in ANSI standard M[UMPS] today, but that was most probably not the intent of those who have asked me this question over the past months...
The MDC has been working on Object Oriented M[UMPS] for a number of years now. The first (and highest) hurdle is still to agree on certain issues of definition:
And several more...
Some possible answers to these questions have appeared in articles in this journal, and I'm certain that more will follow.
Those who have access to UseNet (also known as NetNews) on the InterNet may have seen the discussions that the members of the Task Group on Object Oriented Programming are currently conducting. Currently, there are some general discussions going on in the news-group comp.lang.mumps and more detailed ones through the mailing-list mdc-oo, which is maintained by one of the members of the Task Group. In order to participate in the discussions in the news-group, just add the name of the M[UMPS] group to your list of subscriptions and to join the discussions on the mail-list, send an e-mail message to
containing the request:
and, of course, those who don't have access to the InterNet, can always subscribe to the (paper) mailings of the MDC.
This is a question that I get quite often. Every implementation has methods to create and modify routines, but those all are implementation-specific. And everyone who is trying to improve the performance and consistency of their software by generating code based on pre-defined information are attempting to create and store M[UMPS] routines...
All programmers who are involved in this kind of code genration will be pleased to know that, in October of last year, the MDC approved the commands RS[AVE] and RL[OAD] as standardized extensions to the language, so that routine creation and modification is no longer completely implementation-specific. Of course, it may be a while before all implementors will provide these commands, but the basis is there.
The RL[OAD] command copies the content of a routine into a local or global variable:
would store the text of the routine named ROUTINE into a local array called VARIABLE, in such a way that VARIABLE(1) contains the value of $TEXT(+1^ROUTINE), VARIABLE(2) the second line, etcetera, as many lines as there are in the routine.
would take the information in the local array called VARIABLE and store that as the routine named ROUTINE.
Adding a line to a routine is now as simple as:
KILL LOCAL RLOAD MYROUT:LOCAL SET LOCAL(1.5)=" ; This is inserted" RSAVE MYROUT:LOCAL
When RSAVEing the routine, the system will take the nodes in the array (in the sequence that $ORDER would encounter), and store them as successive lines (with integer line numbers) in the routines.
The RLOAD command, on the other hand, only affects those nodes in the array into which it actually stores information, hence:
KILL LOCAL SET LOCAL(1.5)=" ; This is inserted" RLOAD MYROUT:LOCAL RSAVE MYROUT:LOCAL
would work equally well.
In addition to the name of the routine and the array, some more parameters will become available. Although the exact keywords are not yet standardized, the general syntax will be:
Two keyword=value pairs that immediately come to mind, of course, would be to store a routine as "executeable code only", and the specification of which character-set to use when storing the routine.
Anyone who has worked with compiled languages will know that an expression like:
will cause code to be generated that will "branch away" as soon as one of the "or" components has shown a "true", or respectively, one of the "and" components has shown a "false", value.
In M[UMPS], expressions are evaluated strictly left-to-right, and every component of every expression is completely evaluated, unless it is explicitly stated that a part of an expression may be "skipped". At the moment, the only cases where parts may be skipped are in the context of the $SELECT function. Of course, the same seems to happen in the case of
but in those cases the "optimization" is really a feature of the concatenation of multiple commands that are each evaluated separately.
To answer the question: "Can't we do the Same?", I would say: Yes, of course. But we would need to specify explicit syntax and conditions for this optimization to happen, and we need to be extremely careful to remain "backward compatible", because there is a lot of software around that expects the naked indicator to be affected by the evaluation of each and every part of the various expressions that a routine has to go through.
I would welcome any ideas to generate technical proposals to add this type of optimization to the M[UMPS] language.
Ed de Moel is past chairman of the MDC and works with Jacquard Systems Research. His experience includes developing software for research in medicine and physics. Over the past ten years, Ed's has mostly focused on the production of tools for data management and analysis, and tools for the support of day-to-day operation of medical systems. Ed can be reached by e-mail.