Category:Plain English

From Rosetta Code
Plain English
This programming language may be used to instruct a computer to perform a task.
Official website
Execution method: Compiled (machine code)
Garbage collected: No
Parameter passing methods: By reference
Type strength: Strong
Type expression: Explicit
Type checking: Static
Lang tag(s): plainenglish
See Also:
Listed below are all of the tasks on Rosetta Code which have been solved using Plain English.
Plain English is an example of a compiler. You may find the programming tasks that have been solved using it here.

Plain English is a programming language written during the winter of 2005-2006 that:

  • Has keywords like A, AN, and THE.
  • Lets you code what you're thinking.
  • Can compile itself in 3 seconds.

Plain English can be run from within its Integrated Development Environment (IDE) (see "Complete IDE download" below) or compiled to a self-contained Microsoft Windows .exe file.

Here is a list of what you must understand from the start:

Fully Implemented in Itself: It is a single executable, with one or more human readable libraries (also written in Plain English Programming Language) which produces a new stand alone .exe with your new program in it. It is NOT a compiler only that takes in source and produces compiled code. It is NOT an IDE only, that shells out to a compiler. It is both. There is NO complete source code in another language; the system was bootstrapped in a Pascal-like language (which is no longer available) and was later re-written entirely in Plain English. It is "Machine Code" Low Level: The bootstrap is very basic, only able to copy itself and add raw machine code in Intel hex format, make calls to the operating system, e.g.

Call "kernel32.dll" "SetFilePointer" with the file and 0 and 0 and 2 [file_end] returning a result number.

and call other DLLs e.g.

Call "hawk.dll" "Servo_SetServos" with 1 and the front knob's setting and the side knob's setting and 0 and 0 and 0 and 0 and 0 and 0 returning a number.

and it can do a few other things.

It is "English" High Level: From those humble beginnings, springs a language that can do things like:

To run:
Start up.
Clear the screen.
Use medium letters. Use the fat pen.
Pick a really dark color.
Start in the center of the screen.
Turn left 1/32 of the way.
Turn right. Move 2 inches. Turn left.
Refresh the screen.
Lighten the current color about 20 percent.
Add 1 to a count. If the count is 32, break.
Wait for the escape key.
Shut down.

Note that standard English punctuation, word types, and sentence structure are all used. There is a trend to make each sentence is own paragraph, but that is not required.

Compact: The entire download is less than a megabyte in size. It's a complete development environment, including a unique interface, a simplified file manager, an elegant text editor, a handy hexadecimal dumper, a native-code-generating compiler/linker, a library of general-purpose types, variables and routines, and even a wysiwyg page layout facility (that we used to produce the documentation). It is written entirely in Plain English. The source code (about 25,000 sentences) is included in the download. All the commands are in the alphabetic menus along the top of the IDE. E.g. to close a folder, after clicking on a drive letter and folder, click "C" and then "Close", or use the Alt- hot-keys like Alt-C.

Types Primitive types like number, etc.. are supported, as well as more complex types like "thing" which is a sort of object or list, and any number of user-defined types. Note however that "number" is a 32 bit integer and is /directly/ mapped to the CPU. E.g. addition is literally this in the language:

To add a number to another number:
Intel $8B85080000008B008B9D0C0000000103.

And yes, that is 80x86 machine code in Intel hex format. It decompiles to

mov eax, [ebp+8]	; $8B8508000000 -> load the current stack address + 8 into the accumulator
mov eax, [eax]  	; $8B00 -> load memory pointed to by accumulator into accumulator
mov ebx, [ebp+12]	; $8B9D0C000000-> load the current stack address + 12 into working register
add [ebx],eax     	; $0103 -> add accumulator to memory pointed to by working register

So the language has stacked pointers (all parameters are passed by reference) to the two numbers via a number to another number and then it calls this code which gets the first number, and adds it to the second. Hopefully this example shows how high level and low level Plain English is at the same time.

"The whole system is built on just two, compiler-defined types: BYTE and RECORD. All the other types are constructed from these, and are defined in the "Noodle" library {a file, loaded by the compiler}. The idea was to put as much as possible in the library, and as little as possible in the compiler. The compiler is aware of a few other types -- like NUMBER, STRING, SUBSTRING, THING -- mostly for memory management purposes, but all the other the type definitions are built up from BYTE and RECORD in the library." These are extended to support BYTE, WYRD, POINTER, FLAG, and RECORD.

Subset types give new names to existing types: e.g.

A count is a number.
A name is a string.

Constants or "literals" are also possible:

The copyright byte is a byte equal to 169.

As are conversion types:

A foot is 12 inches.
An hour is 60 minutes.

Variables Once a type has been declared, we can allocate a global, outside a routine:

The great foo is a number.

then values may be assigned, inside a routine

Put 0 into the great foo

or be passed by address...

Increment the great foo.

as a parameter to a routine.

To increment a number:
Add 1 to the number.

Note that variables can have multi-word names including spaces.

Local variables, with scope in their own routine only, are defined so simply they can be hard to see. Basically, you assign a value using an indefinite article (A, AN, ANOTHER, or SOME) in a statement. For example: Put 101 into some other course number. The local variable name there is "other course number" but "other course" also works as a "nickname". The variable's type is number. e.g. Increment the other course. will match To increment a number:

"All parameters passed to Plain English routines are passed by reference, though parameters passed to DLLs use the C convention (the order is reversed and "simple" types are passed by value)."

Routines Routines are defined by headers which terminate in a colon, followed by the body of the routine. Multiple headers can be provided in front of one routine, separated by semicolons:

To add a number to a count;
To increment a number by a count:

The language parses these into Monikettes: (1) add (2) [number] (3) in/into/to (4) [count] which, taken together make up the routines Moniker: add [number] in/into/to [count]

Matching procedure definitions to procedure calls is done in stages.

1. Higher-level types are reduced to compatible lower-level types, as necessary; and 2. Certain less-essential words are considered equivalent.

For example, the compiler will match this imperative sentence: Write the first name using the blue pen. with this routine header To write a string with a color: even though the source types "name" and "pen" are different (but compatible) with the target types "string" and "color", and even though the source preposition "using" is different than the target preposition "with".

Unless, of course, a more exact match is available, such as: To write a name from/given/with/using a pen: To write a name from/given/with/using a color: To write a string from/given/with/using a pen:

Type reductions proceed, recursively, from left to right, until a match is found (or all combinations have failed, which results in a compile-time error).

Decider: A type of routine which helps TO DECIDE IF something: by always returning SAY YES or SAY NO. The something will usually include ARE, BE, CAN, COULD, DO, DOES, IS, MAY, SHOULD, WAS, WILL, or WOULD. e.g.

To decide if a number is greater than another number:
If the first number is greater than the second number, say yes.
Say no.

Function: A routine that extracts, calculates, or otherwise derives a value from a passed parameter. Function headers take this form:

TO PUT something's something INTO a temporary variable:

Unlike procedures (which are called via imperative sentences) and deciders (which are implicitly called in the condition part of IF statements), functions are not usually called directly. Instead, the "something's something" is used as if it was a field in a record. Like a "box's center", which you won't find in the "box" record, because it is calculated by a function on demand.

Statements From the instruction manual (see link below):

(1) I really only understand five kinds of sentences: (a) type definitions, which always start with A, AN, or SOME; (b) global variable definitions, which always start with THE; (c) routine headers, which always start with TO, which can contain: (d) conditional statements, which always start with IF; and (e) imperative statements, which start with anything else.

(2) I treat as a name anything after A, AN, ANOTHER, SOME, or THE, up to:

(a) any simple verb, like IS, ARE, CAN, or DO, or (b) any conjunction, like AND or OR, or (c) any preposition, like OVER, UNDER, AROUND, or THRU, or (d) any literal, like 123 or "Hello, World!", or (e) any punctuation mark.

(3) I consider almost all other words to be just words, except for:

(a) infix operators: PLUS, MINUS, TIMES, DIVIDED BY and THEN; (b) special definition words: CALLED and EQUAL; and (c) reserved imperatives: LOOP, BREAK, EXIT, REPEAT, and SAY.

The noodle built into Plain English is simply not useful enough by itself, and therefore libraries were created to assist in writing Rosetta Code tasks in Plain English.

See also: A work in progress to normalize Plain English into a more standard compiler. For documentation on the language in general, see the instructions.pdf file in the documentation folder. The author objects (see the issues) a long rambling and unproductive (but educational, so productive in that sense) discussion of Plain English with it's author and proponents of a bare metal processor.

No. Library name No. Library name
1 output 2 things






This category has the following 3 subcategories, out of 3 total.

Pages in category "Plain English"

The following 118 pages are in this category, out of 118 total.