Author Message

Newsgroups: comp.lang.pl1,comp.answers,news.answers
Subject: PL/I Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Followup-To: comp.lang.pl1

Expires: 15 April 1999 00:00:00 GMT

Summary: This posting contains a list of Frequently Asked
        Questions (and their answers) about PL/I --
        Programming Language One.  It should be read by anyone
        wanting to read the newsgroup comp.lang.pl1.
        It is of interest to anyone wanting to read any
        of the comp.lang.* newsgroups.

Posting-Frequency: three-monthly (Jan Apr Jul Oct)
Last-Modified: 9 March 1999
Version: 1.10


(Q1) What is PL/I?

     PL/I is a general-purpose programming language, which
     is used for solving problems in a variety of fields
     such as commerce, science (including mathematics,
     physics, chemistry), engineering (incl. civil, electrical,
     aeronautics), medicine and so on.  It can be used for
     system programming, and the facilitites are such that
     it is rarely if ever necessary to resort to machine-language
     or assembly-language programming to solve problems.

     PL/I has outstanding facilities for commercial and business use.

     It has more power than Pascal, fortran 90, BASIC, C, and
     COBOL, and has comparable facilities to Ada.
     The main areas where PL/I is superior include interrupt
     handling, the built-in debugging aids, the macro
     processor facilities, string-handling and input-output
     (see below).

     The language has good documenting and self-documenting
     facilities;  programs are easy to read and to understand.
     It bears some resemblance to Fortran and BASIC.

     The language is suitable for beginners, as well as for
     anyone wanting to become a professional.

     There's a summary of what you'll find in PL/I at:


(Q2) On what systems is it available?

     PL/I is available on at least the following systems:

        IBM PC and compatibles (80x86).

        *  IBM VisualAge PL/I for OS/2: is available in 2 versions:
                Personal Edition        }
                Professional Edition    } Details at the bottom of this posting
                accompanied by the
                live editor LPEX
                ---available from IBM

        *  Liant Open PL/I, for 80x86 & Pentium running UNIX SVR3 and SVR4
                ---available from Liant Software Corporation,
                959 Concord Street,
                Framingham, MA 01701-4613,
                Tel. (508) 872-8700, Fax (508) 626-2221
                (their PL/I generally is available on Unix-based systems)

        * Windows NT -- available from Liant Software Corporation.

        * Windows NT -- available from IBM as VisualAge PL/I.

         IBM AS/400
                --- available from IBM.

        IBM mainframes
                --- available from IBM

        HP 9000 HP-UX
                --- available from Liant Software Corporation

        SPARC SunOS 4.x, Solaris 2.x
                --- available from Liant Software Corporation

        IBM RS/6000 AIX
                --- available from Liant Software Corporation (address above);
                --- also available from IBM as VisualAge PL/I.

        Data General AViiON with DG-UX
                --- available from Liant Software Corporation

       Digital Equipment Corp. on Open VMS and Alpha AXP systems
                ---available from Digital Equipment Corporation.
                ---There's a new compiler from UniPrise for these systems,
                   called "PL/I for Digital Unix".
                Check them out at
                <A HREF = " http://www.*-*-*.com/ ;> UniPrise </A>.

       Stratus Computer, Inc. under VOS on all their systems except AX/R-S.
                --- available from Stratus Computer, Inc.

       Wang systems.  Recent updates make the compiler Y2K compliant.
                --- available from Wang Laboratories, Billerica, Mass.

(Q3) How can I try out PL/I?

        Why not try out the demo copy at:


        There's also the original Digital Research PL/I for DOS.


        It's a subset of PL/I, of course, because it had to fit
        in 64K originally (I think).

        If that site is down, you can link to a mirror site at:

        http://www.*-*-*.com/ ~cfs/cpm

        Find the PCDOS section, and then check out DOWNLOADS.

        Be sure to download the utilities (including the linker)
        as well as the compiler and sample codes.

        You'll also need the compiler flags to use it, at:


        It you want the CP/M-86 PL/I compiler, go to the same site
        as mentioned above, and go to the PCDOS section, check out
        DOWNLOADS, and the CP/M-86 section.

        You can purchase the Personal PL/I compiler online amd download
        it in the USA only, from IBM.  Cost is $115 U.S.

        To order the compiler, go to:


        Select "Software", then select "Application Development", then
        select "Personal PL/I" from the pull-down list.

(Q4) What do the compilers provide?</H3>

        All compilers provide enhanced versions of the ANSI standard
        (the IBM AS/400 adheres to SAA rules).  There's a
        summary of what you'll find in PL/I at:


        Example PL/I source code, to implement the new built-in functions
        (on non-OS/2, non-IBM-Windows and non-AIX systems)

        The SEARCH built-in function:


        The SEARCHR built-in function at:


        and the VERIFY (3 argument version) and VERIFYR built-in functions at:


        (these are in plain text form).

        Further PL/I examples of a tutorial nature are an


        (an insertion sort), and a


        (a linked list creation procedure (under construction)).

        In each case, click on the keywords for an explanation.

        In the cases of IBM PL/I for OS/2, PL/I set for AIX, and
        Windows NT, some important new language features are provided
        and include:

        (a) strongly-typed list processing in which the pointers
            (handles) are bound to the structures with which they
            are linked;
        (b) ordinals;
        (c) user-defined types;
        (d) Unsigned integer type;
        (e) New DO loop options that cause the loop to
            terminate without overrunning the limit (specifically
            for ordinals and unsigned integers); and
        (f) A much-enhanced macro-processor.

        (this is not an exhaustive list)
        There are also some 120 new built-in functions, including
        extra-special DATE/TIME functions, string-handling
        functions, housekeeping functions (e.g.,
        where-am-I-called-from?), and ordinal functions
        (including a function to supply the name of an ordinal!).

(Q5) What textbooks are available?

        Some of the best include:

           R.A. Barnes,     PL/I for Programmers, North-Holland, 1979.
           J.K. Hughes,     PL/I Structured Programming, 3rd Ed., Wiley, 1986.
           G.F. Groner,     PL/I Programming in Technological Applications,
                            Books on Demand, Ann Arbor, MI, 1971.
           M.E. Anderson,   PL/I for Programmers, Prentice-Hall, 1973.
           D.R. Stoutemyer, PL/I Programming for Engineering & Science,
                             Prentice-Hall, 1971.
           R. Reddy & C. Ziegler, PL/I: Structured Programming and
                             Problem Solving, West, 1986, ISBN 0-314-93915-6.
                             Check out the Table of Contents:
           E. Sturm, PL/I fuer Workstations
                                (in German language),
                                Vieweg-Verlag (1997)
                                278 pages, ISBN: 3-528-24792-4
                See the table of contents at:

           R. Vowels,       <i> http://www.*-*-*.com/
                                    Introduction to PL/I, Algorithms, and
                             Structured Programming, 3rd Ed., Sept. 1997,
                             ISBN 0-9596384-9-0. 731 pages, A4 size.
                             Comes with a disc containing all the programs,
                             procedures, and functions from the book.  The
                             disc was first published in October 1996.

        The following are good PL/I reference manuals. (The
        new facilities of PL/I for OS/2 are highlighted.  Therefore
        you can use these manuals as references on either mainframe or PC system.)

        IBM, PL/I for OS/2: Language Reference, 1994 edition
        IBM, PL/I for OS/2: Built-in Functions, 1994 edition
        IBM, VisualAge PL/I Language Reference, Version 2.1, 1998 edition.

(Q6) Is there a newsletter?

        Yes. "The PL/I Connection" is published by Team PL/I.

        To see recent issues, view
                        April 1997 PL/I Connection and
                        September 1996 PL/I Connection.

(Q7) Is there a home page?

        There are at least eight of interest:
                        IBM's PL/I Home page.  Click on the
                        "about" button for the "What is PL/I" page.


                What is PL/I ? </A> gives you an overview of PL/I.

            http://www.*-*-*.com/ Liant Software Corporation

                (then click on the LPI button)

            http://www.*-*-*.com/ ;              Digital
                (then select OpenVMS ..., or you may find the direct
                 link quicker ->

           ftp://ftp.digital.com/pub/Digital/info/SPD/25-30-XX.txt  Digital

           ftp://ftp.digital.com/pub/Digital/info/SPD/25-30-21.txt  Digital

            http://www.*-*-*.com/   UniPrise

                        Yahoo's Language directory </A>
                        Or if you prefer, you can start on
                        Yahoo's main directory and take
                        it from there.  When the Languages display comes up, go beneath the
                        main list, where you'll find PL/I.  Click on that, and then you can
                        go to different sites.

            http://www.*-*-*.com/ ~sisasa/oasis/oasis-pli.spml
                        The PL/I Oasis lists several interesting sites.

                        Why not use PL/I </A>?

          Other possible sites are as follows:

        Japan:   http://www.*-*-*.com/

        If you know of any other home pages, please advise the author.

(Q8) Where can I find discussion groups?

     *  A PL/I newsgroup was established in January 1996
        following the passing on 3 January 1996 of voting for
        the newsgroup "comp.lang.pl1" (350 votes for, 18
        votes against).

           In the body of the note, enter:

           SUB PL1-L yourname

     *  On Compuserve, enter: go os2df1
           Then go to subsection 6: "Rexx and other languages".

        See also http://www.*-*-*.com/

     *  Russian: Discussion of PL/I in Russian takes place on

     *  German: Seems to take place at:    de.comp.sys.amiga.misc

     *  Or consider attending a SHARE PL/I presentation as either a
        spectator or presenter.  Postings appear from time to
        time in comp.lang.pl1

(Q9) How did PL/I originate?

     PL/I came into being as a result of an attempt to produce
     a revision of FORTRAN.  Such were the changes necessary that
     it was not possible to introduce the new features needed
     to bring FORTRAN up-to-date, and to be compatible with
     existing prgrams, that it was decided to introduce a
     new language that incorporated the best features of the
     then main languages FORTRAN, COBOL, and Algol.

     Originally, the new language was called "New Programming
     Language", or NPL.  However, as these initials were
     already taken by the National Physics Laboratory in
     Britain, the name became PL/I (for Programming Language One).

     The new language contained features not then seen before in
     a general-purpose programming language -- including interrupt
     handling, array operations, list processing, and a macro

     There is some controvesy over the name -- whether it is PL/I
     or PL/1.  The first manuals (for the first compiler, the
     IBM PL/I (F) compiler) called it PL/I, not PL/1. The ANSI
     standard calls it PL/I.  The title of the first reference
     manual is:
     "IBM System 360 PL/I (F) Language Reference Manual", 1966.

(Q10) What tools are available?

     Some are: [this question is under construction]

     PL/I Analyzer is a reverse engineeering and re-engineering tool,
     available from


     Leverage Technologies, 6701 Democracy Blvd,
     Suite 300, Bethesda MD 20817, U.S.A.       Tel (301) 571-2431

     Version 2.0 is the latest, with Year 2000 diagnosis.
        Leverage has also released PLI-2000, a tool for locating
        Year 2000 problems.

        LevTech provide tools and services for Software Maintenance, legacy
        Software reengineering and the Year 2000 (Y2K, Millennium) Problem
        including PL/I and Natural/Adabas.

     MicroFocus offers tools to accompany PL/I for OS/2.  For more infomation,
     contact them at Suite 400, 2465 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303, U.S.A.
     Visit:     http://www.*-*-*.com/

     PLIFORM is a PL/I source code formatter, available from
     Magicon, Inc.  You'll find them at:
     909 University Ave, Suite 22, Los Gatos, CA 95030-2345, U.S.A.

     Peter Osterman's PL/I source code reformatter.

        The PL/I source code reformatter for Windows (formpli3.exe,
        414k self extracting file) created by Peter Ostermann of Germany
        and made available by the IBM Team PL/I members,

        The PL/I source code reformatter at:


        can help make jumbled code more readable by putting statements
        on separate lines and pointing out the nesting levels by indention.

        The reformatter is a standalone product, is easy to use, and
        does the job in a few seconds. It requires just one megabyte
        of disk space, so give it a try.

        Visit:   http://www.*-*-*.com/

        for more information and download on Peter's personal web page.

(Q11) What's happening?  What conferences?

     Find out <A HREF = "WHATS_NEW.htm"> What's New? (under construction)

(Q12) Where can I read about PL/I?

     The URL http://www.*-*-*.com/ ~mclapper/

     is a white paper on object-oriented PL/I programming.
     An interesting article on PL/I appeared in the Enterprise
     Systems Journal in December 1995.  You can view Lou Marco's
     "In Praise of PL/I" at:


     Why not take a look at the paper


     Power vs Adventure -- PL/I and C </A> ?

To order PL/I:

        You can now order - and receive - IBM's PL/I for Windows online!  Check out
 the Electronic Showcase Delivery page at


 There is also a link to this from the PL/I home page.

 ESD is currently a pilot program and is available in EMEA countries and
 the US.

    You read this in http://www.*-*-*.com/

Mon, 10 Sep 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 [ 1 post ] 

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