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Which Assembler Poll
by Cactus/Oxyron/Padua

This opinion poll is about which assembler people prefer using when coding their releases... I have asked several coders which assembler are they used to and why do they think it's the best one? What is so special about it in comparison to other assemblers? So here you are...


"First I've used a monitor called 'Hexmon' which was located $8000-$bfff, a tiny bit later Action's monitor, later 'Turbo Assembler', later 'Turbo Assembler' for two C64s. Bigfoot did some fine communication programs for PC->C64, there I used a texteditor with Taboo's 'Tasm'."

I have asked BBT why did he change his preferences so often?

"This was in a period of about 6 years. :) So not that often... I used the best software I could, if a better came I changed the old one. Luckily I was quite close to the traffic and had good coder friends, so on parties I could check the newest technics - later I worked a lot with Bigfoot, who DID these new technics. :) Whatever, fine time it was."


"Dasm (crossassembler). It sort of sucks by default (errorhandling etc.) so have had to modify it several times but it was the first assembler I encountered that handled all of these quite problemfree: different physical/logical offset code (fastloader drivecode), macros, repeated/generated data statements. I can't in good conscience recommend this to anyone, though. :)"

So why exactly does he use this one?

"Every time I've tried some other assembler it doesn't do the things I need as conveniently as 'DASM' does, or not at all. And after all my modifications (errorhandling etc.) it's actually quite decent. But it's not politically correct to recommend DASM to others. :)"


"Being used to 'Turbo Assembler' on C64 for small testroutines and the cartridge mon for even smaller stuff. Used 'ACME' on Amiga, DOS and Linux for a long time, switched to 'DreamAss' now ( Mostly switched due to having the coder by side and fullfill our wishes. Also we are looking for an assembler which is more like a compiler with optimizer to enhance our teamwork in the end - IF this works out, we don't even know yet. :) For anything which has more than some 10-20k of real code, get a crossassembler which you like. 'ACME' is a very good start. :)"


"Turbo Assembler, why? What else could you need? Other than AR monitor or SMON. :) I really like the ones in 'Coderz Orgasm 3', the ones with the undocumented opcodes. Very handy!"


"I always use 'Turbo Assembler v5.? (a hacked version by the Gang) and the Action Replay monitor. No REU or other extraordinary tools. Why? Because I'm too lazy spending time on learning different tools, and the tools I have are simply good enough for making the demos and progs that I want."


"I use a little changed version of the 'INPUT 64 Assembler' for about 16 years now (!). It uses exactly the same shortkeys like the usual "Turbo Pascal Editor" back in 1988 then, so it was the easiest way for me to handle sources. You can use macro-assembling, source-includes and also use the memory of a C128 and there is no disturbing menu like in other assemblers, so I like it best."

Lubber, asked if he would recommend this assembler to other coders, told me:

"I would recommend it for beginning C64-coders because of its very easy use (if you know the handful shortkeys), but I think most of the 'Turbo Assembler' coders will say the same for "their" assembler. A little disadvantage is the fact that "my" assembler doesn't crunch the sourcecode, but I never had problems with this in my entire C64 coding life... :)"


"Over the years I have used several different assemblers. '6510+' is a BASIC extension - you write your machine code as a BASIC program, and then use the extra commands to assemble and check it. It has some advantages, like linking common routines and being able to test short routines in memory. It also leaves the $C000 area clear.

'TURBO ASSEMBLER' uses a different approach, acting like a text editor. Again, you can easily import common routines and also the block commands make it easy when you need a similar section of code. However, it is harder to test code and the $C000 area is used by the program. But it is also the assembler I have used the most. I also used it with the Falco Paul/20CC music player, where you have to edit your music as data in the assembler rather than in a proper editor.

'TURBO MACRO PRO' is very similar to 'Turbo Assembler', although the version I am currently using has one main advantage. I use the REU version, allowing me to return from the code using RESTORE and have the extra memory for a big source file without disturbing the data. This is the assembler used for the 'Scene World' magsys developed by Macbeth, and while I like it for improving the magsys I have not used it for my own work yet.

'GEOASSEMBLER' also runs better with the REU. One of the big advantages is the 'GEODEBUGGER', which allows you to step or trace through your code. I have only developed short routines with it, and my attempts at 'GEOS' programming failed.

So, in conclusion, I code my demos with either '6510+' or 'TURBO ASSEMBLER', I've compiled music in 'TURBO ASSEMBLER', I work on the 'Scene World' magsys in 'TURBO MACRO PRO'. It's hard to say which is best, only which I prefer. Overall it has to be 'TURBO ASSEMBLER'."


"I am used to 'TASM'. Since around 1992 I code everything in it. The main reason for me using it is that during those 12 years I got extremely used to it. Recently I tried the crossasm+emu way, but it felt very very uncomfortable. When coding on the real thing I can have my fingers on the C64's veins, and feel every little beat. I can try my code right after assembling it, I can look into the mem, debug with my AR, etc. The only thing I miss is: fast I/O. I have overcome the 64k mem limit by using a C128 together with Lynchbit's 'VDC asm', which is able to utilize the extra 64k mem of the VDC chip of the 128. I know that cross compiling has a lot of advantages, but coding that way makes me feel.. like driving a real car through a VR helmet. Hell yes... It's not the real thing. :) Besides this I know that working on a PC is faster, easier... But not for me. :)"


"Of the ones I've used until now (FC3 monitor, AR monitor, Assblaster, Turbo Assembler (2534 different versions), dasm (x-asm) and dreamass (x-asm)), I prefer 'dreamass', which is what I use now. Using a cross-assembler makes it faster and easier to write code (you can choose your own editor, use makefiles, use the whole memory etc.), and 'dreamass' is the best one I've found so far. The only other one I've really used, 'dasm', sucks at error reporting, so it's almost unusable. Also, you have to admit that 'dreamass' is a great name, not quite up there with 'assblaster', of course, but good enough for me."


"My favourite assembler on C64 would be '6510+'. It was the first one I tried (only one I had) so I stuck with it and too lazy to learn any others. Seems to have better offset assembly than 'Turbo Assembler' and also has built in help. If there is something quick and nasty to be written I may use 'Turbo Assembler' only because it is in the current Retro Replay version I use. These days I normally use 'ACME', again because it is the first one I used. Has most of the stuff I need and easy to use. Maybe not the best featured but works well enough. The joys of cross-assemblers."

Stryyker, asked if there was anything special for him about that assembler in comparison to other ones, answered:

"No. First ones I tried on the relevant platforms that could do what I wanted. I stuck with them."


"There's no doubt that for non-crossdevelopment there is only one - 'Turbo Assembler'. Featureful and with excellent editor. However, I used mainly 'Turbo Assembler Macro' because of its macro functions and assembler loops that allowed for making tables without actually keeping lots of .byte $xx,...$xx in the code. For crossdevelopment I use 'Acme/CA65'+vim+make+unix textutils."

OK. That's it. Choose on your own... Questions asked and answers collected by...


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