9.14. Including Files

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You prepare your BASIC programs for ScriptBasic using some text editor. This is usually NOTEPAD under Windows operating systems and it is emacs or vi under UNIX. You enter the program line by line, but sometimes you may want to include other files into your program. One way is to use the copy and paste functionality of the editor. However this will lead unnecessary big text files and unmanageable projects. Instead you can use the INCLUDE command of ScriptBasic.

Whenever you want to include the file named `myinclude.bas' you should write

INCLUDE "myinclude.bas"

into your program. Although statements are not case sensitive, file names are on UNIX systems. On Windows systems the operating system preserves the case of the file names, but you can reference the file using any case letters.

If you want to maintain portability of your programs (and you usually should) use always lower case file names and reference them using lower case letters.

When you specify file names that reside in a different directory you can specify relative file names, or absolute file names including the path of the file. If `myinclude.bas' is in a subdirectory you should write:

INCLUDE "sudir/myinclude.bas"

Here we can mention another point of portability. UNIX uses the forward slash as file separator character. Windows command line interpreter use the back slash. In ScriptBasic you can use both separators on Windows and on UNIX as well. You can even mix them in a single path. We recommend that you use the forward slash character for the purpose.

If you use the back-slash characters in file names in ordinary BASIC strings like in the statement OPEN you usually have to double the character because this character plays the role of the escape character in strings. This is not the case for the include statement. You should write

REM a correct include statement
INCLUDE "subdir\myinclude.bas"


REM bad include statement
INCLUDE "subdir\\myinclude.bas"

will eventually fail to include the file.

Whenever you specify a relative directory, which is above the directory of the including file use the double dot notation of the parent directory, like

INCLUDE "../parentel.bas"

Whenever a relative file name is specified in an include statement the file name should be relative to the file that contains the include statement. For example you may have the three files:


C:\BASIC\myprog.bas C:\BASIC\INCLUDE\SYS\system.bas

The program `myprog.bas' includes the file `myinclude.bas' using the statement

INCLUDE "include/myinclude.bas"

The program `myinclude.bas' includes the file `system.bas' using the statement

INCLUDE "sys/system.bas"

The INCLUDE statement has another form:

INCLUDE mymodule.inc

This is similar to the format discussed above with the exception that there is no quote character around the file name. In this case ScriptBasic tries to locate the named file in one of the configured include directories. The file name in this case should not contain space. Such include files usually belong to binary modules that ScriptBasic can dynamically load, and the included files declare the function implemented in the binary module.

The statement INCLUDE is processed before the variables, numbers, string and other lexical elements are recognized. This may result some strange behavior. For example the code:

T$ = """this is a multi-line string that 
Include "otherfile.txt"
includes another file."""

is correct and results a string that contains the content of the file otherfile.txt. This may seem strange but it is the way ScriptBasic preprocessing handles the include directive.

Be aware of this feature as this may lead to strange errors when a multi-line string contains lines that start with the word include, import or use. Because nor the character i neither the character u has a special meaning back-slashed you can easily overcome the situation prepending a backslash \ character before the special word. For example:

T$ = """this is a multi-line string that 
\Include "otherfile.txt"
does not include another file."""

As your program goes larger and larger you split it up into included files. The code that includes them may include one file, including another file and so on. It may finally result some file included more than once. To avoid redefinition of thing and unnecessary code repetition ScriptBasic has another preprocessor statement named IMPORT.

IMPORT behaves the same way as INCLUDE does with the exception that it does not include the file if the file was already included by a previous INCLUDE or IMPORT preprocessor statement.

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