Review: Software Tools in Pascal

By R. S. Doiel, 2018-07-22 (updated: 2018-07-22, 1:39 pm, PDT)

This book is by Brian W. Kernighan and P. J. Plauger. It is an example of the type of books I find I re-read and want in my personal library. The book covers software construction through a series of programs written in pascal. It is about how these programs work, how to approach problems and write sound software. I was surprised I did not know about this book when I was browsing the Open Library this weekend. While Pascal was a popular in the 1980’s it has faded for most people in the early 21st century. This review maybe a small bit of nostalgia. On the other hand I suspect “Software Tools in Pascal” is one of the short list of computer books that will remain useful over the long run.

What’s covered

The book is organized around specific programs and their implementations. The implementations provided are simple and straight forward. Each section is followed by a set of “exercises” that extend the ideas shown in the section. In this way you could derive the modern equivalent of these tools.

The topics you build tools for in the text are filters, files, sorting, text patterns, editing, formatting, and macro processing.

If you want to follow the book along in Pascal then I think Free Pascal available in many Debian distributions including Raspbian on the Raspberry Pi is a good choice. Likewise Wirth’s Pascal is easy enough to port to other languages and indeed this would be a useful exercise when I re-read the book the next time.

The book presents a very nice set of text oriented programs to explore programming or re-connect with your programming roots.

Read the book