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Speech Library
Volume Number:7
Issue Number:3
Column Tag:Basic School

Adding Speech to QuickBasic

By William H. Ball, Braintree, MA

Adding Speech to QuickBASIC

After reading Dave Kelly’s review of QuickBASIC, I knew that the time was right to buy a Microsoft BASIC for my Mac. I wanted to create clickable apps, but I also wanted the convenience of an interpreter. Now I have both.

So far I am pleased with QuickBASIC. But I was surprised to find that Microsoft did not include Macintalk support in the compiler. Macintalk is a small resource on disk (about 30K) that can add a nice touch to your programs.

Clear Lake Research has an ad on a back page of the QB manual and offers libraries for speech, 3D graphics, and sorting, mathematical, and statistical functions. I’m sure their libraries are professionally done, well-designed and extremely useful, but I didn’t want to wait; after buying the compiler I wanted to add speech to my programs that afternoon!

Pure-Code Resource Libraries

Anyway, this article presents one way to write what Microsoft calls a “pure-code resource” (as opposed to an “impure-code resource”) for QB. Luckily, LightspeedC users can generate these resources through the Set Project menu item. The details on building your own libraries for QB are in the manual. Basically, you

• create a project to build a code resource of type MBPC

• add your libraries and QB’s BasicLib.lib

• write the code

• compile to a code resource

• use ResEdit to

• set the file creator type to MSBB or MSBD

• set the file type to MSBL

You can add more resources with ResEdit as long as you give each resource a different name and ID. Voila! Your own libraries for BASIC! You can then use the LIBRARY statement in QB to use your collection of routines. Microsoft provides 20 library support routines in BasicLib.lib, which comes with QB, to help you write your own libraries.

A Speech Library

The source for SAY() shows how you can make your Mac talk from QB. The QB program, “test speech,” tests the SAY() routine. Building additional routines for QB looks pretty easy, even for a non-programmer like me. Microsoft made the job a lot easier by providing oodles of technical information in the manual and over 50 example programs on a disk which comes with the compiler. MDS, MPWC, MPWP, and LightspeedC examples are included.

Note that the LightspeedC example on pp. 447-448 in the QB manual will not work if you try to compile it. Why? Because the function prototypes in “BasicLSC.h” as supplied on QB’s examples disk were redefined after the manual went to print. Each argument type in the header now has a leading underscore. You will also have to change some of the casts.

I thought about writing a number of separate speech routines, but instead included the speech rate and pitch in SAY()’s syntax. You may choose to write your own. I wanted to keep things simple, so right now my library “Speech.lib” only contains SAY(). How many routines make a library? Two?

BasicError() Problem?

I also wanted to include more error-checking in the program, but ran across a problem with QB. The QuickBASIC library support routine BasicError(), as documented on page 459 of the manual, does not seem to work correctly. The casual reader (me) would assume that calling BasicError(n), with n representing one of the error codes listed on pp 557-559, would return a QuickBASIC error dialog with the representative error message. This is not the case; instead, an “Unprintable error” dialog is shown on the screen when a syntax error is encountered by a pure-code resource. This happened even with an example LightspeedC program, “AddStrings.c” included on the Microsoft disk, which was intended to demonstrate a pure-code resource with error-trapping. Maybe I’m doing something wrong? I tried trapping the error, but couldn’t correctly identify it. I’d welcome corrections, additions or enlightenments.

The code follows Microsoft’s suggestions, saves some registers for BASIC, and gets three arguments; two integer values for the speech rate and pitch, and a string to speak. Most of the work is done by GetNextLibArg(), a support routine that also tells you what type of argument was read. IntegerArg() converts the argument to an integer, and LoadStringDesc() returns a string with its length.

The general syntax for SAY() is


Where rate is an integer or integer variable from 0 to

425, and determines how fast string is spoken

pitch is an integer or integer variable from 0 to

500, and determines how high or low to speak

string is a string variable or string enclosed in


Make sure MacinTalk is somewhere on the volume, or SAY() will return a “Syntax Error.” If you pass the wrong number or type of arguments -- La Bomba! In fact, if you think that QB is the same, tame BASIC environment you grew up with on your first home computer, forget it. Because you now have full access to the Mac’s ROMs, there are a lot more opportunities to cause those sizzling, screen-splitting system crashes.

Factory Typo?

I was unable to generate a library icon of the speech library for the decimal version of QuickBASIC until I did some poking around with ResEdit. According to the manual on p. 451, you should use ResEdit to set the library’s file creator type to MSBB (for binary) or MSBD (for decimal). Well, everything’s fine if you set the type for MSBB, but not for MSBD! All you get when you return to the desktop is a plain document icon, and not a library icon. If I called the library from a program, the decimal version wouldn’t even show the filename on a GetFile dialog. Microsoft does not provide screenshots of the different icons generated by QB, so you can’t tell the difference between a document, application or library on the desktop until you get familiar with the program.

ResEdit showed me the solution to the problem. If you Get-Info the decimal version, you’ll see that the creator type is MSBA, not MSBD! Is this a ResEdit typo from the factory? Anyway, I figured it was safer to change the library’s creator type to MSBA rather than change the decimal version’s creator type. Once I did that, the decimal version was able to recognize the speech library, and the library had a library icon (which is a different icon from the binary version. Why?).

Drove me crazy for a while.

Printer Hangup

A further problem you might run across in QB is that printer errors are not trapped well by the QB environment. If your printer is off-line, QB will hang if you ask it to print the current file. Putting your printer back on-line gets you going again. Most Mac programs seem to catch this one.

Altogether, it’s great to have an interpreter and compiler in the same environment. One thing I’d like to see in a future version is the ability to edit multiple files. Also, the compiler seems to be a bit untidy, as it can leave a bunch of temporary files on your disk if your compile is aborted. I also ran out of room on my hard disk after a file called “QuickBasic Settings” grew to over six megabytes in the System Folder. This happened after a crash or two, and after I trashed the file QuickBasic came up damaged but with a graceful exit.

Despite the fact that you can now go into La-La Land just as easily as in C or Pascal, if you look back at the capabilities of the early BASICs on mainframes and micros you’ll see that the present QB environment is very nice indeed -- and now talks to you!

Have a happy! And remember, practice safe computing! After November’s virus scare, you never know what you can catch after connecting with another computer.

THINK C Project and Code Type

/* Speech.c -- QB code resource for access to MacinTalk routines 
   Copyright (C)1988 by William H. Ball for MacTutor™ magazine
   Usage: SAY(rate,pitch,string) 
   where  [rate] is an integer or integer variable 
     [pitch] is an integer or integer variable 
     [string] is a string variable or string enclosed by quotes. 
   for example,
    hefty% = 100 : wimpy% = 300 : fast% = 200 : slow% = 100
          m$ = “Hello there”
          CALL SAY(slow%,hefty%,m$)
          CALL SAY(fast%,wimpy%,m$)         
          CALL SAY(100,100,”Hello there”)
          CALL SAY(200,300,”Hello there”)
 Caveats: Can cause bombs of ID 2 or ID 10 if you fail to pass the correct 
number or type of arguments.

#include “Macintalk.h”    /* LSC’s header          */
#include “BasicLSC.h”/* supplied with QB     */
PUBLIC VOID main() /* see QB manual p. 448*/
SpeechErr err;   /* error code*/
SpeechHandle theSpeech;   /* pointer to speech*/
Handle spOut;    /* speech handle  */

INT16   TempFlag,len,type,rate,pitch;
 /* INT16 == short */
StringPtr message; 

 SAVEREGS();/* Save BASIC’s A4 and A5 registers*/
 if ((err = SpeechOn(“”, &theSpeech)) != noErr) { return; }
 if ((type = GetNextLibArg(&valptr,&TempFlag)) != _INTARG) rate = 150;
 else rate = IntegerArg();
 if ((type = GetNextLibArg(&valptr,&TempFlag)) != _INTARG) pitch = 95;
 else pitch = IntegerArg();
 type = GetNextLibArg(&valptr,&TempFlag);
 if (type != _NULLARG) {
 if (type == _STRGARG) {
 if (TempFlag)
 spOut = NewHandle(0L);   /* allocate handle */
 MacinTalk(theSpeech, spOut);
 RESTREGS();/* Restore BASIC’s A4 and A5 registers*/

‘ QuickBASIC program tests SAY() pure-code resource routine.
‘ Copyright (C)1988 by William H. Ball for MacTutor™ magazine.

‘ Usage: SAY(rate,pitch,string-expression)

‘ Beware!  Will bomb with wrong number or type of arguments! 
‘ Make sure MacinTalk is on same volume, or SAY() won’t talk.

LIBRARY “Speechd.lib”                        
    PRINT “Let’s test the SAY() routine:”
    GOSUB talk

    rate = 0            ‘ declare integer and string variables
    pitch = 0
    message$ = “”

    INPUT “Enter something to say: “;message$
    INPUT “Enter a rate of speech between 0 and 425”;rate
    INPUT “Enter a pitch of speech between 0 and 500”;pitch

    ‘ Just hit Return? Use a default value
    IF rate = 0 THEN rate = 100
    IF pitch = 0 THEN pitch = 100

    CALL SAY(rate,pitch,message$) 
    PRINT  “another?”
    IF LEFT$(message$,1) = “y” THEN 
        GOSUB talk
    END IF


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