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The article below gives Part 1 of 2 of a complete tutorial and examples for passing all types of parameters between compiled Basic and Assembly Language.
The examples in BAS2MASM (but not the tutorial section) are also available in this database as multiple separate ENDUSER articles, which can be found as a group by querying on the word BAS2MASM.
HOW TO PASS PARAMETERS BETWEEN Basic AND ASSEMBLY LANGUAGEThis document explains how Microsoft Basic compiled programs can pass parameters to and from Microsoft Macro Assembler (MASM) programs. This document assumes that you have a fundamental understanding of Basic and assembly language.
Microsoft Basic supports calls to routines written in Microsoft Macro Assembler, FORTRAN, Pascal, and C. This document describes the necessary syntax for calling Microsoft assembly-language procedures and contains a series of examples demonstrating the interlanguage calling capabilities between Basic and assembly language. The sample programs apply to the following Microsoft products:
For more information about interlanguage calling, refer to the "Microsoft Mixed-Language Programming Guide," which is available with C 5.00 and 5.10 and MASM 5.00 and 5.10.
This article is continued in the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
MAKING MIXED-LANGUAGE CALLS =========================== Mixed-language programming always involves a call; specifically, it involves a function or subprogram call. For example, a Basic main module may need to execute a specific task that you would like to program separately. Instead of calling a Basic subprogram, however, you can call an assembly-language procedure. Mixed-language calls require multiple modules. Instead of compiling all of your source modules with the same compiler, you use different compilers. In the example mentioned above, you would compile the main- module source file with the Basic compiler, assemble another source file (written in assembly language) with the assembler, and then link together the two object files. There are two types of routines that can be called. Their principal difference is that some return values, and others do not. (Note: In this document, "routine" refers to any function or subprogram procedure that can be called from another module.) Note: Basic DEF FN functions and GOSUB subroutines cannot be called from another language. Basic has a much more complex environment and initialization procedure than assembly language. Because of this, Basic must be the initial environment that the program starts in, and from there, assembly-language routines can be called (which can in turn call Basic routines). This means that a program cannot start in assembly language and then call Basic routines. THE Basic INTERFACE TO ASSEMBLY LANGUAGE ======================================== The Basic DECLARE statement provides a flexible and convenient interface to assembly language. When you call a routine, the DECLARE statement syntax is as follows: DECLARE FUNCTION <name> [ALIAS "aliasname"][CDECL][<parameter- list>] The <name> is the name of the function or subprogram that you want to call as it appears in the Basic source file. The following are the recommended steps for using the DECLARE statement when calling assembly language: 1. For each distinct assembly-language routine you plan to call, put a DECLARE statement in your Basic source file before the routine is called. 2. If you are calling a MASM routine with a name longer than 31 characters, use the ALIAS feature. The use of ALIAS is explained below. 3. Use the parameter list to determine how each parameter is to be passed. The use of the parameter list is explained below. 4. Once the routine is properly declared, call it just as you would a Basic subprogram or function. NAMING-CONVENTION REQUIREMENTS ============================== The term "naming convention" refers to the way that a compiler alters the name of the routine before placing it into an object file. It is important that you adopt a compatible naming convention when you issue a mixed-language call. If the name of the called routine is stored differently in each object file, then the linker will not be able to find a match. Instead, it will report an unresolved external. Microsoft compilers place machine code into object files, but they also place into object files the names of all routines and common blocks that need to be accessed publicly. (Note: Basic variables are never public symbols.) That way, the linker can compare the name of a routine called in one module to the name of a routine defined in another module, and recognize a match. Basic and MASM use the same naming conventions. They both translate each letter of public names to uppercase. Basic drops the type declaration character (%, &, !, #, $). Basic recognizes the first 40 characters of a routine name, while MASM recognizes the first 31 characters of a name. CALLING-CONVENTION REQUIREMENTS =============================== The term "calling convention" refers to the way that a language implements a call. The choice of calling convention affects the actual machine instructions that a compiler generates to execute (and return from) a function, procedure, or subroutine call. The use of a calling convention affects programming in two ways: 1. The calling routine uses a calling convention to determine in what order to pass arguments (parameters) to another routine. The convention can usually be specified in a mixed-language interface. 2. The called routine uses a calling convention to determine in what order to receive the parameters that were passed to it. In most languages, this convention can be specified in the routine's heading. Basic, however, always uses its own convention to receive parameters. Basic's calling convention pushes parameters onto the stack in the order in which they appear in the source code. For example, the Basic statement CALL Calc(A, B) pushes argument A onto the stack before it pushes B. This convention also specifies that the stack is restored by the called routine just before returning control to the caller. (The stack is restored by removing parameters.) USING ALIAS =========== The use of ALIAS may be necessary because assembly language places the first 31 characters of a name into an object file, whereas Basic places up to 40 characters of a name into an object file. Note: You do not need the ALIAS feature to remove type declaration characters (%, &, !, #, $). Basic automatically removes these characters when it generates object code. Thus, Fact% in Basic matches FACT in assembly language. The ALIAS keyword directs Basic to place aliasname into the object file, instead of <name>. The Basic source file still contains calls to <name>. However, these calls are interpreted as if they were actually calls to aliasname. This is used when a Basic name is longer then 31 characters and must be called from assembly language, or the assembly language routine name contains characters that are illegal in a Basic subroutine name. For example: DECLARE FUNCTION QuadraticPolynomialFunctionLeastSquares% ALIAS "QUADRATI" (a, b, c) In the example above, QUADRATI, the aliasname, contains the first eight characters of the name QuadraticPolynomialFunctionLeastSquares%. This causes Basic to place QUADRATI into the object file, thereby mimicking MASM's behavior. USING THE PARAMETER LIST ======================== The <parameter-list> syntax is displayed below, followed by explanations of each field: [BYVAL | SEG] <variable> [AS <type>]..., Note: You can use BYVAL or SEG, but not both. Use the BYVAL keyword to declare a value parameter. In each subsequent call, the corresponding argument will be passed by value. Note: Basic provides two ways of "passing by value." The usual method of passing by value is to use an extra set of parentheses, as in the following: CALL HOLM((A)) This method actually creates a temporary value, whose address is passed. In contrast, BYVAL provides a true method of passing by value, because the value itself is passed, not an address. Only by using BYVAL will a Basic program be compatible with an assembly-language routine that expects a value parameter. Use the SEG keyword to declare a far reference parameter. In each subsequent call, the far (segmented) address of the corresponding argument will be passed. You can choose any legal name for <variable>, but only the type associated with the name has any significance to Basic. As with other variables, the type can be indicated with a type declaration character (%, &, !, #, $) or the implicit declaration. You can use the "AS type" clause to override the type declaration of <variable>. The type field can be INTEGER, LONG, SINGLE, DOUBLE, STRING, a user-defined type, or ANY, which directs Basic to permit any type of data to be passed as the argument. For example: DECLARE FUNCTION Calc2! (BYVAL a%, BYVAL b%, BYVAL c!) In the example above, Calc2! is declared as an assembly-language routine that takes three arguments: the first two are integers passed by value, and the last is a single-precision real number passed by value. ALTERNATIVE Basic INTERFACES ============================ You can specify parameter-passing methods without using a DECLARE statement or by using a DECLARE statement and omitting the parameter list. 1. You can make the call with the CALLS statement. The CALLS statement causes each parameter to be passed by far reference. 2. You can use the BYVAL and SEG keywords in the actual parameter list when you make the call, as follows: CALL Fun2(BYVAL Term1, BYVAL Term2, SEG Sum) In the example above, BYVAL and SEG have the same meaning that they have in a Basic DECLARE statement. When you use BYVAL and SEG this way, however, you need to be careful because neither the type nor the number of parameters will be checked as they would be in a DECLARE statement. SETTING UP THE ASSEMBLY-LANGUAGE PROCEDURE ========================================== The linker cannot combine the assembly-language procedure with the calling program unless compatible segments are used and the procedure itself is declared properly. The following points may be helpful: 1. If you have version 5.00 of the Macro Assembler, use the .MODEL directive at the beginning of the source file; this directive automatically causes the appropriate return to be generated (NEAR for small or compact model, FAR otherwise). Modules called from Basic should be declared as .MODEL MEDIUM. If you have a version of the assembler earlier than 5.00, declare the procedure FAR. 2. If you have version 5.00 or later of the Microsoft Macro Assembler (MASM), use the simplified segment directives .CODE to declare the code segment and .DATA to declare the data segment. (Having a code segment is sufficient if you do not have data declarations.) If you are using an earlier version of the assembler, the SEGMENT, GROUP, and ASSUME directives must be used. 3. The procedure label must be declared public with the PUBLIC directive. This declaration makes the procedure available to be called by other modules. Also, any data you want to make public to other modules must be declared as PUBLIC. 4. Global data or procedures accessed by the routine must be declared EXTRN. The safest way to use EXTRN is to place the directive outside any segment definition (however, near data must go inside the data segment). PRESERVING REGISTERS ==================== There are several registers that need to be preserved in a mixed- language program. These registers are as follows: CX, BX BP, SI, DI, SP CS, DS, SS, ES The direction flag should also be preserved. ENTERING THE ASSEMBLY-LANGUAGE PROCEDURE ======================================== The following two instructions begin the procedure: push bp mov bp, sp This sequence establishes BP as the "framepointer." The framepointer is used to access parameters and local data, which are located on the stack. SP cannot be used for this purpose because it is not an index or base register. Also, the value of SP may change as more data is pushed onto the stack. However, the value of the base register BP will remain constant throughout the procedure, so that each parameter can be addressed as a fixed displacement off of BP. The instruction sequence above first saves the value of BP because it will be needed by the calling procedure as soon as the current procedure terminates. Then BP is loaded with the value of SP to capture the value of the pointer at the time of entry to the procedure. ALLOCATING LOCAL DATA (OPTIONAL) ================================ An assembly-language procedure can use the same technique for implementing local data that is used by high-level languages. To set up local data space, decrease the contents of SP in the third instruction of the procedure. (To ensure correct execution, you should always increase or decrease SP by an even amount.) Decreasing SP reserves space on the stack for the local data. The space must be restored at the end of the procedure, as shown below: push bp mov bp, sp sub sp, space In the text above, space is the total size in bytes of the local data. Local variables are then accessed as fixed, negative displacements off of BP. For example: push bp mov bp, sp sub sp, 4 . . . mov WORD PTR [bp-2], 0 mov WORD PTR [bp-4], 0 The example above uses two local variables, each of which is 2 bytes in size. SP is decreased by 4, since there are 4 bytes of local data. Later, each of the variables is initialized to 0 (zero). These variables are never formally declared with any assembler directive; the programmer must keep track of them manually. Local variables are also called dynamic, stack, or automatic variables. EXITING THE PROCEDURE ===================== Several steps may be involved in terminating the procedure: 1. If any of the registers SS, DS, SI, etc., have been saved, these must be popped off the stack in the reverse order that they were saved. 2. If local data space was allocated at the beginning of the procedure, SP must be restored with the instruction MOV SP, BP. 3. Restore BP with POP BP. This step is always necessary. 4. Finally, if you are not using CDECL and the C calling conventions, return to the calling program with the RET <n> instruction (where <n> is the number of bytes to pop off the stack) to adjust the stack with respect to the parameters that were pushed by the caller. ASSEMBLY-LANGUAGE CALLS TO Basic ================================ No Basic routine can be executed unless the main program is in Basic, because a Basic routine requires the environment to be initialized in a way that is unique to Basic. MASM will not perform this special initialization. However, a program can start up in Basic, call an assembly-language function that does most of the work of the program, and then call Basic subprograms and functions as needed. The following rules are recommended when you call Basic from assembly language: 1. Start up in a Basic main module. You must use the DECLARE statement to provide an interface to the assembly-language module. 2. In the assembly-language module, declare the Basic routine as EXTRN. 3. Make sure that all data is passed as a near pointer. Basic can pass data in a variety of ways, but is unable to receive data in any form other than near reference. Note: With near pointers, the program assumes that the data is in the default data segment. If you want to pass data that is not in the default data segment, then first copy the data to a variable that is in the default data segment. Note: Microsoft Basic Professional Development System (PDS) version 7.10 allows a Basic routine to be passed parameters by value. THE MICROSOFT SEGMENT MODEL =========================== If you use the simplified segment directives by themselves, you do not need to know the names assigned for each segment. However, versions of the Macro Assembler earlier than 5.00 do not support these directives. With earlier versions of the assembler, you should use the SEGMENT, GROUP, ASSUME, and ENDS directives equivalent to the simplified segment directives. The following table shows the default segment names created by the .MODEL MEDIUM directive used with Basic. Use of these segments ensures compatibility with Microsoft languages and will help you access public symbols. This table is followed by a list of three steps, illustrating how to make the actual declarations, and a sample program. Directive Name Align Combine Class Group --------- ---- ----- ------- ----- ----- .CODE name_TEXT WORD PUBLIC 'CODE' .DATA _DATA WORD PUBLIC 'DATA' DGROUP .CONST CONST WORD PUBLIC 'CONST' DGROUP .DATA? _BSS WORD PUBLIC 'BSS' DGROUP .STACK STACK PARA STACK 'STACK' DGROUP The directives in the table refer to the following kinds of segments: Directive Description of Segment --------- ---------------------- .CODE The segment containing all the code for the module. .DATA Initialized data. .DATA? Uninitialized data. Microsoft compilers store uninitialized data separately because it can be more efficiently stored than initialized data. (Note: Basic does not use uninitialized data.) .FARDATA and .FARDATA? Data placed here will not be combined with the corresponding segments in other modules. The segment of data placed here can always be determined, however, with the assembler SEG operator. .CONST Constant data. Microsoft compilers use this segment for such items as string and floating-point constants. .STACK Stack. Normally, this segment is declared in the main module for you and should not be redeclared. The following steps describe how to use this table to create directives: 1. Refer to the table to look up the segment name, align type, combine type, and class for your code and data segments. Use all of these attributes when you define a segment. For example, the code segment is declared as follows: _TEXT SEGMENT WORD PUBLIC 'CODE' The name _TEXT and all the attributes are taken from the table. 2. If you have segments in DGROUP, put them into DGROUP with the GROUP directive, as in the following: GROUP DGROUP _DATA _BSS 3. Use ASSUME and ENDS as you would normally. Upon entering routines called directly from Basic, DS and SS will both point to DGROUP. The following example shows an assembly-language program without the simplified segment directives from version 5.00 of the Microsoft Macro Assembler: test_TEXT SEGMENT WORD PUBLIC 'CODE' ASSUME cs:test_TEXT PUBLIC Power2 Power2 PROC push bp mov bp, sp mov ax, [bp+6] mov cx, [bp+8] shl ax, cl pop bp ret 4 Power2 ENDP test_TEXT ENDS END COMPILING AND LINKING ===================== After you have written your source files and resolved the issues raised in the above sections, you are ready to compile individual modules and then link them together. Before linking, each program module must be compiled or assembled with the appropriate compiler or assembler. ACCESSING PARAMETERS ==================== PARAMETER-PASSING REQUIREMENTS ============================== Microsoft compilers support three methods for passing a parameter: Method Description ------ ----------- Near reference Passes a variable's near (offset) address. This method gives the called routine direct access to the variable itself. Any change the routine makes to the parameter will be reflected in the calling routine. Far reference Passes a variable's far (segmented) address. This method is similar to passing by near reference, except that a longer address is passed. By value Passes only the variable's value, not address. With this method, the called routine knows the value of the parameter, but has no access to the original variable. Changes to the value parameter have no effect on the value of the parameter in the calling routine, once the routine terminates. Because there are different parameter-passing methods, please note the following: 1. Make sure that the called routine and the calling routine use the same method for passing each parameter (argument). In most cases, you will need to check the parameter-passing defaults used by each language, and possibly make adjustments. Each language has keywords or language features that allow you to change the parameter-passing method. 2. You may want to use a particular parameter-passing method rather then using the default for the language. Basic ARGUMENTS =============== The default for Basic is to pass all arguments by near reference. This can be overridden by using the SEG directive or CALLS instead of CALL. Both of these methods cause Basic to pass both the segment and offset. These methods can be used only to call a non-Basic routine because Basic receives all parameters by near reference. Note: Although Basic can pass parameters to other languages by far reference by using the SEG directive or CALLS, Basic routines can be CALLed only from other languages when parameters are passed by near reference. You cannot DECLARE or CALL a Basic routine with parameters that have SEG or BYVAL attributes. SEG and BYVAL are only used for parameters of non- Basic routines. Note: Basic PDS version 7.10 allows a Basic routine to be passed parameters by value. Basic STACK FRAME ================= The following diagram illustrates the Basic stack frame as it appears upon entry to the assembly-language routine: +--------------------+ A | Arg 1 address | <-- BP + 8 |--------------------| B | Arg 2 address | <-- BP + 6 |--------------------| | Return address | BP + 4 | (4 bytes) | BP + 2 |--------------------| | Saved BP | <-- BP +--------------------+ Low Addresses ASSEMBLY-LANGUAGE ARGUMENTS =========================== Once you have established the procedure's framepointer, allocated local data space (if desired), and pushed any registers that need to be preserved, you can write the main body of the procedure. To write instructions that can access parameters, consider the general picture of the stack frame after a procedure call, as illustrated in the following figure: High Addresses +------------------+ | Parameter | |------------------| | Parameter | |------------------| | . | | . | | . | Stack grows |------------------| Parameters above downward with| Parameter | this generated each push or |------------------| automatically by call | Return Address | <-- the compiler. |------------------| | Saved BP | <-- Framepointer (BP) |------------------| points here. | Local Data Space | These parameters |------------------| would be generated | Saved SI | by your assembly- |------------------| language code. | Saved DI | <-- SP points to last +------------------+ item placed on stack. Low Addresses The stack frame for the procedure is established by the following sequence of events: 1. The calling program pushes each of the parameters on the stack, after which SP points to the last parameter pushed. 2. The calling program issues a CALL instruction, which causes the return address (the place in the calling program to which control will ultimately return) to be placed on the stack. This address may be either 2 bytes long (for near calls) or 4 bytes long (for far calls). SP now points to this address. (Note: When dealing with Basic, the return address will always be a far address [4 bytes].) 3. The first instruction of the called procedure saves the old value of BP, with the instruction push bp. SP now points to the saved copy of BP. 4. BP is used to capture the current value of SP, with the instruction MOV BP, SP. Therefore, BP now points to the old value of BP. 5. Whereas BP remains constant throughout the procedure, SP may be decreased to provide room on the stack, for local data or saved registers. In general, the displacement (off of BP) for a parameter X is equal to the following: 2 + size of return address + total size of parameters between X and BP For example, consider a FAR procedure (all Basic procedures are FAR) that has received one parameter, a 2-byte address. The displacement of the parameter would be as follows: Argument's displacement = 2 + size of return address = 2 + 4 = 6 The argument can thus be loaded into BX with the following instruction: mov bx, [bp+6] Once you determine the displacement of each parameter, you may want to use string equates or structures so that the parameters can be referenced with a single identifier name in your assembly-language source code. For example, the parameter above at bp+6 can be conveniently accessed if you put the following statement at the beginning of the assembly-language source file: Arg1 EQU [bp+6] You could then refer to this parameter as Arg1 in any instruction. Use of this feature is optional. PASSING Basic ARGUMENTS BY VALUE ================================ An argument is passed by value when the called routine is first declared with a DECLARE statement, and the BYVAL keyword is applied to the argument. For example: DECLARE SUB AssemProc (BYVAL a AS INTEGER) PASSING Basic ARGUMENTS BY NEAR REFERENCE ========================================= The Basic default is to pass by near reference. Use of SEG, BYVAL, or CALLS changes this default. PASSING Basic ARGUMENTS BY FAR REFERENCE ======================================== Basic passes each argument in a call by far reference when CALLS is used to invoke a routine. Using SEG to modify a parameter in a preceding DECLARE statement also causes a Basic CALL to pass parameters by far reference. Note: CALLS cannot be used to call a routine that is named in a DECLARE statement. For this reason, the use of the SEG directive is the preferred method of passing variables by far reference. DATA TYPES ========== NUMERICAL FORMATS ================= Numerical data formats are the simplest kinds of data to pass between assembly language and Basic. The following chart shows the equivalent data types in each language: Basic Assembly Language ----- ----------------- x%, INTEGER DW ... DB, DF, DT <-- These are not available in Basic. x&, LONG DD x!, SINGLE DD x#, DOUBLE DQ USER-DEFINED TYPES ================== The elements in a user-defined type are stored contiguously in memory, one after the other. When a Basic user-defined type appears in an argument list, Basic passes the address of the beginning element of the user-defined type. The routine that receives the user-defined type must know the format of the type beforehand. The assembly-language routine should then expect to receive a pointer to a structure of this type. Basic STRING FORMATS ==================== Near Variable-Length Strings ---------------------------- Variable-length strings in Basic have 4-byte string descriptors: +-------------------------------------+ | Length | Address (offset) | +-------------------------------------+ (2 bytes) (2 bytes) The first field of the string descriptor contains a 2-byte integer indicating the length of the actual string text. The second field contains the address of the text. This address is an offset into the default data area (DGROUP) and is assigned by Basic's string-space management routines. These management routines need to be available to reassign this address whenever the length of the string changes, yet the routines are available only to Basic. Therefore, an assembly- language routine should not alter the length or address of a Basic variable-length string. Note: Fixed-length strings do not have a string descriptor. Passing Variable-Length Strings from Basic ------------------------------------------ When a Basic variable-length string (such as A$) appears in an argument list, Basic passes a string descriptor rather than the string data itself. Warning: When you pass a string from Basic to assembly language, the called routine should under no circumstances alter the length or address of the string. The routine that receives the string must be aware that if any Basic routine is called, Basic's string-space management routines may change the location of the string data without warning. In this case, the calling routine must note that the values in the string descriptor may change. The Basic functions SADD and LEN extract parts of the string descriptor. SADD extracts the address of the actual string data, and LEN extracts the length. The results of these functions can then be passed to an assembly-language routine. Basic should pass the result of the SADD function by value. Bear in mind that the string's address, not the string itself, will be passed by value. This amounts to passing the string itself by reference. The Basic module passes the string address, and the other module receives the string address. The address returned by SADD is declared as type INTEGER, but is actually equivalent to a near pointer. There are two methods for passing a variable-length string from Basic to assembly language. The first method is to pass the string address and string length as separate arguments, using the SADD and LEN functions. The second method is to pass the string descriptor itself, with a call statement such as the following: CALL CRoutine(A$) The assembly-language routine should then expect to receive a pointer to a string descriptor of this type. Passing Near String Descriptors from Assembly Language ------------------------------------------------------ To pass an assembly-language string to Basic, first allocate a string in assembly language. Then create a structure identical to a Basic string descriptor. Pass this structure by near reference. Make sure that the string originates in assembly language, not in Basic. Otherwise, Basic may attempt to move the string around in memory. Warning: Microsoft does not recommend creating your own string descriptors in assembler functions because it is very easy to inadvertently destroy portions of the data segment. The Basic routine should not reassign the value or length of a string passed from assembly language. The preferred method is to create the strings in Basic and then modify their contents in the assembler function without altering their string descriptors. Far Variable-Length Strings --------------------------- Microsoft Basic Professional Development System (PDS) versions 7.00 and 7.10 allow for the use of far strings. Information on using far strings with other languages is covered in the "Microsoft Basic 7.0: Programmer's Guide," in Chapter 13, "Mixed-Language Programming with Far-Strings." Fixed-Length Strings -------------------- Fixed-length strings in Basic are stored simply as contiguous bytes of characters, with no terminating character. There is no string descriptor for a fixed-length string. To pass a fixed-length string to a routine, the string must be put into a user-defined type. For example: TYPE FixType A AS STRING * 10 END TYPE The string is then passed like any other user-defined type. ARRAYS ====== There are several special problems that you need to be aware of when passing arrays between Basic and assembly language: 1. Arrays are implemented differently in Basic than in other languages, so you must take special precautions when passing an array from Basic to assembly language. 2. Arrays are declared differently in assembly language and Basic. 3. Because Basic uses an array descriptor, passed arrays must be created in Basic. Passing Arrays from Basic ------------------------- To pass an array to an assembly-language routine, pass only the base element, and the other elements will be contiguous from there. Passed Arrays Must Be Created in Basic -------------------------------------- Basic keeps track of all arrays in a special structure called an array descriptor. The array descriptor is unique to Basic and is not available in any other language. Because of this, to pass an array from assembly language to Basic, the array must first be created in Basic, then passed to the assembly-language routine. The assembly- language routine may then alter the values in the array, but it cannot change the length of the array. The array descriptor is similar in some respects to a string descriptor. The array descriptor is necessary because Basic may shift the location of array data in memory. Therefore, you can safely pass arrays from Basic only if you follow three rules: 1. Pass the array's address by applying the VARPTR function to the first element of the array and passing the result by value. To pass the far address of the array, apply both the VARPTR and VARSEG functions and pass each result by value. The assembler gets the address of the first element and considers it the address of the entire array. 2. The routine that receives the array must not, under any circumstances, make a call back to Basic. If it does, then the location of the array may change, and the address that was passed to the routine will become meaningless. 3. Basic can pass any member of an array by value. With this method, the above precautions do not apply. Array Ordering -------------- There are two types of ordering: row-major and column-major. Basic uses column-major ordering, in which the leftmost dimension changes fastest. When you use Basic with the BC command line, you can select the /R compile option, which specifies that row-major order is to be used, rather than column-major order. COMMON BLOCKS ============= You can pass individual members of a Basic COMMON block in an argument list, just as you can any data. However, you can also give an assembly-language routine access to the entire COMMON block at once. Assembly language can reference the items of a COMMON block by first declaring a structure with fields that correspond to the COMMON block variables. Having defined a structure with the appropriate fields, the assembly-language routine must then get the address of the COMMON block. To pass the address of the COMMON block, pass the address of the first variable in the block. The assembly-language routine should expect to receive a structure by reference. For named COMMON blocks, there is an alternative method. In the assembly-language program, a segment is set up with the same name as the COMMON block and then grouped with DGROUP, as follows: BNAME SEGMENT COMMON 'BC_VARS' x dw 1 dup (?) y dw 1 dup (?) z dw 1 dup (?) BNAME ENDS DGROUP GROUP BNAME The above assembler code matches with the following Basic code using a named COMMON block: DEFINT A-Z COMMON /BNAME/ x,y,z Passing arrays through the COMMON block is done in a similar fashion. However, only static arrays can be passed to assembler through COMMON. Note: Microsoft does not support passing dynamic arrays through COMMON to assembler (since this depends upon a Microsoft proprietary dynamic array descriptor format that changes from version to version). Dynamic arrays can be passed to assembler only as parameters in a CALL statement. When static arrays are used, the entire array is stored in the COMMON block. Note that variables in COMMON following STRING*n variables, where n is odd, are aligned on the next even word boundary. Thus, you must define an extra dummy byte using db 1 in the assembler code following STRING*n variables (where n is odd). A dummy byte is not necessary after STRING*n variables when n is even. HOW TO RETURN VALUES FROM ASSEMBLY-LANGUAGE FUNCTIONS ===================================================== Assembler "functions" are not called with the CALL statement; they are invoked on the right-hand side of an equal sign (=) in compiled Basic. When calling an assembly-language function from Basic, either the passed variable or a pointer to the passed variable is returned in the AX register, as shown in the following chart: Data Type How Value Is Returned --------- --------------------- INTEGER The value is placed in AX. LONG The high-order portion is placed in DX. The low-order portion is placed in AX. SINGLE The value is placed in the location provided by Basic. The segment is DS. Basic will push an extra parameter on the stack, after all the other parameters, that contains the offset of the memory location to share the return value. The offset located in BP+6 should be placed in AX before the function exits. DOUBLE The value is placed in the location provided by Basic. The segment is DS. Basic will push an extra parameter on the stack, after all the other parameters, that contains the offset of the memory location to share the return value. The offset should be placed in AX before the function exits. VARIABLE- LENGTH STRING Pointer to a descriptor (offset in AX). Note: Basic does not allow functions with a fixed-length-string type or a user-defined type. DEBUGGING MIXED-LANGUAGE PROGRAMS ================================= Microsoft CodeView is very useful when trying to debug mixed-language programs. With CodeView you can trace through the source code of both assembly language and Basic and watch variables in both languages. To compile programs for use with CodeView, use the /Zi switch on the compile line for both the assembler and the Basic compiler. Then when linking, use the /CO switch. CodeView is a multilanguage source code debugger supplied with Microsoft Basic Compiler versions 6.00 and 6.00b; Microsoft Basic Professional Development System (PDS) versions 7.00 and 7.10; Microsoft C Optimizing Compiler versions 5.00 and 5.10; Microsoft Macro Assembler versions 5.00 and 5.10; and Microsoft FORTRAN Compiler versions 4.00 and 5.00. COMPILING AND LINKING THE SAMPLE PROGRAMS ========================================= The following is a series of examples, demonstrating the interlanguage calling capabilities between Basic and assembler. When compiling the sample Basic programs, use the following compile line: BC /O Basicprogramname; When compiling the sample MASM programs, use the following compile line for MASM 5.00 or 5.10: MASM Assemprogramname; Or, use the following compile line for QuickAssembler 2.01: QCL Assemprogramname; To link the programs together, use the following LINK line: LINK Basicprogramname Assemprogramname; Note: All the examples using variable-length strings assume the use of near variable-length strings. These examples will not work in the QuickBasic Extended (QBX.EXE) environment, or when compiling with the BC/FS directive, in Microsoft Basic Professional Development System (PDS) versions 7.00 and 7.10. APPENDIX A: MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS ================================ Basic SUPPORTS MASM 5.10 UPDATE .MODEL AND PROC EXTENSIONS ========================================================== Microsoft Macro Assembler (MASM) version 5.10 includes several new features (not found in MASM version 5.00 or earlier) that simplify assembly-language routines linked with high-level-language programs. Two of these features are as follows: 1. An extension to the .MODEL directive that automatically sets up naming, calling, and return conventions for a given high-level language. For example: .MODEL MEDIUM,Basic 2. A modification of the PROC directive that handles most of the procedure entry automatically. The PROC directive saves specified registers, defines text macros for passed arguments, and generates stack setup code on entry and stack tear-down code on exit. Section 5 of the "Microsoft Macro Assembler Version 5.1 Update" manual discusses the new features. PROBLEM CALLING ASSEMBLER ROUTINE WITH LABEL ON END DIRECTIVE ============================================================= A QuickBasic .EXE program will hang at run time if it is LINKed to an assembly-language routine that uses a label on the END directive. The same programs execute successfully when run inside the QB.EXE editor with the assembly-language routine in a Quick library. Although versions of QuickBasic prior to version 4.00 allow a label on the END directive in a LINKed assembly-language program, programs for versions 4.00 and 4.00b require you to have no label on the assembly- language END directive. When the linker creates an executable program, it successively examines each .OBJ file and determines whether that file has a specified entry point. The first .OBJ file that specifies an entry point is assumed by the linker to be the main program, and program execution begins there. In the assembly-language routines, the purpose of a label with an END directive is to indicate to the linker the program's starting address or entry point (where program execution is to start). Therefore, if no entry point is found in the QuickBasic routine, program execution will begin in the assembly-language routines (in effect, the Basic code is totally bypassed). In previous versions of the QuickBasic compiler, the QuickBasic object code contains an entry-point specifier. Therefore, by simply listing QuickBasic object files before the assembly-language object files on the LINK command line, the linker recognizes that the QuickBasic program is the main program. However, in QuickBasic version 4.00, the entry-point information is no longer in the object file; instead, it resides in the run-time module (for example, BCOM40.LIB or BRUN40.LIB). Because these files are LINKed after the Basic and assembly-language .OBJ files, if the assembly-language routine specifies an entry point, the linker will incorrectly assume that program execution is to begin in the assembly- language routine. Results of testing with previous versions of QuickBasic indicate that the programs run successfully both inside the editor and as .EXE files when compiled with versions 2.00, 2.01, and 3.00 of the QuickBasic compiler. There are two workarounds to correct this problem in version 4.00: 1. Remove the label on the END directive (that is, remove the entry- point specification in your assembly-language routine) and reassemble. 2. The assembler .OBJ module can be used successfully without removing the label from the END directive. If the assembly-language routine cannot be changed, place the assembly-language routine into a .LIB file. ASSEMBLER ROUTINES MUST NOT ASSUME ES EQUALS DS =============================================== If CALLed assembler routines do string manipulation and use the ES register, then the results inside the QB.EXE editor may differ from the executable .EXE program if the assembler routines assume the ES and DS registers are equal. The ES and DS registers should not be assumed to be equal in QuickBasic versions 4.00 and later. Generally, the ES and DS registers are equal for the executable program; however, this is not always a valid assumption. The assembler routines must explicitly set ES equal to DS, as shown in the code example below. The following assembler code sets ES equal to DS: push bp mov bp, sp push es ;These three push ds ;lines set the pop es ;es register equal to ds . . ;body of program . pop es ;at end of program need to pop bp ;restore saved registers ret QUICK LIBRARY WITH 0 (ZERO) BYTES IN FIRST CODE SEGMENT ======================================================= A Quick library containing leading zeros in the first CODE segment is invalid, causing the message "Error in loading file <name> - Invalid format" when you try to load it in QuickBasic. For example, this error can occur if an assembly-language routine puts data that is initialized to 0 (zero) in the first CODE segment, and it is subsequently listed first on the LINK command line when you make a Quick library. If you have this problem, do either of the following: 1. Link with a Basic module first on the LINK command line. -or- 2. In whatever module comes first on the LINK command line, make sure that the first code segment starts with a nonzero byte.
ARTICLE-ID: Q71275 TITLE : "How to Pass Parameters Between Basic and Assembly" (Part 2/2)
Article ID: 51501 - Last Review: January 11, 2015 - Revision: 2.1