Free Pascal is an advanced and reliable Pascal compiler that targets various process architectures, including Intel x86, SPARC, AMD64/x86-64, PowerPC and PowerPC64. Free Pascal is known to be compatible, to some extent, with the dialects of Turbo Pascal and Delphi.
Free Pascal’s compiler engine contributed to some well-know and widely popular applications on the market. A few examples are Lazarus (an affiliated package of Free Pascal for developing graphical applications), PeaZip, Double Commander, WinFF, Virtual Magnifying Glass, not to mention a wide array of popular games. Moreover, Free Pascal itself was compiled by its own engine.
Simplicity is what defines Free Pascal. The user interface is console-based, a common feature of most old-aged compilers. It’s not necessarily a downside, especially for advanced programmers, but it may pose some visual discomfort for beginners.
One of the most cherished features of Free Pascal is its compiling speed (correlated to similar compilers), although not comparable to Delphi’s, for instance. Due to its code optimization capabilities, that include a sophisticated registry allocator, stack frame eliminations and a dataflow analyzer, it behaves and acts faster than other IDEs.
Language features consist of procedure and operator overloading, inlining and support for dynamic array, ANSI / wide strings, RTTI (Run-Time Type Information) and COM / CORBA / RAW interfaces.
Although oriented to Pascal code, C developers can benefit from it too. It’s true that it cannot compile C code, but you can still call it from Free Pascal. The h2pas utility makes it even easier, as it allows for the conversion oh .h files to Pascal units.
In conclusion, Free Pascal is a great way to build applications. It’s a strong and feature-rich IDE addressed mainly to advanced programmers, but the high quality documentation builds an easy road for beginners, too.
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