The "Go" tools
The GoAsm manual
"When I click on the GoAsm or GoLink or GoRC icon something
flashes on the screen but nothing else happens"
Jeremy Gordon -
This file is intended for those interested in 32 bit assembler
programming, in particular for Windows.
In common with many developer's tools, GoAsm (the assembler), GoLink
(the linker) and GoRC (the resource compiler) are Windows console
programs. This means that they do not have a GUI (Graphics User Interface).
In other words they do not permit any input from the user once they have
Because of this, if you just click on the tool's icon, the program will start
in a console window. When the program ends, the console window
will disappear, because the program has ended.
Development tools tends to work in this way because they have a specific
job to do, and after they have done it, the programmer most likely needs
to do something else, such as run another tool or view the result of
compilation. These actions are often automated in the build process and
having a GUI simply gets in the way of this.
This does mean, though, that a way has to be found to tell the tool
what to do.
"So how can I tell
the tool what I want it to do?
This is done by providing information to the tool in its command
line. The command line is the instruction to the operating system
(Windows) to start the program itself. You can see a command line if you
right click on a shortcut on your desktop and then click on "properties".
The "target" shows the command line used to start the program concerned.
Any characters after the name of the program concerned are the parameters.
These are used to provide the program with information when it starts. What
is actually happening here is that when the program runs, it reads the
command line (it actually uses the Window function GetCommandLine), and then
In Windows, true MS-DOS programs have PIF files, which also control
how they run (this does not apply to the "Go" tools).
When using console programs in the build process, you will need to change
the command line parameters from time to time and therefore changing
the shortcut target is usually not a convenient
way to proceed. The other problem is (as we have seen) that the console
window closes when the program finishes, making it different to see reports
from the tool (although these could be diverted to a file).
programs in the build process
There are two main ways to do this conveniently.
Either you can use a IDE (Integrated Development Environment) or you
can use a console window, also known as MS-DOS window or "command prompt".
An IDE is a GUI program which appears on the screen with windows and
a menu as you would expect with any Windows program. In such programs
you normally start a "project" which will be the final product you wish
to make (your program). The IDE lets you create your own command line
for starting the tools you wish to use and for sending the appropriate
parameters. Some IDE's, however, are tied to certain tools which you
cannot vary. If you want to use an IDE you
need to follow the instructions of the IDE, as appropriate.
Personally, I prefer to use a console window since I don't really
believe in using tools unless they are really necessary. This is of course
a matter of choice. When starting out you will probably find it quicker
to get going if you use an console window.
"How do I get a console
window (also known as MS-DOS window or command prompt) on my computer?
All Windows computers permit you do do this, but it is slightly different
depending on which operating system you are using. Start the computer
in the usual way in Windows, and then:-
for Windows 95 and 98 you need START, PROGRAMS, MS-DOS Prompt
for Windows ME you need START, PROGRAMS, ACCESSORIES, MS_DOS Prompt
for Windows NT you need START, PROGRAMS, ACCESSORIES, MS_DOS Prompt
for Windows XP you need START, ALL PROGRAMS, ACCESSORIES, COMMAND PROMPT
If in doubt, consult your Windows help file or instruction manual
When it first appears the console window looks something like this:
Note how, at first, the command line shows
The characters here are called the "command prompt". The command
prompt tells you which disk drive and which folder on that disk drive will
be used for all file actions using the console window. In this example,
the console window will perform all file actions using drive "C" (the main hard
drive), and the folder "\Windows". The "\" means the root folder
(also known as the root directory) in the drive concerned (ie. the very
first folder in drive "C").
Now you need to change the folder that the console window will be using
for file actions, to the folder that contains your project and your tools.
You can do this using the MS-DOS command "cd" (literally change directory).
For example if you type in "cd c:\prog\myproject" and press the enter key,
you will be changing the folder that the console window will use to the
prog\myproject folder in the c drive. Then the command prompt will look
Now, assuming that your tools are in
this folder, you are ready to run them. Test this by typing in, for example,
GoAsm and then pressing enter. If GoAsm.exe is in the c:\prog\myproject
folder then it will respond to you. The console window will remain open
for the next command.
Now you need to return to the Quick Start and HelloWorld examples to see
exactly what parameters to pass to the tools on the command line. Before
doing so you may be interested in a few additional MS-DOS commands which
you may find useful to use (remember "directory" means "folder" in Windows
md make directory, eg. "md hello" makes the directory hello
cd change directory (see above)
rd remove directory
cd .. change to directory above this one
cd \ change to the root directory
a: use drive a:
c: use drive c:
d: use drive d:
dir show list of files in this directory
dir /p show list of files in this directory but pause after a screenful
dir /w show list of files in this directory (wide format)
cls clear the screen
copy copy one file to another
del xxxx delete the file (careful! no recycle bin)
time set the time
date set the date
type look at file in the console
type >prn send file to printer
type >xxxx send file to a file
ver get Windows version
myprog run myprog.exe (or myprog.bat if myprog.exe is not found)
myprog >xxxx run myprog.exe (or .bat) sending its output to a file
Copyright © Jeremy Gordon 2003
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