xHarbour is a free (GPL + exception supporting commercial applications) multi-platform (DOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux (32,64), Unix (32,64), Mac OS X, OS/2, eComStation) extended Clipper compiler, offering multiple GT (Graphic Terminals), including console drivers, GUIs (free such as HWGui, MiniGUI, [http://www.oohg.org ooHG] and commercial, such as Visual xHarbour, FiveWin, Xailer ), and Hybrid Console/GUIs, such as GTWvt, and GTWvw. xHarbour is 100% Clipper backward compatible and supports many language syntax extensions, greatly extended run-time libraries such as OLE, ODBC, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Firebird, TIpt, TXml, RegEx, HbZip, xbScript and extensive third party support.

Like most dynamic languages, xHarbour is also available as a scripting language (standalone application, linkable library, MS ActiveScript engine [Windows Script Host, HTML, ASP] ) utilizing an interpreter written in the xHarbour language.

Built-in data types

xHarbour has 6 scalar types : Nil, String, Date, Logical, Number, Pointer, and 4 complex types: Array, Object, CodeBlock, and Hash. A scalar holds a single value, such as a string, number, or reference to any other type. Arrays are ordered lists of scalars or complex types, indexed by number, starting at 1. Hashes, or associative arrays, are unordered collections of any type values indexed by their associated key, which may be of any scalar or complex type.

Literal (static) representation of scalar types:
* Nil: "NIL"
* String: "hello", 'hello', [hello] , or E"hello "
* Date: "ctod("2005-03-17" )"
* Logical: ".T., .F."
* Number: "1, 1.1, -1, 0xFF"

Complex Types may also be represent as literal values:
* Array: "{ "String"", 1, { "Nested Array" }, .T., FunctionCall(), @FunctionPointer() }"
* CodeBlock: { |Arg1, ArgN| Arg1 := ArgN + OuterVar + FunctionCall() }
* Hash: "{ "Name" => "John", 1 => "Numeric key", { "Nested" => "Hash" } }"

Hashes may use "any" type including other Hashes as the "Key" for any element. Hashes and Arrays may contain "any" type as the "Value" of any member, including nesting arrays, and Hashes.

Codeblocks may have references to Variables of the Procedure/Function>method in which it was defined. Such Codeblocks may be returned as a value, or by means of an argument passed BY REFERENCE, in such case the Codeblock will "outlive" the routine in which it was defined, and any variables it references, will be a "DETACHED" variable.

Detached variables will maintain their value for as long as a Codeblock referencing them still exists. Such values will be shared with any other Codeblock which may have access to those same variables. If the Codeblock did not outlive its containing routine, and will be evaluated within the life time of the routine in which it is defined, changes to its "Detached Variables"(s) by means of its evaluation, will be reflected back at its parent routine.

Codeblocks can be evaluated any number of times, by means of the Eval( "BlockExp" ) function.


All types can be assigned to named variables. Named variable identifiers are 1 to 63 characters long, start with [A-Z|_] and further consist of the characters [A-Z|0-9|_] up to a maximum of 63 characters. Named variables are not case sensitive.

Variables have one of the following scopes:

* "LOCAL": Visible only within the routine which declared it. Value is lost upon exit of the routine.

* "STATIC": Visible only within the routine which declared it. Value is preserved for subsequent invocations of the routine. If a STATIC variable is declared before any Procedure/Function/Method is defined, it has a MODULE scope, and is visible within any routine defined within that same source file, it will maintain its life for the duration of the application life time.

* "GLOBAL" Visible within any routine defined in the same source module where the GLOBAL variable is declared, as well as any routine of any other source module, which explicitly declares it, by means of the "GLOBAL EXTERNAL" declaration. Both GLOBAL and GLOBAL EXTERNAL declarations must be declared before any Procedure/Function/Method is defined.

* "PRIVATE": Visible within the routine which declared it, and all routines "called" by that routine.

* "PUBLIC": Visible by "all" routines in the same application.

"LOCAL", "STATIC", and "GLOBAL" are resolved at compile time, and thus are much faster than "PRIVATE" and "PUBLIC" variables which are dynamic entities accessed by means of a runtime Symbol table. For this same reason, "LOCAL", "STATIC" and "GLOBAL" variables are "not" exposed to the Macro compiler, and any macro code which attempts to reference them will generate a runtime error. Due to the dynamic nature of "PRIVATE" and "PUBLIC" variables, they can be created and destroyed at runtime, can be accessed and modified by means of runtime macros, and can be accessed and modified by Codeblocks created on the fly.

Control structures

The basic control structures include all of the standard dBase, and Clipper control structures as well as additional ones inspired by the C or Java programming languages:


[DO] WHILE "ConditionExp" "..." [LOOP] [EXIT] END [DO]

FOR "Var" := "InitExp" TO "EndExp" [STEP "StepExp"] "..." [LOOP] [EXIT] NEXT

FOR EACH "Var" IN "CollectionExp" "..." [HB_EnumIndex()] [LOOP] [EXIT] NEXT

* The "..." is a sequence of one of more xHarbour statements, and square bracketes [] denote optional syntax.
* The "HB_EnumIndex()" may be optionally used to retrieve the current iteration index (1 based).
* The "LOOP" statement restarts the current iteration of the enclosing loop structure, and if the enclosing loop is a "FOR" or "FOR EACH" loop, it increases the iterator, moving to the next iteration of the loop.
* The "EXIT" statement immediately terminates execution of the enclosing loop structure.
* The "NEXT" statement closes the control structure and moves to the next iteration of loop structure.

In the "FOR" statement, the "assignment" expression is evaluated prior to the first loop iteration. The "TO" expression is evaluated and compared against the value of the control variable, prior to each iteration, and the loop is terminated if it evaluates to a numeric value greater than the numeric value of the control variable. The optional "STEP" expression is evaluated after each iteration, prior to deciding whether to perform the next iteration.

In "FOR EACH", the "Var" variable will have the value (scalar, or complex) of the respective element in the collection value. The collection expression, may be an Array (of any type or combinations of types), an Hash Table, or an Object type.

IF statements

IF "CondExp" "..." [ELSEIF] "CondExp" "..." [ELSE] "..." END [IF] "..." represents 0 or more "statement(s)".

The condition expression(s) has to evaluate to a "LOGICAL" value.

DO CASE statements

DO CASE CASE "CondExp" "..." [CASE "CondExp"] "..." [OTHERWISE] "..." END [CASE ]

Above construct is logically equivalent to:

IF "CondExp" "..." ELSEIF "CondExp" "..." [ELSEIF "CondExp"] "..." [ELSE] "..." END [IF]

WITCH statements

xHarbour supports a SWITCH construct inspired by the C implementation of switch().

SWITCH "SwitchExp" CASE "LiteralExp" "..." [EXIT]

[CASE "LiteralExp"] "..." [EXIT] [DEFAULT] "..." END

* The "LiteralExp" must be a compiled time resolvable numeric expression, and may involve operators, as long as such operators involve compile time static value.
* The "EXIT" optional statement is the equivalent of the C statement "break", and if present, execution of the SWITCH structure will end when the EXIT statement is reached, otherwise it will continue with the first statement below the next CASE statement (fall through).


BEGIN SEQUENCE "..." [BREAK] [Break( ["Exp"] )] RECOVER [USING "Var"] "..." END [SEQUENCE]


The BEGIN SEQUENCE structure allows for a well behaved abortion of any sequence, even when crossing nested procedures/functions. This means that a called procedure/function, may issues a BREAK statement, or a Break() expression, to force unfolding of any nested procedure/functions, all the way back to the first outer BEGIN SEQUENCE structure, either after its respective END statement, or a RECOVER clause if present. The Break statement may optionally pass any type of expression, which may be accepted by the RECOVER statement to allow further recovery handing.

Additionally the xHarbour Error Object supports canDefault, canRetry and canSubstitute properties, which allows error handlers to perform some preparations, and then request a Retry Operation, a Resume, or return a Value to replace the expression triggering the error condition.

TRY [CATCH] [FINALLY] statements

TRY "..." [BREAK] [Break( ["Exp"] )] [Throw( ["Exp"] )] CATCH ["Var"] "..." END

TRY "..." [BREAK] [Break( ["Exp"] )] [Throw( ["Exp"] )] CATCH ["Var"] "..." FINALLY "..." END


TRY "..." [BREAK] [Break( ["Exp"] )] [Throw( ["Exp"] )] FINALLY "..." END

The TRY construct is very similar to the BEGIN SEQUENCE construct, except it automatically integrates error handling, so that any error will be intercepted, and recovered by means of the CATCH statement or forwarded to an outer CATCH handler otherwise. The FINALLY section is guaranteed to be executed before the TRY or CATCH sections are forwarding flow control by means of RETURN, BREAK, or THROW.


[STATIC] PROCEDURE "SomeProcedureName" [STATIC] PROCEDURE "SomeProcedureName"() [STATIC] PROCEDURE "SomeProcedureName"( "Param1' [, "ParamsN"] )

INIT PROCEDURE "SomeProcedureName" EXIT PROCEDURE "SomeProcedureName"

[STATIC] FUNCTION "SomeProcedureName" [STATIC] FUNCTION "SomeProcedureName"() [STATIC] FUNCTION "SomeProcedureName"( "Param1' [, "ParamsN"] )

Procedures/Functions in xHarbour can be specified with the keywords PROCEDURE, or FUNCTION. Naming rules are same as those for "Variables" (up to 63 characters non case sensitive). Both Procedures and Functions may be qualified by the scope qualifier "STATIC" to restrict their usage to the scope of the module where defined.

The "INIT" or "EXIT" optional qualifiers, will flag the procedure to be automatically invoked just before calling the application startup procedure, or just after quitting the application, respectively.Parameters passed to a procedure/function appear in the subroutine as local variables, and may accept any type, including references.

Changes to argument variables are not reflected in respective variables passed by the calling procedure/function/method unless explicitly passed BY REFERENCE using the "@" prefix.

PROCEDURE have no return value, and if used in an Expression context will produce a "NIL" value.

FUNCTION may return any type by means of the RETURN statement, anywhere in the body of its definition.

An example procedure definition and a function call follows:

x := Cube( 2 )

FUNCTION Cube( n ) RETURN n ** 3

Database support

xHarbour extends the Clipper Replaceable Database Drivers (RDD) approach. It offers multiple RDDs such as DBF, DBFNTX, DBFCDX, DBFDBT, and DBFFPT. In xHarbour multiple RDDs can be used in a single application, and new logical RDDs can be defined from combination of other RDD. The RDD architecture allows for inheritance, so that a given RDD may extend the functionality of other existing RDD(s). 3rd party RDDs, like RDDSQL, RDDSIX, RMDBFCDX, "Advantage Database Server", and "Mediator" exemplify some of the RDD architecture features.

xHarbour also offers ODBC support by means of an OOP syntax, and ADO support by means of OLE.

Macro Operator (runtime compiler)

One of the most powerful features of the xBase languages is the MACRO Operator '&'. xHarbour’s implementation of the Macro Operator allows for runtime compilation of any valid xHarbour expression. Such compiled expression may be used as a VALUE, i.e. the right side of an Assignment, but more interestingly, such compiled expression may be used to resolve the LEFT side of an assignment, i.e. PRIVATE, or PUBLIC variables, or Database FIELD.

Additionally the Macro Operator may compile and execute function calls, complete assignments, or even list of arguments, and the result of the macro may be used to resolve any of the above contexts in the compiled application. IOW, any xHarbour application may be extended, and/or modified in runtime, to compile and execute additional code on demand.

The xHarbour implementation of this feature is so complete that the xHarbour interpreter, xbScript, uses it heavily, to compile xHarbour scripts.


&( ... )

The text value of the expression '...' will be compiled, and the value resulting from the execution of the compiled code is the result.


is the short form for &( SomeId ).


is the short form of &( SomeId + "postfix" ).

xHarbour code samples

The typical "hello world" program would be: ? "Hello, world!"


QOut( "Hello, world!" )


Alert( "Hello, world!" )

Or, enclosed in an explicit procedure:

PROCEDURE Main() ? "Hello, world!"


OOP samples

#include "hbclass.ch"


LOCAl oPerson := Person( "Dave" )

oPerson:Eyes := "Invalid"

oPerson:Eyes := "Blue"

Alert( oPerson:Describe() ) RETURN

CLASS Person DATA Name INIT ""


ACCESS Eyes INLINE ::pvtEyes ASSIGN Eyes( x ) INLINE IIF( ValType( x ) = 'C' .AND. x IN "Blue,Brown,Green", ::pvtEyes := x, Alert( "Invalid value" ) )

// Sample of IN-LINE Method definition INLINE METHOD Describe() LOCAL cDescription

IF Empty( ::Name ) cDescription := "I have no name yet." ELSE cDescription := "My name is: " + ::Name + ";" ENDIF

IF ! Empty( ::Eyes ) cDescription += "my eyes' color is: " + ::Eyes ENDIF ENDMETHOD


// Sample of normal Method definition. METHOD New( cName ) CLASS Person

::Name := cName



xHarbour is also available as an interpreted language in few flavors of scripting engines.

* "Stand alone Interpreter": Portable, self contained, interpreter xBaseScript.

* "ActiveScript": Microsoft ActiveScript compliant OLE DLL, which supports xHarbour scripting in:
** Windows Script Host (WSH).
** Internet Explorer, HTML client side scripting.
** IIS, and any other ASP compliant server.

External links

* [http://www.xHarbour.org Official site]
* [http://www.oohg.org Object Oriented Harbour GUI (ooHG)]
* [http://www.FiveTechSoft.com FiveWin]
* [http://www.viaopen.com ViaOpen ]
* [http://www.xailer.com Xailer]
* [http://harbour.fm.interia.pl/ HbWxW (wxWidgets Bindings)]

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