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Need to write scripts in a hurry? You could use VBScript or Visual Basic, but these are proprietary and run only on Windows. Perl is a powerful alternative, but it has complex syntax. You can't script Perl without reference materials unless you do it every day. And maintaining someone else's script can be tough.
I like Rexx. It's free, standardized and cross-platform. It's powerful, but has almost no syntax. You can script it from memory. And it's as easy as Basic or PHP, but is powerful enough to have dominated mainframe scripting for years.
You have a choice of several free Rexx interpreters for Windows. Regina is the interpreter you may be familiar with from the Windows Resource Kits. It's the most widely-used open source Rexx and has a ton of tools and interfaces. r4 and Reginald are both Windows-only products. They include the hooks for DLLs, Registry access and add-on tools many Windows developers like. BRexx is yet another option. It's the fastest of the breed and requires very little disk space. BRexx has extensions for native Windows CE programming. So you can program your handheld with Rexx just the same as Windows servers and clients.
Open Object Rexx and roo! are free object-oriented Rexx interpreters. They run standard, procedural Rexx scripts, but then add all the features required for OOP – classes, methods, messaging, inheritance, polymorphism, etc. Both have large Windows class libraries.
For more information on Rexx, visit the Rexx Language Association Web site. Pick up the comprehensive book Rexx Programmer's Reference. Or check out the Rexx forum or the one specifically for Windows users.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard Fosdick is an independent consultant who has worked with most major scripting languages and wrote the Rexx Programmer's Reference.
This was first published in February 2005