Open Programming Language

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Open Programming Language (OPL)
Paradigmimperative, structured, embedded
Designed byPsion Ltd
Developeropl-dev project
First appeared1984
Stable release
1.56 / June 17, 2006 (2006-06-17) / June 17, 2006 (2006-06-17)
OSSymbian OS, Psion Organiser
LicenseGNU Lesser Public License[1]

Open Programming Language (OPL) is an embedded programming language for portable devices that run the Symbian Operating System.


It can be found on the Nokia 9200, 9300 and 9500 Communicator series mobile telephone/personal digital assistant (PDA) and the Sony Ericsson P800, P900, P910 series. On classic Psion PDAs such as the Series 3, 5/5mx, Series 7, and netBook/netPad, as well as the MC218, OPL is part of the standard application suite. OPL is also included in Psion Teklogix industrial handhelds such as the Workabout mx. OPL is an interpreted language similar to BASIC. A fully Visual Basic-compatible language OVAL has been also developed.


The language was originally called Organiser Programming Language, developed by Psion Ltd for the Psion Organiser. Designed by Colly Myers with the first iteration implemented by Richard Harrison and Martin Stamp. The first implementation (without graphics) was for the original Psion Organiser (now referred to as the Psion Organiser I, 1984), and it came bundled with the Science, Finance and Math data packs. It became truly accessible as built-in software in the Psion Organiser II (1986), and the language went on to be used in the Psion Series 3 and later. After Psion retired from the portable digital assistant market, the project was delayed until 2003, when the fledgling Symbian Developer Program released it as open source. The language is now developed on SourceForge in the opl-dev project.[clarification needed]

The language is not available from Symbian OS v8 and later, mainly due to lack of interest and support from major Symbian licencees Nokia and Sony Ericsson.[citation needed] Hence, OPL will most likely never be made available for the newer generation of Symbian OS phones such as Sony Ericsson P990, M600,[citation needed]W950, P1i and Nokia E61i and E90. As of 2010, Nokia device developers are encouraged to use Python for S60 instead (See Python for S60).[citation needed]


Here is the console version of a Hello world program:

PROC main:
  PRINT "Hello World!"
  PAUSE 40

(Source code taken from the PCDevPrimer in the OPL Wiki.)

And here is a GUI version for Nokia's Series 80 user interface:

CONST KKeyEnter%=13

PROC hello:
  dINIT "Hello"
  dTEXT "","Hello World!"
  dBUTTONS "OK",KKeyEnter%

OPL is a structured programming language. OPL programs contain PROCedures, which are much like functions in other programming languages.

  • The dINIT keyword in this example initializes a dialog box (intuitively enough, all dialog-box related functions begin with a letter 'd'; for clarity, this letter is in lower case, but the language is case independent). The first argument of the dialog is an optional string, which is used for the title of the dialog, displayed in the title bar.
  • The dTEXT function displays text, with two compulsory arguments: a left-aligned 'prompt' string, and a main string.
  • The dBUTTONS keyword allows you to put buttons on the dialog box - here there is a button with the text "OK". The second argument to each button is both the special notation of the shortcut key for that button and the dialog's return code, in this case the "Enter" key.
  • Finally, the DIALOG keyword is required for the previously initialized dialog box to be shown on the screen.

Testing dialog responses

An example:

 PROC test:
   dINIT "Your Challenge"
   dTEXT "","Will your answer to this question be no?"
   dBUTTONS "Yes",%y,"No",%n
      PRINT "No it wasn't!"
      PRINT "Yes it was!"

In this cruel interrogative program, the Yes button is assigned the shortcut of Ctrl+y, while No has Ctrl+n, represented by %y and %n respectively. The user's input from the DIALOG is tested in the IF statement, PRINTing appropriate responses to the screen. Note that the 'GET' keyword, which gets user input without using a dialog box, is here used simply to wait for a keypress before terminating the program (otherwise it would end immediately without giving time for the user to read the text). The output from DIALOG can also be stored in a variable.

Variables specific to a procedure must be declared with the LOCAL keyword; global variables are defined with the GLOBAL keyword.

Variable types

The table below uses an example variable called 'var'.

Data Type Syntax
Floating Point var
Integer var%
Long Integer var&
String var$(length)


OPL interfaced with advanced Psion Series 3 features by means of operating system CALLs, but in the later Psion Series 5mx this was changed to a so-called 'OPX' library, stored in the system ROM (the Z drive). 'OPX' libraries were also made available for the Nokia 9210, Nokia 9300 and Nokia 9500 Communicators, adding OPXs routines for handling SMS and managing Bluetooth communication.

Other OPL features include those with a letter 'g' at the beginning, for graphical functions; those with a letter 'm', for menus; and those with a letter 'd', for dialogs.

See also

  • History of Symbian
  • Psion Organiser


External links

Edited: 2021-06-18 18:15:05