Absoft Pro Fortran is among the top ranked Fortran compiler / IDE’s. The reasons for choosing a given compiler depends on your immediate requirements, level of expertise, and the platforms you plan to support with your applications. While gFortran is freely available, it does not include a full Fortran IDE exclusive to Fortran alone and the performance benchmarks are not as strong as some of the paid solutions.
Polyhedron’s “Fortran Compiler Advice” presents a number of considerations when choosing your Fortran compiler and also presents comprehensive Fortran Compiler Comparisons to help you decide which option is best for you.
Why Absoft Pro Fortran?
I currently use Lahey Rainier edition with Winteracter for GUI applications as well as Silverfrost FTN95 that supports .NET and works well with Winteracter too. Silverfrost’s PLATO IDE is easy to use and is ideally suited to develop small and medium sized applications especially for .NET. Both Lahey and Silverfrost offer integration with Visual Studio.
I read a lot of positive reviews and seldom is an article remiss to mention the Absoft Pro Fortran product. It does not generate the fastest execution times, but it does outperform others in a number of categories. While Intel’s Fortran compiler appears to set the overall performance benchmark, it’s price point may be out of reach for individual developers.
Absoft offers easy to use compiler optimizations at varying levels, including auto parallelization, and the simplicity of deploying them is unique to Absofts IDE. The Absoft IDE includes The Microsoft Runtime Window Environment (MRWE) and the cross-platform Absoft Window Environment (AWE). Choosing to use either of these Window Environments among other options simply requires choosing the “Target Type” from the Project Options Target menu.
As such, the Absoft Pro Fortran compiler / IDE may just be the Goldilocks solution that won’t break the bank. The Absoft Pro Fortran IDE is a complete and professional development environment all in a single IDE that also supports the C/C++ languages.
Integrated Version Control is one feature that is missing. Although this can be managed separately, having it integrated into the IDE is something I’ve learned to appreciate when working with Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code.
How to Get Your Free Evaluation Copy
Visit the Absoft.com Website and fill out the form to request your FREE Absoft Pro Fortran Evaluation copy. After submitting the form, you will receive an email containing installation instructions, a link to your free download, and the KEY to activate your free trial.
We signed up for the FREE Pro Fortran Evaluation and received an email to download the 30-day trial version the very next day. Note that the site states that requests may take up to 2 business days to process. It is also important to note that any applications developed with the trial version are subject to the same expiry date of the evaluation period. In other words, if you want the advantages Absoft Pro Fortran has to offer, you will have to pay for it.
I’ll be be working with Absoft Pro Fortran 2021 over the next 30 days to compare it against the others already installed my system. Having to minimize any interactions with the outside world to comply with Covid-19 restrictions, the evaluation timing is perfect.
Installing Absoft Pro Fortran 2021
To commence with the installation, follow the instructions provided in the email from Absoft. You will need the “KEY” that appears near the end of the email to continue with the installation.
WARNING! The installer does not update the path environment variable to the location where the Absoft Pro Fortran IDE is installed. You will be required to enter a valid path to the installation directory accordingly. You must also ensure the path to “cmd.exe” is accessible from your path environment as well.
Follow the step by step instructions below to install Absoft Pro Fortran 21.0 for WINDOWS 10:
Download file size: 480MB. Once downloaded, click to run the installer and accept the EULA terms.
Click “Pro Fortran 2021
Click Next, then read and accept the License Agreement
Click Next and select the destination folder. The installation requires 1.2GB of space so be sure to have ample space on your drive.
Click Install and choose the license type. The evaluation trial is a “Single, named-user” license”.
Click Next to install the software.
With reference to the email received for the evaluation copy / download, enter the serial number in the Absoft Pro Fortran License Wizard window:
Click Finish to begin installing the application.
Would you like to register AbsoftTools as the default editor for Fortran files? How you respond to this question depends on your intentions to purchase the product in the long run.
Installation is now complete!
Click Next and check the box next to Create Desktop Shortcut (optional).
When returned to the “Absoft Pro Fortran 2021” window, click “Additional Libraries”:
Choose the components you want to install. Note the space required is 236.3MB.
Click Next and choose the destination folder. Note the destination folder defaults to the same directory as the Pro Fortran Installation.
Click Install and wait for it to complete:
IMSL 2018 (32/64 bit)
When returned to the main “Absoft Pro Fortran 2021” window, click IMSL 2018 (32/64 bit). Note that Rogue Wave software is now part of Perforce Software. Visit the Perforce.com website for more details on all products offered by Perforce.
The IMSL product is not part of the Absoft Pro Fortran 2021 evaluation copy. You can sign up for a free trial from the Perforce.com website. However, this product is not free.
Accept the License Agreement
IMSL Installation Directory: Choose the destination folder (default is the same as the Absoft Pro Fortran directory):
Click Next and enter the license key.
Click Next and follow the instructions on the subsequent windows to complete the installation. Note that this product is not included in the Pro Fortran Evaluation software.
For IMSL.com for more details on the IMSL Numerical Libraries for C, Fortran, Java, and Python. You can read the IMSL Fortran Numerical Library Function Catalog Version 2020.0
GINO GUI Lite
From the main Absoft Pro Fortran 2021 window, select GINO GUI Lite Edition and follow the setup instructions that appear on subsequent windows. Note that this product installs into it’s own separate directory. We installed this product on our machine, although Winteracter will remain our GUI interface of choice. More advanced GINO packages are available for purchase separately.
After the Gino installation is complete, the documentation for “USING GINO GUI LITE WITH ABSOFT PRO FORTRAN under Windows Win8/10 (32 and 64 bit) appears in your browser. Note that the GINO installer will modify the System Path and required environment variables.
Set Environment Variables
As mentioned earlier, the path environment variable must be updated manually to reflect the installation location of the Absoft Pro Fortran IDE and cmd.exe:
Press the Window key and click on settings (or type settings). When the Windows Settings window appears, enter “environment” in the search box and click “Edit the system environment variables”.
When the System Properties window appears, click the “Environmental Variables” button near the bottom right corner of the window.
The Environment Variables window appears where you can edit User variables for your account or System variables. Select the Path variable in the applicable list box and click the Edit button.
Click the new button to Add the path to the Absoft21.0 and Absoft21.0/bin directories in the Edit environment variable window as pictured below:
Click the new button to Add the path to cmd.exe (C:\WINDOWS\system32\) and follow these steps to find the path to the cmd.exe file:
Press the Window key, type cmd.exe, and click on “Open file location”.
The Command Prompt Shortcut should appear highlighted and checked. Right click on the Command Prompt Shortcut and click “Open File Location”.
The file Explorer window appears and the cmd.exe file should be checked and highlighted. Copy the file’s directory location from the address bar (highlighted in blue as pictured below) and paste it into the path variable.
When you have finished entering the path variables, click OK and proceed to click OK on the remaining open windows.
RESTART your computer for the path variables to take effect.
That concludes the installation process. Now to test the application and make sure it works!
Double Click the DeskTop icon to start the application or press the Windows Start key and search for the Absoft Pro Fortran apps. Click on the Developer Tools Interface app:
The IDE has loaded successfully and we’re almost ready to get started. Rather than continue to walk through the process of creating a program here, I defer to the documentation that is readily available from the IDE itself. Click the “X” to close the “Welcome To Absoft Developer Tools” window that appears.
When the Window has closed, click Help on the main menu tab, then on the “Getting Started” option. Using AbsoftTools on Windows appears and “describes the steps required to build and run a simple project with AbsoftTools Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and Absoft Pro Fortran.”
Working through the guide will help to familiarize yourself with the IDE itself and to create your very first program using it as evidenced below. I moved the command shell window over the IDE to mimimize the space required to show the results.
There is more to this IDE than meets the eye at first glance. I was pleasantly surprised by the many features offered by this seemingly simplistic user interface. It has a lightweight feel with heavyweight options behind the scenes.
The installation instructions do not advise you to change your PATH settings! As such, the initial installation process was slightly frustrating until I discovered, with the help of firstname.lastname@example.org, that the installer for the Absoft Pro Fortran IDE does not initialize the path variables to the IDE or to cmd.exe. I must commend the support at Absoft as they replied to my first email in just under 1-1/2 hours. The few subsequent email exchanges were more timely.
If the PATH environment variable is not set as described above, any attempts to build even the simple “HelloAbsoft” program fails.
With reference to the picture above, the Build window generates the following output:
Begin clean cmd.exe:No such file or directory amake2: *** Error code 1 Clean interrupted
I signed up to the Absoft Forum hoping to find answers, but there were no immediate solutions to address the problem. The closest solution from the “forumadmin” advised emailing support. I did just that and within a short period of time, a simple fix was found as presented in our step by step instructions presented above.
First Impressions – Conclusion
The installation process is not difficult but requires some patience. Aside from frustration of discovering the path setting issues, the installation process was otherwise uneventful.
I like the look and feel of this IDE and appreciate the simplicity, organization, and presentation of the menus and options that accompany them. The getting started guide is easy to read and follow.
The documentation and resources are readily available in the Help menu:
The IDE allows you to focus on your code unlike the Lahey Rainier Fortran set up that runs under Visual Studio. I am more than comfortable working with Visual Studio, but it can be intimidating for someone entertaining it for the first time.
Silverfrost’s PLATO IDE is a little more complex on the front end, but only slightly. The Absoft Pro Fortran IDE icons are larger and easier to discern.
The execution times achieved using the Absoft Pro Fortran compiler are slightly better than both the Lahey Rainier and Silverfrost FTN95 but would likely be considered moot to anyone using the application I tested. Silverfrost is a Windows only IDE / compiler unlike Absoft Pro Fortran which is a “cross-platform” solution.
Each of my currently owned Fortran compilers offers a lightweight GUI solution that can be enhanced by purchasing an upgrade. The Absoft Pro Fortran IDE is no different. The GINO light version may be sufficient for some applications. but upgrades can be purchased for more advanced features and functionality if required.
I purchased Winteracter, currently at version 14.0, and happens to be compatible with each of my Fortran packages. Fortunately, a FREE AbsoftTools Winteracter Plugin is Available from the Winteracter website.
My evaluation terminates on 16-Jan-2021, so there’s still time to make the final decision. So far, I like what I see.