This FAQ is an attempt to answer the common TI-Basic related questions that people ask. Many of the questions are related to each other, so it is recommended that you read through the whole list. If you have any questions that aren't mentioned on the list, please post them in the forum or leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
Q: Is TI-Basic easy to learn?
A: Yes! TI-Basic has the majority of the standard features and functionality that you find in other BASIC programming language variants (i.e., things like user input and variables are very similar), so if you can learn those languages, TI-Basic should be no problem. If TI-Basic is your first exposure to programming, it will require some work to learn, but it is definitely worth it because TI-Basic is a fun language to use.
Q: How do I learn TI-Basic?
A: The best way to learn TI-Basic is to download a copy of the manual, and start making small, sample programs to try out the different TI-Basic commands. Once you feel comfortable with the commands, you can start putting them together to create larger programs. After that, you should move on to learning the more advanced design concepts and techniques that are part of TI-Basic.
Q: Where can I get information on TI-Basic?
A: The wiki you are currently on has the largest collection of TI-Basic information available, including commands, design concepts, techniques, and experimentation. The downloads page has a comprehensive list of TI-Basic tutorials from elsewhere on the Internet, as well as some of the different tools and utilities.
Q: Do you have a tutorial about [subject]?
A: The best way to find out is to use the search box. If you don't find what you are looking for, leave a comment in the forum and one of us will try to help you. We won't guarantee that you will find everything on this wiki that you are looking for, since it is a constant work in progress and there are simply too many topics to cover. If you would like to make a suggestion for a new tutorial, you can add it to the wiki to-do list.
Q: Some of the tutorials appear to be unfinished. Why is this?
A: Since this is a wiki, and anyone can contribute, our policy is that we will post any legitimate tutorial that contains some useful information. Even if the person who started the tutorial doesn't finish it, there is a good likelihood that someone else will stumble upon it, and can improve or add on to it until it is finished. If you ever see a tutorial that could be improved in some way, we encourage you to just go ahead and change it.
Q: Where did the TI-Basic name come from?
A: Back when the language was growing in popularity and use, people wanted a simple name to refer to it that was easy to remember and told you what it was. Because it is the built-in programming language of the TI graphing calculators, and it is a variant of BASIC, TI-Basic is what they called it. You should note that the name is unofficial, as TI has never actually given it a name (for example, try searching for TI-Basic in the calculator manual; you won't find it).
Q: I've seen TI-Basic spelled with all uppercase (TI-BASIC) and with mixed case (TI-Basic), but what is the correct way to spell it?
A: Truthfully, there is no one correct way to spell it. It is just a personal preference. On this wiki, however, you will probably notice that we spell TI-Basic with mixed case. The primary reason for that decision is because it is easier to read (all caps aren't very reader-friendly).
Q: What languages do the TI calculators support?
A: The TI-83+ and TI-84+ support several different languages, including: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Hungarian, and Polish. You just need to download a language localization application to install the respective language on your calculator. The applications can be found on the application page on TI's site.
Q: What calculators support TI-Basic?
A: All of the TI graphing calculators have TI-Basic support built-in. Of course, the calculators each have their own TI-Basic variant (see next question).
Q: What's the difference between TI-83 Basic and 68K TI-Basic?
A: Simply put, a whole lot. TI-83 Basic lacks all sorts of things that 68K TI-Basic has, including indirection, local variables and functions, advanced picture manipulation, text in matrices, and so on. It's a shame, too, because these things are extremely useful, and make TI-Basic that much richer of a language.
Q: Is there a place where I can interact with other TI-Basic programmers?
A: Yes. There is a fairly active forum available on this site where you can ask questions, get program feedback, share ideas, or whatever else you want to talk about. Another active forum is United-TI, and several of the members of this wiki are active members there.
Q: Where can I find TI-Basic games and programs to download?
A: While there are several calculator sites on the Internet that have TI-Basic programs, including ticalc.org, calc.org, calcgames.org, and unitedti.org, most of the TI-Basic programs are of subpar quality, featuring crappy coding, gameplay, and graphics. If you are looking for quality TI-Basic programs, your best bet is to check out the programs on the showcases page.
Q: I don't want to buy the Graph Link cable. Can't I just type in the games by hand?
A: Yes, you can type in the games. All you need to do is download the Graph Link or TI-Connect software created by TI. You then start up the program, and open your game in the editor. If you don't like the idea of downloading an application, an alternative option is to view the games online using the SourceCoder application.
Q: I have a Graph Link cable, and want to send a game to my calculator. How do I do that?
A: Assuming you already have either the Graph Link or TI-Connect software (see previous question), you simply start up the software, click send to open the send menu, find your desired game, and then click transfer to send the game to your calculator. Note that if a game has several files that go with it (such as pictures and subprograms), you need to send those files with the game in order for it to work correctly.
Q: What is an emulator?
A: An emulator allows you to run a virtual form of your calculator on your computer, which is very convenient when you want to make quick changes to programs, or do any debugging or optimizing. There are several emulators available for you to use, so you should just experiment to see which one you prefer.
Q: I downloaded an emulator for my calculator, but it won't work because it says it needs a ROM image. What is that?
A: A ROM image is simply an instance of your calculator, which tells the emulator that you own your calculator. It is primarily used as a safeguard because only one person is supposed to be using any one ROM image. To download the ROM image to your computer, you just link your calculator to your computer, and then the emulator should be able to download the ROM image off of it.
Q: I have an awesome idea for a game, but I don't know how to program. Can you program it for me?
A: While we would like to help you program your game, we each have our own projects that we're working on and other real-world things (like school and a job) that occupy our time, so we aren't able to program your game for you. At the same time, if you have a specific TI-Basic programming question that you need help with, we'd be happy to help you. Even better than us programming your game, though, is you programming it yourself (see next question).
Q: What do I need to make games?
A: The main things you need to make games are your TI calculator and calculator manual. Before you actually implement a game, however, you should plan it out. This involves coming up with the idea for the game, and working out the many details of the game: graphics, gameplay, menus, and so on. Once you have all of those things figured out, you just need to put them into action.
Q: What is a good tutorial for making games?
A: Unfortunately, there really is no comprehensive game tutorial available. Instead, there are several small tutorials that each cover different aspects of games. In addition, on this wiki there are quite a few techniques covered, including animation, custom menus, saving, highscores, maps, and movement.
Q: Can I use a routine from this wiki in my game?
A: Yes! In fact, we encourage it. All of the routines on this site are designed to be as optimized and efficient as possible, so that readers learn the best way to program.
Q: Can I use sprites from other games in my own game?
A: The general consensus among the calculator programming community is that using somebody else's graphics in your game is fine, as long as you get their permission to do so. However, if you don't plan on releasing your game to the community, but instead just keeping it to yourself and your friends, then it doesn't really matter.
Q: How do I draw graphics?
A: You need to use the graph screen commands to draw graphics. There are several commands available, including points, pixels, lines, circles, and text. The one caveat you need to be aware of when drawing graphics is that the graph screen settings affect how some of the commands show up. See the respective command pages for more information.
Q: I've tried using the graphics commands, but they are too slow for my game. Is there a way to get better graphics?
A: In fact, there is. You can use one of the assembly libraries that is available. In particular, the best two assembly libraries for graphics are Omnicalc and xLIB. You can use them to create complex sprites, or any of the other advanced graphics that you see in TI-Basic programs.
Q: Can I do [task] in TI-Basic?
A: While it's possible to do almost anything in TI-Basic, whether it looks nice and runs at a decent speed is a different matter. If you have thoroughly planned your program and made it as optimized as possible, and your program still takes a minute to load and there's a five second lag after each key press, that's a good indicator that you should probably use Assembly instead. At the same time, you should always strive to push the boundaries of TI-Basic.
Q: How do I convert a number to a string and vice versa?
A: Converting a string to a number is actually very easy, and involves simply using the expr( command. Going the other way, however, is much more complicated because there is no built-in command to do it. What you need to use instead is a small number-to-string routine that involves using the LinReg(ax+b) command in an unorthodox way.
Q: What's the difference between setting a variable to zero and using the DelVar command?
A: When you set a variable to zero, you simply make its value zero. When you use the DelVar command on a variable, you actually delete the variable from memory. For letter variables, the next time the variable is used it is set to zero. DelVar also has some optimization capabilities associated with using it.
Q: How do I un/archive programs from within a program?
A: While the Archive and UnArchive commands would seem like the right commands to use, they actually don't work with programs from inside the program editor — interestingly enough, though, they do work with programs on the home screen outside of the program editor. What you need to use instead is an assembly program, such as Celtic.
Q: I want my program to be run when a person turns on their calculator. Is there a way to do that?
A: Not in TI-Basic, but you can use a Flash application to do that. TI created a Start-Up Customization application which will allow you to run a specific program, application or show a picture on the calculator screen each time the calculator is turned on.
Q: Are there any undocumented features (Easter eggs) in TI-Basic?
A: Of course. Probably the most well-known undocumented feature is large text on the graph screen, which is achieved by placing a -1 at the beginning of the Text( command. Another cool undocumented feature which was recently discovered is the ability to draw circles significantly faster by placing a list with an imaginary i after the last argument. Besides those two Easter eggs, the TI-Basic community has made great strides in understanding TI-Basic and its many different facets.
Q: How do you disable the ON key?
A: Unfortunately, you can't. You need to use assembly to disable the ON key.
Q: How do I hide the code of my TI-Basic program?
A: While you can edit-lock a program and employ some other protection mechanisms, that only really prevents novice calculator users from getting access to your code. Anybody who knows what they are doing will have no problem bypassing your program protection.
Q: Where do you get the lowercase letters?
A: Lowercase letters aren't available by default, so you need to use an assembly program to turn on the lowercase flag that the calculator uses for enabling lowercase letters. You then just press Alpha twice to switch to lowercase mode. A good substitute for lowercase letters is the statistics variables, accessible by pressing VARS and then scrolling down to Statistics. Please note that while lowercase letters look nice, they each take up two bytes of memory, instead of the one byte that uppercase letters use.
Q: I think some of the routines on this wiki have errors in them, because they didn't work for me. Could you please correct them?
A: We have strived to make sure that all of the routines on this site work correctly and without problems. However, if you are 100% sure that you entered the routine correctly into your calculator, please leave a comment on the page using the comment function at the bottom of the page. Somebody will then be able to correct the routine so that it won't cause anybody else any problems.
Q: I downloaded a program from the Internet, but it has a .8xg extension instead of the typical .8xp extension. What is that, and how do I get it work?
A: The .8xg means that it is a group file (compared to the .8xp for programs), which you must ungroup in order to use. A group file contains one or more files, which can consist of whatever you want (programs, pictures, variables, or whatever else). The main reason that people group their programs is so that all of the program files are in one file, rather than having to remember lots of separate files; it's a matter of convenience.
Q: I found a TI-Basic program on the Internet, and typed it into my calculator. How come the program doesn't work?
A: While TI-Basic commands and functions look like they are made up of individual characters that you can type in, they are actually tokens that must be obtained by going to the relevant menu or pressing a key. Depending on the size of the program, it might be better to simply download the entire program to your calculator, instead of manually entering it in.
Q: I was playing a TI-Basic game and my calculator suddenly shut off. When I turned it back on, my memory was erased. What happened?
A: Your game had a glitch of some kind, and it caused the calculator to crash. This is usually caused by Assembly programs, as the majority of TI-Basic errors are caught by the calculator. You don't have to worry very much about TI-Basic crashes because they don't do any real permanent damage to the calculator, but because it is very annoying to have to replace all of your programs after your RAM is cleared, you should always store any important files in the archive.
Q: When I tried to run my TI-Basic program, I got this error message. What does it mean?
A: TI-Basic has a built-in error menu, which displays a respective error message based on the error that occurred. If the program is not edit-locked, then it will have a Goto option, which will take you to the point in the code where the error is. There's actually a whole list of error messages that you can receive at any one time, so you should just go down the list and try to see what you did to cause the error.
Q: I downloaded a TI-83 TI-Basic program, and tried to run it on my TI-84+SE calculator. It looked like it should work, but it doesn't. How come?
A: The majority of TI-83 TI-Basic programs will work on the TI-83+ and TI-84+ calculators, and likewise the majority of TI-83+ and TI-84+ TI-Basic programs will work on the TI-83. However, if a program uses either Assembly (Assembly must be compiled for the specific calculator in order to work) or any of the new TI-Basic commands/functions that TI added, then the program will not work on another calculator. See program portability for more information.
Q: After I finished running a TI-Basic game, my screen was split in two between the home screen and the graph screen. On top of that, the axes on the graph screen were gone. How do I get my calculator back to normal?
A: Unfortunately for you, the person who programmed the game didn't do a good job of cleaning up after their program, so you have to do that yourself. The calculator has several different settings that you can change to make it look however you want. In this case, you want the screen to just show the full home screen, so the appropriate command would be Full. Turning the axes back on can be accomplished by using the AxesOn command.
Q: What is assembly?
A: Assembly is the other primary programming language available for the TI-83 series of calculators, and it is a low-level language programmed in the calculator's own machine language.
Q: How does TI-Basic compare to assembly?
A: TI-Basic is much easier to learn and program in, but it is rather slow because it is an interpreted language. This not only affects getting user input, but also displaying text and graphics on the screen. Assembly on the other hand, is much harder to learn, but allows you to make all sorts of complex games and programs that look nice and run at a decent speed.
Q: Is it possible to convert TI-Basic to assembly?
A: No, it is not. There are currently no working programs available that will convert TI-Basic to assembly (note: I say working because people have tried creating TI-Basic to assembly converters, but nobody has completed one yet), so the only way you can convert a TI-Basic program to assembly is by learning assembly and porting the program yourself. You could also try asking an assembly programmer to port it for you, but most people won't do that unless the program is pretty small.
Q: I want to use an assembly program with my TI-Basic program, but I can't figure out how to use it. Can you help me?
A: Unfortunately, we really can't do much for you. What we recommend is that you contact the author of the assembly program and ask them for help. They wrote the program, so naturally they should be able to answer any questions that you have.
Q: When I tried to run a program from the program menu, it gave me a ERR:SYNTAX error with no Goto option. Why would it do that?
A: This means that you tried to run an assembly program. Most assembly programs are run from an assembly shell, such as MirageOS or Ion, but there are some assembly programs that you can run just using the Asm( command. These are commonly called nostub.
Q: Why would I want to run my TI-Basic program from an assembly shell?
A: Most people have assembly games on their calculator, which require an assembly shell to run, so they get accustomed to running their programs through a shell. In addition, they like being able to run all their games in a shell, including their TI-Basic games, so they don't have to exit the shell. Truthfully, though, there is really no advantage to running a TI-Basic program from a shell. It's just a personal preference.
Q: How do I run my TI-Basic program from an assembly shell?
A: The standard way to get a TI-Basic program to appear in an assembly shell is to add a special header to the beginning of the program. This header consists of a colon (:), and then you you can add an optional program description that will be displayed together with your program in the shell.
PROGRAM:SAMPLE ::"Program name // note the two colons : // program code
DoorsCS also has support for a custom icon, which needs to be stored in hexadecimal format. You should look at the documentation for DoorsCS to see how to use it.