fourth-generation language


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fourth-generation language

[′fȯrth ‚jen·ə¦rā·shən ′laŋ·gwij]
(computer science)
A higher-level programming language that automates many of the basic functions that must be spelled out in conventional languages, and can obtain results with an order-of-magnitude less coding because of its richer content of commands.

fourth-generation language

A non-procedural programming language that requires less coding than lower-level languages. Command-line languages that come with operating systems and database management systems (DBMSs) are fourth-generation languages (4GLs), as are query languages and report writers. Any language with English-like commands that does not require traditional input-process-output logic falls into this category.

In addition, software tools that uses graphical interfaces for building applications or generating queries are also considered fourth generation. Underlying the menus and buttons are fourth-generation command structures that are activated with a click of the mouse.

First-, Second- and Third-Generation Languages
First-generation languages are binary machine languages. Second-generation languages are machine-dependent assembly languages, and third-generation languages (3GLs) are high-level programming languages, such as FORTRAN, COBOL, BASIC, Pascal, C/C++ and Java.

Many languages are actually a mix of both third- and fourth-generation languages. The following dBASE example shows the difference in syntax to open a customer file and display names and cities. In the 3GL language, the test for end of file and the loop to go back to the top and repeat the process are necessary. In second-generation languages, the specific screen columns must be identified. Contrast with non-procedural language. See compiler, machine language and assembly language.

dBASE                  dBASEProcedural             Non-Procedural3GL Language           4GL Language

 use customerFile       use customerFile
 do while .not. eof()   list name, city
   ? name, city
   skip
 enddo
References in periodicals archive ?
As is common with fourth-generation languages such as Focus", Brown continued, "end-users may have built these systems without the support of central programming departments.
Cincom offers mission-critical software ranging from document production and enterprise manufacturing applications, to solutions for object-oriented and fourth-generation language application development and database management systems.
Fourth-Generation Language (4GLs)-Automate the generation of server side components, thereby accelerating the development process.
Additionally, he spent four years with a prominent commercial software house in Australia before becoming an independent consultant in IBM mainframe fourth-generation languages.