back to article Break out the jelly and ice cream! Microsoft's Small Basic turns 10

Microsoft’s Small Basic broke out the jelly and ice cream today as the language celebrated its 10th birthday. The language, now at the same age as much of its target audience, was first announced back in 2008 although it took until 2011 for the first stable release to make an appearance. Sporadic development of the language …

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I guess I'm not alone here, but I've never even heard of it - nice marketing MS !!

Good luck today competing against the far more portable and useful scripting and programming languages such as python and JavaScript.

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"Good luck today competing against the far more portable and useful scripting and programming languages such as python and JavaScript."

This^^. Why would anyone want to start someone young with outdated concepts such as BASIC? I have to think that the entire "team" for small basic is like.... 1 person. Porting to a new .NET framework counts as an entire release? Wow.

Grow into VB? Really? Get a clue MS -> you should be concentrating on hiring more people to test/QA Windows 10, instead of putting out half-baked crud like small basic. MS is so messed up right now, I really have to wonder what Windows will be like 5 years from now...

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Honey, I shrunk Tiny BASIC and someone stood on it.

I guess I'm not alone here, but I've never even heard of it - nice marketing MS !!

My thoughts exactly, never mind the jelly and ice cream, hand me a magnifying glass, it's BASICally unknown.

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Small Basic was a part of Microsoft's efforts to help get kids coding and it was reasonable enough in that respect. It was a cut-down Visual Basic so of little interest to anyone outside educational fields.

Given its target audience, its limited functionality, and the inevitable slagging off Basic and Visual Basic gets, as well as Microsoft themselves, it's not really surprising they didn't try and promote it to the wider community.

It's actually not a bad offering. It is extensible so can be used for things it was never intended for. It even allows a Windows App to use an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi as a remote GPIO device.

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"Why would anyone want to start someone young with outdated concepts such as BASIC?"

When I first learned to program about 40 years ago (jeez, I'm old), it was a commonly held stance that nobody should be exposed to BASIC until they have already learned at least one other language. This is because BASIC lets you get away with terrible programming practices and so it brought a risk that new programmers would learn bad habits far too early in the game.

I still think there's merit to that argument.

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BASIC bears about as much resemblance to VB as ASSEMBLY does to C.

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This, and all this!

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FAIL

TextWindow.WriteLine("Hello World!")

That'll get 'em while they're young.

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Small BASIC?

I still remember the 70s and Tiny BASIC.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li-Chen_Wang#Palo_Alto_Tiny_BASIC (There's a link to 8080 source code for Tiny BASIC at the bottom of the article)

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Surprise?

"... was first announced back in 2008 although it took until 2011 for the first stable release to make an appearance."

Is anyone surprised by this?

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Re: Surprise?

I think they took the Windows Insiders feedback serious.

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Childcatcher

Re: Surprise?

"... was first announced back in 2008 although it took until 2011 for the first 'stable' release to make an appearance."

Quotes within quotes, even sarcastic quotes, are always a bit awkward.

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Funny this came up

Over the last couple of weeks I've been visiting schools in Tameside (by son is going to senior school next year). He is keen on computers so visited the ICT departments and most talked about Scratch and python.

All except one which said they use Small Basic. Didn't think much of it until I saw this so it is being used somewhere. Not saying it's good of bad but looking at the GCSE Computer Science syllabus the actual language they learn to program in is fairly irrelevant.

Example question Identify three benefits of using layers when working with network protocols :-)

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QBasic

Brings back memories of the UK Fire service strike 2002 /3. I spend several days waiting for Green Goddess fire trucks to break down. During that period and on a monochrome laptop with no internet access I wrote a playable version of pong followed by arkanoid with nothing more than the built in help. Drawing the paddle and balls using individual pixels then grabbing the memory address and blitting back to the screen, learning collision detection etc. I had never programmed before and had a team of testers ready to pull it to pieces and take the piss until i got it right, then i couldn't tear the bloody thing off them to make more improvements.

The Google instruction book / copy paste is way too easy these days lol

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What took them so long?

Microsoft first appeared as a vendor of BASIC, it was pretty much the de-facto standard for all machines in the late 70s/early 80s. The first editions of PCs had Microsoft's GWBASIC built in, its what the BIOS booted to in the absence of a disk operating system (or, more accurately, disk drives). Years later two vendors offered versions of BASIC that supported Windows, one being purchased by Microsoft and becoming the Visual Basic that we all know.

BASIC -- "Beginners All purpose Symbolic Instruction Code" -- had its place in the early history of computing but even in the 1970s it wasn't thought to be a very good language to start beginning programmers on. (The fact that it was often used to teach programming just meant people had to unlearn everything they learned from their BASIC course.)(Although to be fair, VB does do away with most of the really nasty features of BASIC proper.) There was an attempt to build a language system purpose designed for education -- LOGO -- but I'd guess that it being too close to abstract languages and not tightly integrated with the OS du jour (Windows) meant that it wasn't going to go anywhere.

Anyway, this does explain why a lot of newly minted programmers are useless ("until retrained") and so much of modern applications script code is crap.

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swm

Re: What took them so long?

BASIC was developed at Dartmouth College in 1964 by John Kemeny and Tom Kurtz on a ~40 user time-sharing system. Dr. Kemeny actually wrote the first BASIC compiler after throwing everyone out of the computer room. The first BASIC system used a compiler and was not interpreted. It was loosely modelled on FORTRAN without the FORMAT statement. It was designed to be taught in a hour and was largely successful in this. The original BASIC had matrix statements allowing matrix inversion and multiplication.

I wrote a forerunner to BASIC called DOPE (Dartmouth Oversimplified Programming Experiment) in 1962 on the LGP-30 and many of the limiting features of the original BASIC can be traced to this program.

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Re: What took them so long?

"I wrote a forerunner to BASIC called DOPE (Dartmouth Oversimplified Programming Experiment) in 1962 on the LGP-30 and many of the limiting features of the original BASIC can be traced to this program."

- GOTO the top of the CLASS

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Anonymous Coward

Ten years

And up to version 0.9 already! In your face, open sourcers!

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Concepts

I think the point is to teach kids the concepts of programming rather than bring hung up on what language they write in. How many new "languages" are around these days compared to 10 years ago? When these kids get to work age - what's the programming scene going to look like then?

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