Microsoft’s Small Basic: Launching a New Generation of Programmers – Literally

My interest in computers was launched, oddly enough, byt the basic programming language. With it I wrote a spelling program that was used by a teacher friend of my Moms — for 17 years. The secret? I flatter myself that I invented digital bling — you cannot IMAGINE the horror of colors and graphics that displayed when the user got the spelling right for a word.

But enough of my self flattery. Let me let ReadWriteWeb provide the rationale for Microsoft’s new, simplified version of Basic.

After a year in the making, and with very little fanfare, Microsoft last month launched Small Basic, a free programming language aimed at kids. Unlike Scratch and Alice, tools designed for kids to learn programming in a ‘codeless’ environment, Small Basic is essentially a small version of the BASIC language.

BASIC has undergone many changes since its inception 40 years ago and while its growth has made it more powerful and capable, it has also become almost overwhelming for a beginner. Even though Small Basic is primarily aimed at children, it just may be the ideal way for anyone interested in programming to dip their feet in the water.

And here’s how MSFT describes it:

Small Basic is a project that’s aimed at bringing “fun” back to programming. By providing a small and easy to learn programming language in a friendly and inviting development environment, Small Basic makes programming a breeze. Ideal for kids and adults alike, Small Basic helps beginners take the first step into the wonderful world of programming.

Small Basic derives its inspiration from the original BASIC programming language, and is based on the Microsoft .Net platform. It is really small with just 15 keywords and uses minimal concepts to keep the barrier to entry as low as possible.

The Small Basic development environment is simple, yet provides powerful modern environment features like Intellisenseā„¢ and instant context sensitive help.

Small Basic allows third-party libraries to be plugged in with ease, making it possible for the community to extend the experience in fun and interesting ways.

I love this idea – by making computing more accessible, there will be an explosion of interest in programming — the sort of thing that means additional creativity in the years ahead.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to write.