Monday, January 9, 2012

Microsoft Small Basic

Microsoft Small Basic is a free compiler for beginners to computer programming.  You can find it at the Beginner Developer Learning Center at MSDN.  Microsoft wants to put the fun back into computer programming with Small Basic and includes a getting started guideonline lessons, online e-books chapters, and code sharing.

The syntax is not the same as the BASIC I learned as a kid on the TI 99/4a or the Commodore 64, but more of a take off on Microsoft languages like VB.  For example, compare the classic "Hello World" in BASIC to Small Basic.


In Microsoft Small Basic it's a bit different:

TextWindow.WriteLine("Hello World")

The longer function name doesn't look as fun to me, but they make it easier to remember with help as you type.  I can't find any auto-complete, but that is probably just as well for beginners.

Microsoft makes it easy to migrate your Small Basic program to Visual Basic, there is a Graduate button built into the interface that will convert your program automatically.

I found Microsoft Small Basic when I was looking for a free compiler for a child to learn computer programming.  I think it is a good choice, it should keep them interested because it is easy to use and they can get instant results with the run button, like you do in classic BASIC programming.  They even have turtle graphics, which is always fun for kids.  When they become more advanced programmers, they might be interested in the free sample chapter from Basic Computer Games Small Basic Edition.

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