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Small Basic's future RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • An answer by Litdev to a question about «.NET 4.0 Extension Assembly for Small Basic?», started me thinking about Small Basic's future. I quote Litdev : « I guess at some point if the SmallBasic project is maintained by MS it will move to .Net 4.» . Version 1 is not out yet and we are hearing about it possibly not surviving?! That's not very encouraging. Would it also explain why we have not heard from Vijaye Raji for over a year?
    Tuesday, June 28, 2011 3:19 PM

All replies

  • Dick,

    This is what I know and don't know.

    Version 0.9 of SmallBasic is a pretty complete version, able to achieve its aims for the target users.  It could benefit from a few bug fixes, but I don't think many new features are really needed.  So what we have is pretty good.

    We haven't heard from Vijaye because he left MS around the beginning of 2011.  Since then I have made a couple of inquiries but have had no info from MS regarding its plans for SmallBasic; however MS is a big organisation and may take its time - we are probably not its top priority! 

    The best way in my opinion to show the value of SmallBasic is to continue to use it and show it is wanted by actively participating in this forum as I and many others do.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011 6:09 PM
    Moderator
  • When I read your reply, Letdev, I was angry and frustrated and I still am.

    Angry because I have been inquiring since June 2010 about the absence of Vijaye Radji at the forum and the only answers I received were of being patient like «All in good time». Well, the time has come and the cat has come out of the bag : the author has left MS without a single message stating this fact which would have been the least he could have done if only by respect for us.

    Frustrated because I put in two years of work into learning this new language, telling everybody how potentially good it was and participating in this forum. I had confidence in the future of Small Basic because it was supported by MS but its silence, up to now, is quite eloquent. There is still a chance the «project» will be continued but can we take that chance? What about schools that are waiting for a stable version to organize their curriculum, etc.. I would migrate to Visual Studio and one of its languages but again, why should I patronize a company that does not take care of its own!

    As for you, I disagree when you write that version 0.9 of Small Basic is a pretty complete version. There has been more than 10 300 hits in «Bugs to fix for v1.0», and if only 10% of these are for necessary corrections, I would call that MAJOR error fixes. You should know also that a language that has no future, that cannot evolve, is a dead end and doomed in a near future.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011 7:03 PM
  • Dick,

    I'm sorry you are angry and feel let down, I am not so pessimistic about the future of SmallBasic - it is a good concept and as such I believe it has a good future.  Although we thank Vijaye for his idea and starting SmallBasic it is an MS project and owned by them to develop and progress. 

    The success of a language like SmallBasic isn't the number of updates, rather the number of people it inspires to get started with programming.

    Most languages evolve by adding more and more complex features, SmallBasic is by its very nature not really in this category since its power in my opinion is its small command set and simple interface IDE.

    The intention I believe was always to provide a stepping stone to other more complex languages and environments - this hasn't changed.  Computing is a very long adventure and we are all learning.  SmallBasic is just a very accessible first stepping stone that shows the fun that can be had.  It isn't necessarily an end in itself, just part of the journey.  Whether you go on to web design (html, php, java), windows programing (.Net C# and VB), games and performance intensive programs (C++), scientific computing (Fortran) or many other languages and application variants, starting with SmallBasic is a great start. 

    It is also possible to write pretty advanced programs in SmallBasic - I would suggest that the limits here are not any inadequacies of the current state of 0.9 SmallBasic as the imagination and understanding of the programmer.  Basically a decent programming effort can achieve pretty cool results with what there is - hence my statement in previous post.

    I wish it was there when I started playing with computers - perhaps you have no idea how limited home computers were in the early 80s and how much fun could be had trying to get them to do anything useful - actually understanding quirks is part of the fun - try writing a simple SmallBasic game in native C++ or assembly language as we had to 30 years ago.

    If you are a teacher and feel that the current big fix list prevents you from using it then that is a shame, you are the only one as far as I know asking for updates.

    I guess I just think it has plenty of value as it is and I will continue to be prepared to invest time and effort supporting it.  I am confident SmallBasic has a future.

     



    Wednesday, June 29, 2011 9:31 PM
    Moderator
  • Thank you for your question Dick and for your reply litdev. I’m very sorry that things have been very quiet lately on the blog and forum. I understand that this has been causing frustration for you.  We appreciate your patience and continued passion around Small Basic.  I can’t give you all the details, but we are actively working on some upcoming Small Basic deliverables.  You should expect to hear more information soon (hopefully in July). 

     

    Once again, sorry for the radio silence.  I hope you will watch for upcoming announcements and that you will keep supporting this effort.  I think we all share a passion for helping beginners learn programming, and we know the Small Basic community is key to success.   We’ll try to do a better job of keeping you informed in the future.  Thanks Dick for the reminder about the importance of communication.

     

    Thanks,

    Mike

     

    (Microsoft)

    Thursday, June 30, 2011 3:37 PM
  • Thank you to Mike Hedley for taking some time to update us on the project. Over the last three years we have all become big fans of Vijaye and the project he start here; so please forgive us if there is a small feeling of out rage or betrayal, we are all human.

    Personally, I can't image my life as a high school Computer Science teacher without SmallBasic; the import feature alone saves me countless hours of prep time -- I would like to see that kind of cloud integration in all IDEs in the future. So I am delighted to hear that the project is still alive. We will be burning the lab images for the 2011-2012 school year in late July, so it is good to hear that there is an update in the pike.

    Thanks again for the update, and I for one will be looking forward to seeing what the future holds.

     

    -Matthew L. Parets

     aka codingCat

    Thursday, June 30, 2011 9:09 PM
    Answerer
  • *Looking up to the sky, hoping you will find a way to continue Small Basic*

     

    http://smallbasic.com/program/?HWR942

    Friday, July 1, 2011 10:13 PM
  • This is good news!

    The problem as I see it is not with Small Basic, but finding true Visual Basic Code when you graduate your program.  For example, cosider the snipit:

    Textwindow.wrieline("Hello World")

    When you graduate Small basic code to Visual Basic the graduated code will use the smallbasic dll.  The learning opportunity would be what  is code not using the small basic.dll that will do the samething.  What is the code in C#, C++ that will do the same thing.


    The tool that would be an incredable learning expreiance would be a table with for colums: Small Basic; Visual Basic; C# and C++.  Each row would be the equivalent code for the other languages in the form of building blocks.  Take the first three rows and combine them, and you would have the small basic equivalent in C++ for example.

    As I see it this is the real missing link!

    Bob

     


    Bob Jones
    Friday, July 8, 2011 2:37 AM
  • Reply to Bob Jomes.

    I still prefer a good working version of Small Basic with a regular tune up and a certain evolution.

    I must admit however that your suggestion has its merrit.

    Friday, July 8, 2011 3:07 PM
  • I just stumbled apon Small Basic the other day.  Yes this would have been a great help in the 80's for learning, at least for me.  But GWBasic and Quick Basic worked really well for me as far as understanding and developing my skills.  I think now a days the programing languages are way to compilcated.  Combining so many sub's, functions, into one line of code gets very confusing to follow and frustrating very easly.  What ever happen to "KEEP IT SIMPLE! "?  This is why I like what I saw here and I am going to start using Small Basic to re-create and create programs I have done in the past.  I used GWBasic,Quick Basic,Fortran,PC Assemble Language(UGH), Turbo Assemble, Pascal, Cobol I,II CICS,PL1,RPG III, Microsoft Access, Visual Basic 4.0, C, C++.  I liked C and C++, but when I took a look at the newer languages out here such as C#, it looks like a nightmare to follow.

    So I am hoping that Small Basic stays around and it continues to grow.  It looks pretty simple and straight forward.  Keep it going everyone and keep up the good work.  This is a great learning tool.  Take care every!

     

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011 4:28 PM
  • To Mike Hedley of Microsoft corporation.

    In your letter of June 30 of this year, you said that you were sorry for the radio silence and that you would do a better job of keeping Small Basic users informed in the future. The future is now. We received v 1.0 in July, thank you, but with no explanation of what had been done. We asked for bug corrections and for necessary new functions, but the radio is still dead silent.
    I know I am an ordinary person, nothing compared to the very bright employees of Microsoft, but may I make a suggestion? Could you post a monthly newsletter in our forum, in which you could tell us what has been done, what is being done, what's your long term vision of Small Basic and all other information for upcoming versions.
    Hoping that a new start in our communication relationship will greatly improve.


    Sunday, August 7, 2011 7:16 PM
  • I too would like a list of the requests/bug fixes that the developers are working on, and also ones that have been ignored and will not be pursued. 

    Then there's always returning to the discussion about adding FUNCTIONS to Small Basic.  What is the new team's thoughts on that topic?
    Sunday, August 7, 2011 10:05 PM
  • Well, I´ve just seen this msg.

    I´m an old man, teaching ITC in a secondary school.

    I began my career in those times of Fortran IV and grandfather Basic

    Now I´m using Small Basic. An I love it. And my pupils too.

    Thanks Vijaye Radji. Now we must to continue this work

    Regards

     


    Carlos Fernández Muriano
    Thursday, December 1, 2011 11:27 AM
  • @ Robert Jones

    Being new and still considering some options as to what language to graduate to in the future, I think the conceptual nature of a beginning language is more important than specific commands and code words.  I'd like to see something included that teaches you a fundamental idea of programming rather than a specific instance because I'm not sure which language I want to go to next.  For me, my two choices I'm looking into most are vb and c++, but that doesn't mean those are my only two options.

    What I mean is, I'd rather there be something in sb to teach the difference between global and local variables rather than to include the specific commands and/or syntax from some other language.  Its an important concept to grasp, but I'm sure there's a dozen different ways to implement it in different languages.  I don't think i'd like sb very much if I had to learn four different ways to do the same thing, especially if I ended up wanting to learn a language other than those four.


    Allen
    Sunday, December 4, 2011 11:58 PM
  • @carlosfmur

    Well, I´m too glad with SB and I´ll tried to develop anything or to download any pgm that secondary students would be use.

    Anywhere, in this vacations I´ll begin to study Visual Basic.

     Why not C++ or C# ?.

     Well, because that an old Basic programmer as me, VB may be more easy. Don´t you think so ?

    Thanks and regards


    Carlos Fernández Muriano
    Monday, December 5, 2011 2:42 AM
  • Allen Shmallan,

    I think whether or not Smallbasic teaches certain programming concepts like variable scoping is irrelevant to a beginner programmer. That is not what Smallbasic is all about, variable scoping can easily be learnt by reading a book, Smallbasic aims at teaching something that can't be learnt by reading a book and that is problem solving with minimal standard library of keywords. Therefore the programmer doesn't have to worry about variable scoping and can concentrate on there actual design and implementation of the program.

    Also learning variable scoping with not make your graduation to another language such as C#, VB or C++ any smoother as there are a lot more concepts you will have to learn aswell, Object Orientated Programming (OOP).

    Kirk.

    Monday, December 5, 2011 7:44 AM
  • @ Kirkkaf

    My point had nothing to do with variable scope. My point was that you don't need to try to include command and syntax from other possible languages that someone might learn because a beginning language should teach concepts, such as how to approach and solve problems, instead. Variable scope was just an example that I used to show the difference between the concept and having to learn the specific commands or syntax of a different language.

    I like the limited nature of Small Basic because it's making it much easier for me to learn steps that I didn't understand as well before.  I don't agree that syntax from another language needs to be a part of smallbasic because I'm learning the ideas behind those commands in a simplified format that will make it easier to understand why my next language implements it the way that it does.  I can already see that from the small amount of C++ I know.  I don't think the language should be unnecessarily expanded because that would defeat the purpose of having a language for beginners.  The reason I'm having an easier time trying out some new things with sb is because there isn't as much *stuff* to wade through to figure out how to do what I want to do.


    Allen
    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 3:25 AM
  • So If you was to remove all the functions from SmallBasic you would be very limited to what you can actually do, if for example you only left the programming concepts, loops, control statments, sub routines ect.. You will only be able to solve maths problems and write text based applications.

    Your point on your previous post did have "something" to do with variable scoping as you used it as your example. I believe this had been left out of SB to save a lot of syntax errors that young programmers might come across and the confusion it may cause. (it is not something you should worry about when first learning about variables)

    If you want a language with bare minimum just to learn all the modern programming concepts then Lua is for you.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 11:37 AM
  • I think if you look at what I'm saying vs. what you say I'm saying you'll see the difference.

    An example is not a point.  It's an example.

    Functions are concepts.  A window that handles graphics vs a window that handles text is an important idea in smallbasic.  A very basic idea that has helped me immensely.

    I don't want to remove anything.  My one and only point has been that adding more and more to sb, whether functions or whatever, will clutter up a language which has its value, as a beginner's language, in its simplicity.  Any additions should be carefully examined with the idea of 'what will it help a student learn?', and not just expanding functionality.

    And that's all I have to say on that.


    Allen
    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 2:51 PM
  • I´ve got some words od Dick033 a time ago:

    Small Basic: it is a good concept and as such I believe it has a good future

    I´m sure about it.

    In those old times of Cobol/ Fortran/ and Basic to work with a simpe VSAM file was too hard.

    Then, we had used " concepts ". No databases, small memory (and expensive), few resources.

    I believe in these good future


    Carlos Fernández Muriano
    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 3:06 PM
  • Allen,

    I think I may have misunderstood you, but I am agreeing with you also. The simplicity of SmallBasic is appealing and I think what it has to offer is more than enough for the standard library of functionality. I think more extensions with extra functions is also a good idea for learning once graduated to another programming language.

    Kirk.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 6:33 PM
  • Dear Sir
    I'm an old user of those times of Fortran, Cobol and Basic. Just read / burn simply a VSAM file was laborious.
    I am now teaching ITC in a secondary school.
    This year I discovered Small Basic that excited me much and my students also.
    These young people use very well the utilities of MS Excel and Access, too. And them will be using in the future, I am sure.
    These products already occupy its place in the market. Small Basic not yet, I think.
    I participate in some forums and litdev has an idea to have links that allows from a Small Basic program take advantage of the other products.
    Graphicwindow functions leverage them to make drawings. But plot a mathematical function in Excel is very simple and is not so simple in Small Basic
    I have discovered a language teenagers can be easy and fun way. I thank you because I was extremely useful this year.
    Collaboration and generosity of people in the forums, too
    Carefully from Argentina

    carlosfmur
    Tuesday, December 20, 2011 10:20 PM
  • Hello Mike
    I teach ICT to young people from 16 to 17 years in the secondary.
    We require MS Office tools because they will probably use when they graduate and follow different careers. It is also in the official curriculum in the Argentina Republic.
    So have fun a little, we teach Flash, Photoshop, Moviemaker, etc.
    But we have fierce competitors. Girls can spend hours with Facebook and Twitter and the guys with video games (especially if they are violent and with much blood).
    I had to block them from the server to counter-strike, because they have a true addiction to this game. But what do not allow they in school do so in their homes or in the cybercafe, unfortunately.
    There is great concern among parents, psychologists, and teachers about the adverse effects that may have these games.
    I failed to achieve its enthusiasm in build their own games with Macromedia / Adobe Flash. They were not integrated with Action Script. It was difficult for them.
    With Small Basic I had better results but I need much to be done.
    Reason to write an own program will develop their powers rather than shoot a virtual machine, and see dead friends (on-screen) who are also playing in the opposing team.
    If we can spread among secondary schools, there is a tool created to enable young people to develop and have fun, will be a great future for Small Basic and also a good social work.
    That is my concern.
    I also believe that for Microsoft, future develop a critical mass of young people who are familiar with his computational environment, it may be interesting.
    Without more so greet atentamentey and wish you a good 2012.

    carlosfmur - Buenos Aires
    Friday, December 30, 2011 3:02 PM
  • Small Basic in Argentina

    Hello Mike
    I had the privilege of discovering Small Basic at casual manner, looking for a programming language suitable for secondary school students.
    I went to SB and not vice versa.
    I am associated with the local MUG (Microsoft Users Group) and it is never mentioned.
    I believe that only in my school what it is used and only because I took.
    The school only interested students to learn MS Office, which is what the parents of the students are waiting.
    So the work is very isolated but I have the help of the excellent forum for Small Basic, clarifying me all my doubts.
    I am very grateful to the Small Basic Forum.
    Is it possible to disseminate this tool in my country?
    If a young man of 17 years is excited with Small Basic already is one step away to the development environment .NET. It is an excellent gateway.
    There may be a group of working here, but I do not know.
    This is a simple concern that I wanted to convey.
    I salute you very sincerely,

     


    carlosfmur - Buenos Aires
    Friday, January 27, 2012 3:27 PM
  • Thank you for your response.  I like the suggestion of a monthly newsletter from Microsoft.  Did you respond to that request?  Would it be possible/useful to establish a "Future of Quickbasic" that we could use to keep current?  I am passionate about providing youth with a tool for learning programming and writing code.\

    Jerry

    Sunday, April 1, 2012 7:21 PM
  • I think that updates to the SB Visual Basic converter would be helpful. However, there is not much else to change. After all, it is Small Basic. The fact is that it is intended to be small and "get your feet wet" so you can move on to more advanced languages. I love Small Basic and think it is a wonderful tool for beginning programming. It has helped me so much, but after a while, adding more features to it seems pointless as you might as well just be using Visual Studio =). Anyways, just my $0.02

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012 1:17 AM
    Answerer
  •   Vijaye Raji left Microsoft many time ago. May he´s working in another projects.


    carlosfmur - Buenos Aires

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012 2:06 AM
  • Hi everybody,

    Following a recent request I did receive about Small Basic, I wondered if it could be possible to ask Microsoft to open the sources of Small Basic in a Codeplex project (partially or fully), in order to allow this community to fix the known issues and (in case of consensus) move the language forward by adding new features.

    Also, reaching Microsoft out will put the Small Basic subject on the table so, even if it's not possible for MS to open the sources, maybe it'll have positive consequences for Small Basic.

    After some redirects, it seems I've managed to reach the team which is currently "responsible" of Small Basic. Here's the response I got from his leader:

    Hi Francois,

    Let me research this with the team to see what is possible here. May take me a few weeks to get back to you.

    Thanks,
    Jenp

    I'll keep you informed of any future reponse I'll get from her, but if Small Basic get opensourced, I'm ready to take some of my time to fix issues, and I'm sure litdev is ready to do the same.

    François


    Fremy - Developer in VB.NET, C# and JScript ... - Feel free to try my extension

    Saturday, April 14, 2012 9:10 PM
  • BTW, I forgot to mention that Vijaye Raji, which I contacted first, is fully open to that possibility and is ready to provide some guidance about Small Basic code in case we need it (may be useful if they're some weird tricks in the code).

    Fremy - Developer in VB.NET, C# and JScript ... - Feel free to try my extension

    Saturday, April 14, 2012 9:14 PM
  • Some bug fixes are clearly long over-due and I welcome François contacting MS to force the issue a little.

    I am very happy to help fix bugs and help extend where it makes sense (like a debugger that is partially developed already, but not enabled).

    My only concerns with open source are:

    1] many different versions may start to proliferate and become confusing.

    2] the basic principals of simplicity may be diluted with additional features.  Currently, only allowing community enhancements through extensions isolates them nicely from the core program, and provides an incentive for budding programmers to start writing extensions in VB or C#.

    I hope the community, especially teachers etc using SmallBasic express their opinions here on how they would like things to progress.

    Saturday, April 14, 2012 10:27 PM
    Moderator
  • I understand your concerns however I don't think it would be much of an issue. Indeed, Small Basic will remain under the hand of goal keepers like you which will not allow things to evolve in a bad direction. I think that for a new feature to be introduced, we'll require concensus among a group of people that will ensure the language keep its goal clear: kickstarting new developers and introducing programmation to children. That doesn't mean the language can face changes, but those changes should align with that philosophy.

    Also, keep in mind that to modify a programming language, you need fine understanding of the .NET framework and of compilers, which most beginers don't have.

    Last but not least, Small Basic will probably not become completely opensource, with parts leaving under Microsoft control like name, logo, and so on. So, there will be only one Small Basic, and if they are forks, they'll need to choose another name. I don't mind forks so much.

    BTW, while the intent of Small Basic was to be simple (and I think we all agree it should keep its simplicity), some decisions that have been made by Vijyae (which initially attempted to reduce complexity) proved to add more complexity instead. The impossibility to pass arguments to Sub functions is one of them. Also, the known problem of global variables + threading is another design issue that we shall need to solve. I believe that making the language two-threaded at most is a first possible (and relatively easy) fix, but the current model in which each event has potentially its own thread is too complex for a language relying mainly on global variables, with no "synchronous lock" available.


    FremyCompany - Microsoft Student Partner

    Sunday, April 15, 2012 12:36 PM
  • You have clearly thought this through carefully and I agree with you on your points.  We'll see how things develop.
    Sunday, April 15, 2012 3:19 PM
    Moderator
  •  

    Hello Dick
    I´m asking if the Future of Small Basic:... is not determined by the future of Visual Basic ?
    I am assisting a course (theoretical) on Object Oriented Technology
    There are mentioned languages ​​like Java and C #, C + +, Visual Basic.NET and others.
    I understand that .NET platform is basically C #.
    My expectation is take advantages of
    Small Basic simplicity with VB´s function graduate
    But now I have doubts to attend courses in C # instead of  VB.NET
    For adolescent students, undoubtedly Small Basic, today.
    But for myself as a beginner: VB.NET or C #?
    That is my question.

    Many thanks


    carlosfmur - Buenos Aires

    Friday, May 11, 2012 4:47 PM
  • C# and VB are basically the same, both run on .Net.  The only real difference is the syntax.  Learning one, it is easy to move to the other.  Given no other reason I would choose C# since its syntax is closer to other common C type languages, C++ or Java.
    Friday, May 11, 2012 5:38 PM
    Moderator
  •   Many thanks litdev, many thanks


    carlosfmur - Buenos Aires

    Friday, May 11, 2012 6:16 PM
  • C# and VB are basically the same, both run on .Net.  The only real difference is the syntax.  Learning one, it is easy to move to the other.  Given no other reason I would choose C# since its syntax is closer to other common C type languages, C++ or Java.
    I found it very easy to transition from C# to CLI/C++.
    It is nice to have the BCL behind you, but also have C++ stuff. I only have to get used to the new operators in it (::, ->, ^, etc).
    Friday, May 11, 2012 10:01 PM
  • What a surprise

    I Joined the Microsoft Beginner Developer Learning Center site -" My learning path" and see all the Windows languages ​​to start programming but Small Basic does not appear.

    I follow the link Kid's Corner and this start with C # and Visual Basic for children. No mention of Small Basic

    I ask myself: what role does the language Small Basic in introduction / training / beginners for Microsoft.

    Nobody knows SB in Argentina (and this is free).

    I would not work in isolation from the community. I live here and teach here. I  need tools to use here.

    Thank you very much and greetings


    carlosfmur - Buenos Aires

    Saturday, July 14, 2012 9:56 AM
  • The top most entry on the Fun Links page is for SmallBasic and the default Beginner Developer Learning Center page has SmallBasic at the top, so it isn't really ignored.
    Saturday, July 14, 2012 3:01 PM
    Moderator
  • Hello litdev

    You are right in "The Beginner Developer Learning Center http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/beginner/default.aspx "

    But not so with:

    "Beginner Developer Learning Center http://msdn.microsoft.com/es-ar/beginner/default.aspx "

    And

     "My path of learning"

     http://msdn.microsoft.com/es-ar/beginner/bb308760.aspx "

     and

     "Kid's Corner

     http://msdn.microsoft.com/es-ar/beginner/bb308754.aspx "

     For my taste they should follow the same criteria. Be homogeneous in what they recommend.

    For kids:  Small Basic or C#/V Basic ?.  This is not prolix.

     I love Small Basic to teach.  and my students understand it, easily. But I'd like to see SB more known in these latitudes.

     I wish the best future to Small Basic, and I will continue working with this product

    Regards


    carlosfmur - Buenos Aires

    Saturday, July 14, 2012 9:22 PM