We recently learned about this great project to bring a simple BASIC interpreter to the Pi to help beginners programming from Liz over at RaspberryPi.org.
A large number of engineering professionals are using the Raspberry Pi to explain to their kids what it is they do at work. When we’ve met these families, the enthusiasm positively dripping off everybody has been extraordinary. But we’ve also had a really surprising number of emails from parents who haven’t done any programming since school, but who still have books on BASIC from when they were kids, remember enjoying computing lessons, and want to share some of what they used to do with their kids. It’s actually a great way to get kids started, especially if you have some enthusiasm of your own to share: enthusiasm’s contagious.
The good news for those people, and for anyone else who wants to learn BASIC from scratch or revisit an old friend, is that TinyBASIC is now available for the Raspberry Pi. Andrew Lack has ported this very lightweight editor, interpreter and graphics package to the Pi, and we think it’s great.
TinyBASIC One is a simple BASIC interpreter which has been created to get beginners programming on the Raspberry Pi as quickly as possible.
One of its unique features is the provision of flavours which allows the beginner to taste programming
with vanilla which has the
simple—but unsatisfactory—GOTO statement, then make the
switch to sweeter raspberry and learn the joys of
structured programming where GOTO is banned!
TinyBASIC One includes:
an editor to create, save, load and run programs
the BASIC interpreter
support for drawing simple graphic shapes
The project gets its inspiration from Li-Cheng Wang’s Palo Alto Tiny Basic
which originally occupied an amazing 1.77kB of memory!
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Structured programmers can ban the ‘goto’ statement when they can pull my keyboard out of my cold, dead hands. And then they can flail hopelessly when they’re assigned projects on memory-restricted microcontrollers.
I think there are a lot of people who haven’t programmed since BASIC in high school so distributing the Raspberry Pi with BASIC would get more people interested than having them learn Linux and start all over.
I think it would be valuable to take a poll.
I have to agree w/KA1OS about this, though modern compilers can be pretty good about optimizing “structured” constructs into decent machine code.
I do worry, though, that by calling the GOTO statement “unsatisfactory”, we risk new programmers not learning that there can be more than one way to solve a problem, and that the supposed “best” way to do things might not be the best in all circumstances.