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Microsoft Small Basic is an ideal programming language and environment for small people and beginners

By 'small' I obviously mean children, and not the supporting cast of Gulliver. Anyway, Microsoft Small Basic is here, ladies and gentlemen -- and with it, you now have the perfect teaching aid for beginners and children alike! Small Basic is so awesome that I'm actually struggling to find the right words, but I'll try...

First, you have a simple and undaunting developer environment. You get a code window and a ribbon interface: that's it. But, believe it or not, you get full IntelliSense! Start typing and that lovely easy-to-use IntelliSense window pops up, prompting you with classes, methods and variables. If only I'd had IntelliSense when I was programming my ZX Spectrum!

There's access to a bunch of programmer libraries too, like Flickr (yes, you can access Flickr in Small Basic) or Turtle (yes, you can relive your teenage years by moving a turtle around your screen using Logo!).

Next up, there's a fantastic guide that walks you through a bunch of basic BASIC features, and also a few more complicated concepts like arrays and subroutines. The guide looks like it's aimed at teens, though I'm sure a younger child could follow it with the help of an adult. Then, when you're done with everything Small Basic has to offer (and it has a lot!), there's a 'graduate' button that you can hit -- which imports your Small Basic project into Visual Basic. Neat!

Finally, and this bit floored me, there's an 'export' function. Click it, and your program is uploaded to smallbasic.com -- check it out. That's my Small Basic program... running in Silverlight. Notice how you can embed it on any website too. Small Basic is just gagging to be the centerpiece of some kind of 'young programmers' community! Maybe that's what Microsoft has planned -- for the time being, they just have a little info about Small Basic... but time will tell!

It's really fantastic to see recent developments in programming environments turned into educational tools. Well done, Microsoft!
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Tags: basic, children, developer, educational, ide, microsoft, programming, small basic, SmallBasic, visual basic, VisualBasic, young

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