BASIC Alternative

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#1 zedth2  Icon User is offline

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BASIC Alternative

Posted 10 March 2013 - 07:39 PM

Hi everyone,
I normally run Linux and do dual a boot with Windows 7 for playing a few games. When I originally first started programming I was using VB.NET. Every once in a while I get an itch to play around in a BASIC type language. I do kind of miss the language and it's always good to play in a different language every once in a while. Right now I do most all my coding in Python 3. I've been looking for a VB.NET alternative but something closer to the original BASIC to see where a lot of this started. I know monoDevelop always me to play with it but I'd rather go further away from the Microsoft versions of the language and get closer to the original. Has anyone played with Gambas at all? It looks decent and fairly small. Does anyone know of any other good IDE and/or compilers for these. I've heard of FreeBASIC but haven't looked into it yet. Any knowledge shared would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks everybody.

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Replies To: BASIC Alternative

#2 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 10 March 2013 - 08:08 PM

Moving to software dev.

I would start with 'why?'. Why would you head back towards basic and fore go well defined and fleshed out namespaces? It would be like reinventing the wheel all over.
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#3 zedth2  Icon User is offline

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 10 March 2013 - 08:13 PM

Just to get to know the history better, eventually I'd like to build a language and in order to understand where we are and where we are going to need to figure out where we've been. Beyond that, just because.
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#4 Skydiver  Icon User is online

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 11 March 2013 - 08:37 AM

If you want to know where we've been, FORTRAN, COBOL and LISP, rather than BASIC would probably serve you better. Although lots of us cut our teeth on BASIC, the software that was used to run businesses and scientific endeavors would have been those 3 languages in the early days, in my opinion. If you are in the medical field, MUMPS is an an old language that is still being used by the top electronic medical records companies. I was surprised to learn that it powers Ameritrade, as well.
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#5 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 11 March 2013 - 09:05 AM

I agree with these guys. BASIC was never a development language, it was invented to get people programming. It's interesting, of course, in that it was one of the first high-level languages (part of the design goal was to insulate the programmer from the machine) but I don't think it was ever used to make anything interesting.

That being said, if you want to really play around with BASIC the best thing to do (IMO) would be to implement it. If you go back to the original Dartmouth standard, it shouldn't be too terribly difficult, and you'd really have an appreciation for the language by the time you were done.
Looks like the 1964 manual is available: www.cs.bris.ac.uk/~dave/basic.pdf
That should serve you as a spec.

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If you are in the medical field, MUMPS is an an old language that is still being used by the top electronic medical records companies. I was surprised to learn that it powers Ameritrade, as well.


MUMPS is still going - it's the kudzu of medical database work. I have a friend who works for a company that does a lot of MUMPS - they're trying to get rid of it, but it's proving very firmly entrenched.
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#6 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 11 March 2013 - 09:29 AM

View Postzedth2, on 10 March 2013 - 10:13 PM, said:

eventually I'd like to build a language


Right, because what we need is more "I just wanted to build a language" languages.
Well, you probably won't grow out of this without doing some hard work, so I'd suggest you run through Dan Grossman's Programming Languages course on coursera. It's an awful course (lectures are terrible, assignments are poorly specified, and the course depends to a great deal on ML, which is an atrocious language and with an abundant deficiency of decomentation and resources) but it will expose you to some concepts that you'll need to be thinking about.

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Beyond that, just because.


This is always a respectable reason.
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#7 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 11 March 2013 - 09:29 AM

View Postzedth2, on 10 March 2013 - 09:39 PM, said:

... I originally first started programming I was using VB.NET. Every once in a while I get an itch to play around in a BASIC type language.


Right off, VB.NET ain't nothing like BASIC. Not even close. It really only has "basic" in the name. Actually, it's not even that close to VB6, except in the most shallow use of syntax. VB descends for QuickBASIC, which itself is are rather radical departure from BASIC.

BASIC was the heart and soul of some of the very first "personal" computers. Notably, ancient beasts like Apple, Commodore, and Atari. While the language for beginners ( that's what the B stands for ) in the dark days before the internet, and even modems, it shares more in common with assembly language than anything else.

Production software was written in BASIC. Though the code was often merely glue for assembly style routines, loading values into registers. PEEK, POKE, and other arcanum gave power to that BASIC. And, sadly, that BASIC is dead. You will find nothing quite like it in modern times. Some would say, that's for the best.
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#8 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 11 March 2013 - 09:34 AM

PEEK and POKE are actually very late additions to BASIC. They were never in the language that Kemeny and whatsisname designed at Dartmouth, and they objected to those extensions of the language.

Dartmouth BASIC was as far from assembly language as Lisp, really. By the time it was implemented on personal computers, of course, it had changed a lot and was a low-level language which could address memory directly.

EDIT: Kurtz. Thank you, Wikipedia.

This post has been edited by jon.kiparsky: 11 March 2013 - 09:36 AM

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#9 sepp2k  Icon User is offline

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 11 March 2013 - 09:47 AM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 11 March 2013 - 05:29 PM, said:

Right, because what we need is more "I just wanted to build a language" languages.


Why should that matter? It's not like he's asking anyone to use the hypothetical language that he might one day build. As long as he has fun coding it, why would it matter whether anyone needs it?

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ML, which is an atrocious language


Hey, that's uncalled for. ML is a perfectly decent language (or rather family of languages).
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#10 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 11 March 2013 - 09:57 AM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 11 March 2013 - 11:34 AM, said:

PEEK and POKE are actually very late additions to BASIC.


I'm talking about the age of "microcomputers" which starts in the 70s. The Apple ][, TRS-80, Atari, and C-64, the guys who got the ball rolling, all supported PEEK and POKE.

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 11 March 2013 - 11:34 AM, said:

BASIC was as far from assembly language as Lisp


The depends on how you analyze a language. Both languages have limited flow control ( JMP or GOTO ) and essentially rudimentary syntax at the application layer. With ASM, you get to call machine level routines and access memory directly. With BASIC and PEEK and POKE, same.

View Postsepp2k, on 11 March 2013 - 11:47 AM, said:

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ML, which is an atrocious language


Hey, that's uncalled for. ML is a perfectly decent language (or rather family of languages).


I, um, now have to give Jon a +1 for ML bashing...
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#11 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 11 March 2013 - 10:09 AM

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Why should that matter? It's not like he's asking anyone to use the hypothetical language that he might one day build. As long as he has fun coding it, why would it matter whether anyone needs it?


Languages are dangerous: people sometimes use them, and then you're stuck with them. Look at PHP, for example. Or even MUMPS - someone made a language to track data at one hospital, and bunged it up royally and forty years later it's still screwing up patient data.

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ML is a perfectly decent language (or rather family of languages).


I'm sure it's a lovely language, though, once you get to know it. Great personality.
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#12 sepp2k  Icon User is offline

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 11 March 2013 - 10:14 AM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 11 March 2013 - 06:09 PM, said:

Languages are dangerous: people sometimes use them, and then you're stuck with them. Look at PHP, for example.


Except that PHP was written because there was a need - not just for fun.

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Quote

ML is a perfectly decent language (or rather family of languages).


I'm sure it's a lovely language, though, once you get to know it. Great personality.


:P

This post has been edited by sepp2k: 11 March 2013 - 10:14 AM

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#13 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 11 March 2013 - 10:21 AM

View Postbaavgai, on 11 March 2013 - 11:57 AM, said:

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 11 March 2013 - 11:34 AM, said:

PEEK and POKE are actually very late additions to BASIC.


I'm talking about the age of "microcomputers" which starts in the 70s. The Apple ][, TRS-80, Atari, and C-64, the guys who got the ball rolling, all supported PEEK and POKE.


Right - K&K basically disowned all of that, none of it was any part of what they were trying to do when they made the language in '64.

So really it's just a question of which BASIC you're talking about. The original was what I'd call a high level language, in that it isolated the user from the machine level. (I'll have to read through that PDF above to be sure, but as I recall the only memory access is through variable declarations)

Once it started to be ported to other machines, people started adding features, and it became a "family" - same thing happened with lisp, and for the same reasons. Those features usually included ways to POKE and PEEK at the memory, so it dragged the language back down into low-level territory. We could call that the middle period, if you like.

As for the late period, I don't know anything about Visual Basic, so I can't say where that stands.


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I, um, now have to give Jon a +1 for ML bashing...


There's plenty more where that came from, but I'll leave it for now. :)
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#14 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 11 March 2013 - 10:28 AM

Personally - it's QBASIC or nothing.
http://www.petesqbsite.com/
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#15 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: BASIC Alternative

Posted 11 March 2013 - 11:25 AM

To OP's original question.

First I'll say there is actually still in use systems that use BASIC (and not the Microsoft Variant). For example the database system's we use for our software requires its programs to be written in a variant of BASIC. Though because the database system which originally ran on its own dedicated hardware is now set up as a virtual machine, it now has interop code with C libraries on the host machine that can be called directly in the BASIC programs or from the command prompt in the vm.



Also if you want a place to write BASIC. May I suggest a C64 emulator. Commodore was probably most of ours first introduction to BASIC, and it's actually pretty fun to work with. Also you can actually quickly and easily create projects with fun visual results (like videogames) with it.

They actually released a remake of the commodore 64 machine as an x86 architecture that looks like the old C64, and comes with a C64 emulator on it so you can do it on a machine just like the original.

http://www.commodore...t/CUSA_C64.aspx

Of course, that isn't necessary. You can just download the emulator from all over the internet.
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