Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Why Can't We Put a BASIC On the Phone?

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the that's-make-it-too-easy dept.

Google 783

theodp writes "In the Sixties, we could put a man on the moon. Nowadays, laments jocastette, America's tech giants can't even put a BASIC on the phone. Woz managed to crank out a BASIC interpreter for the 6502 in the '70s. As did Bill Gates and Paul Allen. So, why — at a time when development has never been easier — can't Google, Apple, and Microsoft manage to support a free BASIC or other programming-for-the-masses development environment on desktops, laptops, tablets and phones?" My limited experience with Android development showed using Java to be obtuse and downright obnoxious to do anything (at least without Eclipse, and even with it doing anything non-standard required digging through horrendous ant buildfiles). And, of course, without a REPL things were even more obnoxious. There is the android-scripting project, but it doesn't provide particularly exhaustive access to the platform.

cancel ×

783 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

What's this "We" business? (3, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498022)

If you want BASIC for your phone, make one.

exactly. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498218)

People bitch and moan for OTHERS to do something. Atlas Shrugged is becoming more true every day.

Why BASIC? What for? (5, Insightful)

impaledsunset (1337701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498230)

You can't get BASIC for your phone for the same reason you can't get a reasonable BASIC for your average GNU/Linux distro. It's just not that good and it only teaches you bad habits, and in the end - it's just not useful. It's not that good language for the masses as it is advertised, and you can't do much in it.

Why not Python? It's a very easy language in which you can write something significant with the least effort and it has a very steep learning curve. It's easy, it's powerful, and if you ever plan to become a real programmer - it teaches you good programming habits.

That said, I've added CHDK to my Canon camera, and it allows you to extend it with UBASIC scripts. It's one case where a BASIC variant is actually useful, because it's rather easy to implement, and it's used mainly for tasks that are quite suitable for it in their extreme simplicity. Can you give an example - what do you like to script in BASIC on your phone? Maybe you can support BASIC in your app in a way similar to CHDK!

Re:Why BASIC? What for? (3, Interesting)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498244)

Funnily, Microsoft is the only one providing stuff like TouchDevelop [microsoft.com] for their phones. It even says on their page "bringing the excitement of the first programmable personal computers to the phone", so it's particularly well suited for what this whole story is about. It's better than Python too, as it's specifically targeted at touch phones (and Python is horrible with its indents for code blocks like if and for - seriously?). Yet Slashdot crowd likes to discredit MS everywhere they can and hope that Windows Phone 7 never catches on, while MS is the only one providing what the same crowd wants on phones.

Re:Why BASIC? What for? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498334)

Touch develop is a cut down limited pile of shit. The scripting layer for android [google.com] walks all over it. Furthermore, if you don't like python, you can use perl, beanshell, PHP, ruby, shell script, JavaScript and more. Much more of the android API is exposed through the sl4a than with touchdevelop. As far as slash dot giving Ms credit, you're a slash dot poster and you're giving them credit. Disingenuous credit but credit nonetheless so stop bitching.

Re:Why BASIC? What for? (2, Interesting)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498404)

That's the whole point of BASIC and TouchDevelop. You don't have to know about the APIs, libraries, and how to load all that stuff together so that you would actually get something done. The whole purpose is to be easy to use and something that can be used to quickly throw something together, without worrying about the details. This approach does come with limitations, but it doesn't matter.

Re:Why BASIC? What for? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498472)

No the fuck it is not the whole point of Basic. There are many dialects of basic of which you can develop anything you want. Using something like touchdevelop where you have no real access to anything doesn't teach kids shit. At least with the android scripting layer, you have access to many of the underlying api's and actual real apps can be written and distributed in the market. Fyi, what you think is not what everybody else thinks. If you think basic has a "point" that people should just adhere to then you are fucking clueless.

Re:Why BASIC? What for? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498488)

Oh, hello there next iteration [slashdot.org] of pro-MS/anti-Google shill. Your predecessor [slashdot.org] was off to a better start, couldn't you wait a bit for your alts to gather more mod points?

Re:Why BASIC? What for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498398)

Last time I checked, you could do pretty much anything in any language. I still keep a copy of pre .net vb around for quick scripting-type applications. Python's use of whitespace to define blocks seems about as fun as programming in RPG

Re:Why BASIC? What for? (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498444)

"You can't get BASIC for your phone for the same reason you can't get a reasonable BASIC for your average GNU/Linux distro. It's just not that good and it only teaches you bad habits, and in the end - it's just not useful. It's not that good language for the masses as it is advertised, and you can't do much in it."

This is the exact same mantra the computer geeks had about Microsoft BASIC when it came out for the altair. they were wrong then and you are wrong now.

Microsoft got RICH off of that useless language, and it was pirated like crazy. BASIC is very useful for the average joe as they can do simple things with it. It's why Office scripting is done with BASIC and not C#

That said, the reason we don't have a nice "visual basic" for phones is because Apple and Google does not WANT that on the platform. They do not want people writing their own apps easily. It's not profitable to allow everyone to write their own custom apps.

Indeed, Microsoft has done exactly this (4, Informative)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498316)

It's available here [microsoft.com] . Of course, it's only for Windows Phone, and it's a compiled language instead of an interpreted one. I'm pretty sure that Mono is trying the same thing.

For that matter (5, Informative)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498360)

There's also BASIC for Android [basic4ppc.com] . I can't imagine that it's that much better than other kinds of Android development (Android development is a bit of a PITA with lots of different aspects), but it's there.

Re:Indeed, Microsoft has done exactly this (1)

elabs (2539572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498362)

Yeah, the free tools are very polished. It's got a great WYSIWYG editor that lets beginners drag and drop control onto their apps. The langauge is every easy and intuitive but has tons of powerfu features, like LINQ. WP7 is definitely the most friendly OS to develop for if you are beginner.

Re:Indeed, Microsoft has done exactly this (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498392)

Can you point me to any particularly great apps that have been developed by one of these beginners and sold well?

Re:Indeed, Microsoft has done exactly this (1)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498452)

Can you point me to any particularly great apps that have been developed by one of these beginners and sold well?

You're completely missing the point of this story and having a simple BASIC interpreter or TouchDevelop on phone.

Nope (1)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498482)

Then again, how would I know? They wouldn't exactly advertise it, because the customer isn't going to care. In any case, I don't see how it's relevant. The question is whether a BASIC exists for smart phones. There's at least two.

Sales are not the point (1)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498484)

The point isn't to great a killer app that sells. The point is that almost every user has the need that isn't met by an existing app.

Sometimes, what the want the phone is out of reach without considerable programming skills.

Most of the time, though, some simple scripts or macros would make the phone do what they want.

I'm not a programmer by trade, but I've taught myself some basic scripting (BASIC, .bat & .cmd) because it makes my primary job easier.

I'm not going to make killer-app.bat that sells tons, but I have a few I've kept for a few years because they suit me perfectly since I could make them to my specs. THAT is what is missing from phones right now.

BASIC is an awful language (2, Insightful)

hpa (7948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498046)

It's easy to throw together a BASIC interpreter. However, in this day and age, why would you want one?

Re:BASIC is an awful language (-1, Troll)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498060)

It lets retards do things. You know, the 80-120 segment. It's enabling. The things they do don't have to be innovative or exciting.

Re:BASIC is an awful language (5, Insightful)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498166)

Yes, thanks for calling almost any programmer who started with BASIC a retard. When I was 7 years old I obviously should had went with ASM instead of something that was easily understandable and gave instant results, and hence motivated me to keep programming all the way to the current day.

Re:BASIC is an awful language (0, Flamebait)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498202)

I also miss being a kid, but for some strange reason I don't feel the need put a diaper on and run around shitting myself.

Re:BASIC is an awful language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498506)

And clearly, every single thing anybody does in the world is for you, personally.

Re:BASIC is an awful language (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498268)

Indeed, BASIC was a nice easy language that got me into programming. At least for educational reasons, it could be useful on a phone.

Re:BASIC is an awful language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498286)

10 CLS
20 PRINT "I'M A RETRAD"
30 GOTO 10

run

Re:BASIC is an awful language (2)

anomaly256 (1243020) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498500)

I also started out on BASIC. But luckily a friend's uni professor father got me stuck into Pascal and Assembler in year 5 before too much damage was done. I do recall it being hard at the time to get my head around subroutines instead of gotos after BASIC pollution. Despite starting on BASIC, I have to agree that it's a bad choice for beginners, teaches the wrong things, and needs to be left as a footnote in history. There are much better designed modern languages that are just as easy to learn without encouraging bad habits.

Re:BASIC is an awful language (1)

n5vb (587569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498308)

It does rather enable bad habits. It's possible to do reasonably good programming in it, but it involves knowing things one doesn't find out just by playing around with the language itself. (And it doesn't have a stack, or variable scoping, or any number of other handy things. And even C does for() better..)

Re:BASIC is an awful language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498492)

Do you know who ranks between 80-120?
Approximately 95% of the population have scores within two SDs of the mean, i.e., an IQ between 70 and 130.-Wikipedia
While I'm above that, I'd say having something for 95% of the population is useful.

Re:BASIC is an awful language (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498138)

BASIC is an awful language

You obviously never used BBC BASIC [wikipedia.org] , which had procedures, functions, repeat until, do while, case, local variables, recursion, inline assembler... Hey, it still exists [bbcbasic.co.uk] .

Re:BASIC is an awful language (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498494)

Do you understand that BASIC was just an example (because it was ubiquitous back in the day)?

BASIC is a horrible language. (1)

mhh91 (1784516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498054)

Hobbyist programmers don't write BASIC code these days, the question you should be asking is "why can't we put python/ruby on the phone?".

Re:BASIC is a horrible language. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498112)

Then why do they make the BasicStamp processor which has been used for a long time in hobby control processing?

Re:BASIC is a horrible language. (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498128)

I had a few friends play with BASIC stamps. Though it runs PBASIC.

I didn't follow it very much, but it still would indicate there are a few instance of hobbyists using basic.

Re:BASIC is a horrible language. (3, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498136)

Dunno about iOS (my iphone 4 is collecting dust somewhere upstairs), but there's at least ruby, perl, lua, python and several scheme dialects available for the android.

Re:BASIC is a horrible language. (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498278)

There are Python implementations for like every phone.

Re:BASIC is a horrible language. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498310)

Because tying syntax to whitespace is anti-accessibility to the point of immorality.

The best programming environment comprises a uniform underlying semantic with configurable syntactic sugar selectable at the Editor level. See also .NET or Mathematica or the VMS inter-module ABI.

Re:BASIC is a horrible language. (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498424)

you spelled java wrong (:

Re:BASIC is a horrible language. (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498356)

why can't we put python/ruby on the phone?

Because... we can.

It's called javascript. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498056)

Filter error: You can type more than that for your comment.

Autohotkey (1)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498058)

Screw BASIC, someone port Autohotkey to mobile platforms!

Re:Autohotkey (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498354)

Hell no. And this is a person who uses it extensively.
AHK language is terrible, inconsistent and just broken with respect to a "BASIC-like" language.
Not only that, it is built hacks upon hacks upon hacks from the original source by several contribs over the years.

It REALLY needs to be remade from scratch and forked as a whole different version. (AHK2)
Then you could add some sort of compatibility layer through the library system so you can just refer to older versions of them from a single new instance of an AHK2 file to save time.
So much of the command system is inconsistent, sometimes even confuses the hell out of me, especially some GUI stuff, such a pain.
An official flag section for certain commands should be used over layers of optional parameters after a command or different versions of a command, it looks so horrible seeing a bunch of empty flags and trying to keep track.
Something similar to the section for the GUI items where you define aspects of position and such, that way is really nice.
Some other things are just annoying, such as the different kinds of loops, that is just an absolute mess.

As long as it isn't handled by some pretentious douche who thinks certain commands are evil so must remove them to "save humanity", not mentioning any names, then all is fine.

I don't have a smartphone... (0)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498068)

But I have gotten the impression Apple keeps iOS locked down and that even with open-source Android carriers try and restrict how you can load apps. A BASIC interpreter would either be powerful enough to work around this restriction (and thus rejected from app stores) or useless enough that no-one would want to use it. Of course, a sandboxed-type BASIC (IE for making local-only games, for instance, and not allowed to use any phone functionality) or something could strike a balance between the two. It's not like the DOS versions of BASIC I used to play around with were very powerful (unless the POKE command counts).

Re:I don't have a smartphone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498104)

They allow scripting now. There are several Lua interpreters available for iOS.

Re:I don't have a smartphone... (1)

Jay L (74152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498118)

There already is a sandboxed BASIC on the iPhone. It's called C64.

Re:I don't have a smartphone... (1)

n5vb (587569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498342)

How much fun would it possibly be if it weren't possible to save programs?

And if you could save programs, then the interpreter would have access to filesystem I/O. Which, I'd bet, is unacceptably "powerful"..

Re:I don't have a smartphone... (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498430)

Nah, you can just sandbox the I/O and only give the app access to it's own little space. All phones must do this already. You gotta have it for high scores or saved games or whatever.

Re:I don't have a smartphone... (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498454)

There is a Basic for iOS, simply called Basic! [apple.com] It is not too bad, but as you anticipated it does not integrate any phone features nor does it allow you to use the standard user interface elements of normal apps.

I have done a few small apps using it.

No keyboard, no programming (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498070)

Programming isn't a matter of a few swooshes on a capacitive touchscreen. Also, who could muster enough attention between two instant messages?

Re:No keyboard, no programming (2)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498336)

There are many phones with a keyboard.

We do, it's called JavaScript. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498072)

We do, it's called JavaScript. With its shortcomings, it's still a better language than BASIC. There are BASIC interpreters written in JavaScript if you really want that.

They can, they don't want to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498074)

Obviously if we could do it then, we can do it now.

The big tech companies don't want to.

They don't want regular people writing little programs, they want people buying them. It's a consumption device.

Why would they want to? (1, Troll)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498080)

The purpose of these devices is to make people stop thinking of computers as computers, and as mere appliances that do for you only what their manufacturers want them to do.

Re:Why would they want to? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498208)

The purpose of these devices is to make people stop thinking of computers as computers, and as mere appliances that do for you only what their manufacturers want them to do.

While I agree that people are thinking of them more as appliances than computers, I believe your "do only what their manufacturers want them to do" comment is really only applicable to a tiny segment of the population - Slashdotters. For most end users, their iPhones, iPads, and Android devices do pretty much everything they want.

The only time I see or hear a "why can't I do zzzzz on an iPhone" comment is, frankly, here on Slashdot.

Codify for iPad (4, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498082)

We are starting to see some programming environments where you code on the device itself - one really cool one is Codify [blogspot.com] for the iPad. They have really thought through how to make entry of code easier using the on-screen keyboard, and you could learn quite a lot of programming concepts developing using this tool.

Smalltalk (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498086)

Ever since Smalltalk failed for actually trying to bring programmability to the masses, we have seen progressively less accessible development environments. BASIC was the last gasp in the '80s.

Today development of development environments has itself become a revenue stream, not least for lock-in potential, so we have a million twisty languages, all alike. The last thing anyone wants is a simple, easy-to-use solution.

BASIC Is dead, Long live BASIC. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498090)

Microsoft Research wrote an IDE for the Windows 7 Phone, called TouchDevelop. If we really wanted BASIC, we could do that too.

It IS available (1)

GlobalEcho (26240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498102)

The linked note from the story writes:

Getting a programming environment is indeed a barrier which I have experienced a number of times. This contrasts with schooldays when I could start writing a basic program simply by switching the computer on. Why don't Apple, Microsoft etc. package the stuff you need to get start programming with their OSes? (So one could begin learning with 5 mouse clicks or less.)

It is available for iOS, at least, as Python Math [sabonrai.com] . It's at least as good a getting-started environment as BASIC was on the old C64, Apple ][, or TRS-80. It seems probable Android has something similar.

Wrong question... (1)

novalis112 (1216168) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498110)

The question is "Why haven't *they* put BASIC on the phone?".

The answer, of course, is simple:
1. There isn't much demand for it.
2. It would open up their platform and their cell network to a barrage of crappy software.

There is one, but it's not free. (1)

Dar13 (2422902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498132)

It's called the App Game Kit [appgamekit.com] , made by The Game Creators. Has two 'tiers', one that's like BASIC and the other being a group of C++ libraries. Also supports more than just iOS or Android, also has support for Windows, MacOS, MeeGo, and Bada.

Re:There is one, but it's not free. (1)

Dar13 (2422902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498206)

Forgot that it's not really an interpreter, though it does have that functionality through its broadcast feature. Look on the site for how it works, I don't use it myself.

Doesn't fit the consumption model (1)

markjhood2003 (779923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498134)

The last thing content producers want is to have consumers creating their own content on mobile devices instead of passively viewing their ad-loaded streams.

Attention Old People (5, Funny)

realinvalidname (529939) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498144)

Today's BASIC is JavaScript. And it's already on all the mobile devices. Even evil control-freak Apple's stuff. Young people already know this and do not need your Commodore/Apple/Atari nostalgia trips.

Also, parachute pants are no longer a thing.

Please update your expectations and wardrobe appropriately.

Re:Attention Old People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498330)

Today's BASIC is JavaScript. And it's already on all the mobile devices. Even evil control-freak Apple's stuff. Young people already know this and do not need your Commodore/Apple/Atari nostalgia trips.

Also, parachute pants are no longer a thing.

Please update your expectations and wardrobe appropriately.

Hey MF, Don't lump all us old people into the clueless category. We invented all the shit that you lazy ass MF's think you know everything about.

Re:Attention Old People (1, Informative)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498374)

Excellent. So with JavaScript on a webpage, how do I access text messages on my phone?

Oh, you mean JavaScript in an app environment?

And you don't really mean pure JavaScript?

Gotcha.

Note that the story's question isn't so much about the particular programming language of choice, but about the capabilities; hence the pointing out that the Android Scripting project also has rather limited access to the platform - even if it's much better than javascript in a webpage.

Re:Attention Old People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498440)

Ever heard of Appcelerator Titanium? Check it out, it's a Javascript environment for developing applications for iOS and Android.

Re:Attention Old People (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498486)

Congratulations. You have found the one thing in the entire multiverse that sucks more than BASIC.

Please let us have something better.

Windows Phone 7 (1)

notknown86 (1190215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498148)

What do you think the "B" in "VB.net" stands for?

Re:Windows Phone 7 (4, Interesting)

elabs (2539572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498418)

Yeah, you can write apps for WP7 in VB.Net or C#. It's actually pretty amazing how simple and intuititve the free tools are. You can download them and have an app running in the emulator in just minutes. Adding controls is drag-n-drop from the WYSIWYG editor. The contorl libraries are impressive, especially when you consider the freely downbloadable WP7 "Toolkit". The main thing that is different than BASIC is the powerful langauge capabilities like OOP, LINQ, properties, threading, concurrent collections, generics, closures,events, delegates, a LINQ-to-SQL embedded database, easy encryption libraries and the list goes on and on.

TouchDevelop (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498150)

Microsoft Research has a TouchDevelop app for Windows Phone, maybe you can try it
https://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/touchdevelop/

because... (2)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498156)

...BASIC sucks.

And it doesn't do what you allege it does. There is no such thing as a "programming language for the general public" anymore than there are nuclear power station DIY kits.

conflicting religions (1, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498160)

Perhaps because any real programmer hates Basic. I would advocate for Forth, an easy to implement interpreter that produces very fast and very compact code, and can cleanly be tied to the hardware (not so easy in Basic unless you like lots of peeks and pokes). But, of course, there will be plenty of anti-Forth heretics that say it is a bad choice, so the complaints will likely go on. However, a quick Google search tells me that there already is an AndroidForth, so if you really want a powerful and useable programming language for Android I suggest finding out if this suits your needs.

Re:conflicting religions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498372)

If you want a Forth-like environment on iOS, search the app store for m48, an emulator of the HP48 calculator. HP48's scripting language RPL is rather like Forth, and you can get a surprising amount of stuff done with it. It was my first programming environment, in fact.

Having said that, I suspect Javascript can do more "interesting" stuff for most new programmers these days.

Java is programming for the masses! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498172)

numbnuts.

What does this person want? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498180)

Java is not terribly hard, and though it doesn't provide DEEP access to the hardware it more than suffices for easy development. The SL4A provides python and other languages, that also work with the abstracted machine.

BUT - how the fuck would BASIC be better than what is currently there? If he has a hardon for BASIC why not just make up a retarded version for SL4A?

Or maybe this was a troll article. Haha /. you got me again...

why not put BASIC on a phone? (3, Insightful)

hamburger lady (218108) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498184)

because it's a fucking phone. should i put BASIC in my car stereo too? how about my toaster oven! i cobbled together an assembler for my clock radio and i'm never lookin' back.

Re:why not put BASIC on a phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498420)

I have a very basic cellphone, so I understand what you are saying. I need a phone to talk to people, I don't need any other feature, I don't want music, games, Internet, etc. However, phones are becoming mobile computers. He would like to see BASIC, fine... I'd like to be able to connect a keyboard, a mouse and a screen on mine. It's just not happening for now. But wouldn't it be nice if companies would try to turn phones into real computers? You know, everyone carrying a phone is actually carrying their home computer, which just happen to be able to make phone call? Pip-boy anyone?

Re:why not put BASIC on a phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498518)

because it's a fucking phone....

Then maybe YOU should go get an eight-year-old flip-phone. Some services still offer them. If it's just "a fucking phone", there's no need for a 1.5GHz dual core processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB storage, or a 1000x600 pixel display.

WE, on the other hand, would prefer a small, handheld computer with which we can play videos/music/games, browse the internet, run a gillion apps, and also make phone calls. I've even written a few Python apps that I use for work and run on SL4A on a cheap-o Android tablet.

It Is Available (4, Informative)

Paul Slocum (598127) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498200)

I typed in "basic interpreter" into the app store and got several results. What are they talking about?

Re:It Is Available (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498450)

Don't confuse Slashdotters with fact. (I have Basic and Lua on my still-in-jail iPhone 4S)

Other Reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498220)

1. Security of the Device for the Manufacture, Distributor and Provider Liability from Bricking to Exploits.
2. You need 2x+ the storage and memory for the programming information and debugging.
3. Revenue stream for selling the Programming Tools.
4. Most users don't care any ways and just want it to work for them.

Haven't done for years (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498222)

Last time I recall MS putting BASIC on a PC was with Windows 3.11 and MS-DOS. It's not a GUI friendly programming language. It's also a terrible language.

I do however wish they would put a programming language on Windows for creating Windows apps (and other platforms). Trouble is MS makes money from selling languages - as do other providers - so there's no real incentive to give something away for free.

As for a simple language which can be used to do basic things - PERL is one solution. Love it or hate it, it's free, it's as easy to learn as BASIC was, and it has real world uses. Not sure about other platforms though

Re:Haven't done for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498312)

It's not a GUI friendly programming language.

well... there's Visual Basic. It's got a GUI.

Re:Haven't done for years (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498380)

But you have to pay for it. The beauty of the original BASIC on the platforms in question was that it was free. Anyone who had half a mind to learn how to code, could do it without having to pay a small fortune for it. If you then found you had a more serious need, or talent for it, you could go out and buy something more capable.

There's a 99 cent app for that! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498238)

On the iPhone or iPad, there is a BASIC programming environment (sandboxed). It's called BASIC!, and can be found here:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/basic!/id362411238?mt=8

Sounds like a not so smart programmer (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498242)

One thing is not liking a language ... for whatever reason, another is not having the skills to work on a pure object oriented language like Java.

The fact that the author is wanting to go back to such a poor, highly limited language as BASIC shows that he does not have what it takes to do real world programing.

Do you mean FOR phones or ON phones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498266)

If you include the former, see Monkey [monkeycoder.co.nz] for a games-oriented language as readable as BASIC but with the most important features of Javascript, C++, etc.

The core language and compiler tools/source code are in the public domain (just download the demo), while the main games toolkit costs money but targets HTML5, Flash, Android, Windows (OpenGL), iOS and XNA (for X360 and Windows Phone 7).

TouchDevelop ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498272)

maybe you can try this TouchDevelop app from Microsoft Research
https://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/touchdevelop/

I dont even want it on my Apple II (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498282)

I would much rather have pascal in rom than basic, why would I want it on my phone?

10 ? "Get with it man"
20 GOTO 10
RUN

there is already a basic for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498292)

Not free but cheap - GLBasic (google it)

Microsoft has TouchDevelop for WP7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498304)

Microsoft Research has TouchDevelop [touchdevelop.com] , an educational app that lets people write simple programs right on a WP7 phone. It's sandboxed to limit the potential for malicious use but still fairly capable.

The one thing I fault about it is that it's a new programming language; it would have been nicer if they'd been able to re-use an existing language such as BASIC or even PASCAL.

Money. (1)

trum4n (982031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498344)

If the thing ran BASIC or even C, then we wouldn't need quad core 25ghz phones. That would mean current hardware wouldn't suck. That would mean we wouldn't need a new phone the day we bought our current one. It's all about money. Java is a damn mess, so it keeps our 1ghz phones slow enough that we want faster.

What about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498352)

I believe these are the droids that you're looking for:
http://www.basic4ppc.com/

Makes developing simple apps very quick and compiles down to bytecode so no interpreter is necessary.

If it is so important to you I will code one up (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498388)

Give me a couple of weeks. Its no big deal, really.

Dijkstra Says... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498396)

It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that have had a prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration.

                      — Edsger W. Dijkstra, EWD 498

Like a Graphing Calculator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498406)

Basic is a lousy language but... over the years, as a working engineer, I have used BASIC to write lots of quick ugly programs on my graphing calculators. Most of them were ugly, slow, and crude, but it didn't matter because they solved some problem I was working on at the time. If I had basic on my phone, I might use it the same way.

programs for the masses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38498426)

It's because they don't want programming for the masses. Yesterday's leaders wanted to share their tech gifts with the world. Today, they want to provide the best consumer experience, and programming, especially in BASIC, is not a part of that experience.

Wrong question (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498442)

Rather obviously they can. They just don't want to.

So why don't they want to? There are all sorts of reasons, some more valid than others:

  • A standard compiler or interpreter on each machine is one more attack vector. Not enough users running your malware or using the wrong OS for it to work? Try sending them the source code and launching it in their crossplatform programming environment.
  • That programming environment runs the risk of supplanting the companies' distinguishing user environments (Finder, Explorer, the iUI, Metro, etc.) This is mostly a variation on their old nightmare of the web browser (or one of its plugins like Java or Flash) rendering the underlying OS interchangeable.
  • It would make the machine more intimidating to technophobes. Seriously, one of the selling points that made Windows and Mac OS popular (compared to DOS PCs and the Apple ][ line) was the pitch line that you didn't have to "program" it, you just pointed and clicked.
  • Poor ROI. Even if you don't scare people off with it, the vast majority of users really don't have the interest (or aptitude) to program their computers. That's why such a small percentage of students sign up for CS courses. Why spend money developing something that's just going to cost them even more money to support?
  • It's simply not necessary. Ye olde TRS-80, Apple ][, C64, and even IBM PC came with BASIC in ROM because without it, the machine was borderline useless. No longer true.
  • Producers make poor consumers. LPs/CDs/MP3s sell better than guitars/keyboards/mikes. Video players sell better than video cameras. Building a content delivery system is a major objective of any computer manufacturer, and a device whose users spend it creating rather than consuming (music, games, movies, adverts) is one that the professional content providers will view askance.

I'm not saying all of these are good arguments. But they're (some of) the reasons why your iPhone has no standard BASIC (or whatever) interpreter. I wish it were otherwise. But if wishes were horses, we'd all be riding LOGO-controlled ponies.

Is BASIC that relevant, really? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498462)

Sure, I learned BASIC just like millions of others back in the day. But I can't recall the last time I actually did something with it. There are plenty of great programming languages out now that are great introductions to programming that would make more sense to have on a phone. I have my favorite that I do 90% of my coding in, but I won't start a flamewar by naming it or suggesting it to be better than other choices.

In soviet russia (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498490)

BASIC is the only code that run's on your pc.

Honestly... I don't get it! (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498496)

n the Sixties, we could put a man on the moon. Nowadays, laments , America's tech giants can't even put a rotary dialer on the phone. Almon Brown Strowger managed to crank out a patent circa 1891.So did many others! So, why — at a time when development has never been easier — can't Google, Apple, and Microsoft manage to use rotary dialers? Or other retard proof dialers for landlines, mobile phones and even VOIP clients!?

Stupid story (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498502)

What a stupid story. Python is installed with every copy of OS X and Linux, just like BASIC was with the Apple II (well, not quite, it's not in ROM). A cut down version of Python is also available for iOS, or you can have the full thing if you jailbreak or run a remote interpreter on any number of web pages. Speaking as someone who learned to program with BASIC almost three decades ago, Python is a far better language, for learning or anything else.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>