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Mike Riley

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

techBASIC 2.0 Now Available

April 24, 2012

Dr. Dobb's readers may recall my initial review of techBASIC 1.0 for the iOS platform. techBASIC Developer Mike Westerfield took my earlier criticisms seriously and addressed a majority of them in this new release. techBASIC 2.0 now supports the camera on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, as well as the rudimentary UI widgets such as buttons, list views, sliders, spinners, and pickers. These additions make techBASIC a really powerful platform for students and individuals interested in learning how to program using Post PC hardware.

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The addition of user interface controls adds a whole new dimension to techBASIC interpreted code. Applications can now be easily outfitted with a UI that can rival relatively simple, native iPhone and iPad applications. Byteworks, the company responsible for techBASIC, even posted adetailed and very helpful description of these new UI elements along with code examples that show how easy it is to incorporate them into techBASIC programs. There is also an accompanying YouTube video showing these controls in action.

Unfortunately, the app cannot compile code to a native iPhone app and, as such, is hindered by performance issues for anything requiring heavy computation or intense graphic manipulation. Of course, these limitations are imposed by iOS, not by the potential of techBASIC. But given that techBASIC is educationally-oriented and not currently commercial application development-focused, these iOS-imposed restrictions are not that much of a hindrance when coding and running apps with photographic, sensor-capable, and network-enabled interactivity.

Now that techBASIC has made its mark on the iOS platform, I'd like to see Mike take this extraordinary interpretive application and port it to the Android platform where access to the file system, the creation of background services, and (as we've seen with the Android Java IDE) the compilation to native application code might be possible. But for now, any educator or BASIC language enthusiast with an iPad should check out techBASIC 2.0. It could be the tool that launches the careers of a future programmer who might one day sell a camera app to a social media company for a billion dollars.

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