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BASIC Is Dead. Bury It.

Date/Time Permalink: 01/03/12 04:08:23 pm
Category: General

Quite the troll post on Slashdot over the Holiday weekend, sniveling about wanting BASIC on the mobile phone platform.

BASIC advocates seem to come back annually on Slashdot like a herpes outbreak. Last year it was somebody advocating BASIC as a teaching language again. Touting BASIC as a way to teach "the joy of programming" is like recommending a night in a whorehouse as a way to teach young men "the joy of marriage".

In the first place, we already have "teaching languages".

  • Python is a "teaching language". python.org: "Python is an easy to learn, powerful programming language."
  • Javascript is a "teaching language". w3schools.com: "JavaScript is easy to learn."
  • Scheme is a "teaching language". cs.hut.fi: "Scheme is also a very small language and is therefore easy to learn."
  • What about Ruby? Is it a "teaching language" too? Yep, net.tutsplus.com: "Ruby is a fun, beautiful, and easy-to-learn language."

Are you seeing a pattern here? Even the wetbrains over at Daniweb assert Assembly Language CAN be easy to learn! Oh, goody, assembly is a teaching language too!

With all the miles and miles of cowflop under which all discourse about programming is buried, such that we need a snorkel just to find a programming language, who on Earth can possibly use this fantasy notion that "programming language $X is easy to learn" and believe that what they have said means anything? It's like consumer packaging of "health food". What, as opposed to the nasty unhealthy food that's going to kill you? Funny, where is the "unhealth food" section at the grocery store? I can never seem to find that one.

And don't take me for some panic-stricken moral old-schooler who's bigoted against BASIC. Don't forget, I, too, played with BASIC in my school days, and even posted a tutorial on how to run QBasic code on DOSBox a while back. If DOSBox can run on a mobile phone, there you go! BASIC on a phone, knock yourself out; enjoy typing miles of syntactic-sugar code with your thumbs.

The difference is: I let BASIC go. BASIC is old-hat, old-school, gone, just like Pascal and COBOL, only used for legacy systems and backwards compatibility. Nobody should be learning BASIC now, except just for the curiosity value or to port over legacy applications.

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