Microsoft Small Basic Fun

After listening to .NET Rocks Episode 562, “Teaching Kids Programming,” I downloaded Small Basic again to play around a bit. I uploaded a little triangle fractal program that’s available here:

Here are a couple notables:

  • The web-based view scales down the graphics, doesn’t appear to support PenWidth, and doesn’t draw as smoothly as the installed IDE does, so it’s a little less nifty through the above URL.
  • As far as I can tell, subroutines in Small Basic don’t support parameters, which makes recursion a little more difficult, which makes fractals a little more interesting since they’re naturally recursive. It was fun to work around this with a Stack.
  • I’m so used to reducing the scope of variables as far as possible in my daily work, and avoiding the use of global variables. Small Basic feels funny because everything is global. (I definitely think that makes good sense considering what Small Basic is intended for.)
  • It was a good trigonometry review. I had an inkling that ArcTan was going to give me some trouble, but I couldn’t remember exactly what.  After a bit of trial and error I have it down that if we’re on the left side of the unit circle we need to go in the opposite direction. Adjusting the angle by 180 degrees doesn’t seem to cut it.
  • I played around with some recipes at, and can see how that technique might help kids learn things pretty well. Maybe I’ll try that with my oldest two this summer.

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