Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Many thanks to Gaz - I am re-mirroring a post that he himself mirrored from an earlier site of mine, as I feel these are useful programming utilities for many ages.

These are tools with the author, programmer, creator or developer of a simulator in mind, notably mostly programming languages and related utilities and sites - so if you're interested in starting your own sim, or just your own program, wrestling simulator or something else entirely, this is a good start for free programs and information you're going to want to look into.

Programming Languages
These are applications which you download and install on your computer, and allow you to write code or programs, either utilities, applications or games (or sims).

Visual Basic
Microsoft's graphical user interface incarnation of BASIC for the Windows era.

Microsoft Visual Basic 2008 Express is the modern graphical user interface (GUI/Windows) version of Microsoft's older, ubiquitous Qbasic for DOS (anyone remember any of that?). Part of the Microsoft Visual Studio Express Editions collection, MS describes it as "ideal for the developer learning to program on Microsoft® Windows®." and yes, it is free, legitimately, from them. This would have been nice, oh, about ten to fifteen years ago for people making sims.

● NOTE: Don't neglect to look into Visual C# and Visual C++, the other two, much more powerful and useful (and marketable, job-wise) free languages offered.

VBTutor is a pretty big site, lots and lots of text, but it has a solid core of useful tutorial content, if you can ignore the peripheral stuff - the link I'm giving skips the "what is VB" and goes right into the start of a "Here is the code window", which I find the first useful part of a tutorial. It is for VB6 but likely is easily adaptable to newer versions.

VBExplorer's Hot Tutorials is a changing list of the popular tutorials, but make sure to look all over the site, they have downloads and code and all manner of other useful goodies.

Microsoft SmallBasic is a strange ultra-beginner mini language, consisting of just 14 keywords, all scopes are global, etc. I gotta admit it's intriguing. It also mentions Alice, Scratch and Phrogram, let us look at them separately in the Pseudo-Language section.

BASIC is the most widespread, most commonly used, by both professionals and casual users, language, in whatever form, and most enduring, spanning every conceivable computer model and brand. Visual languages, or those that allow you to work within and create a graphical user interface (Windows) are the standard now, and Visual Basic is the most well-known BASIC of this kind, but before these, the Qbasic interpreter and the more powerful Quickbasic compiler were the tops of the DOS BASIC scene for years.

Qbasic is/was Microsoft's compiler for DOS they released decades back when the Windows style was first being stolen from Steve Jobs by Bill Gates, which didn't let you compile files into .exe files but allowed you to load the .BAS files and run them. It was finally released into the public domain a few years ago, and now from what I've found on the net, according to Microsoft, its big brother, Quickbasic, has also been released into the public domain. Quickbasic IS a compiler, and allows you to create stand-alone .exe files which anyone can run.

● The problem is that both of these are still DOS based applications, so it's hit-or-miss with today's computers, which just might or might not feel inclined to properly run and display DOS programs, either the language app itself or the program you make, so this is kinda like dropping copyright on the spear after the uzi was invented - nice thoughts, but kinda empty. Still, it does provide an extra free option for people to practice and learn from, and I'm sure it can provide some use for some people.

Ted Felix's Qbasic Programming for Kids is a simple intro and walk-through which, though intended for kids, I found were the kind of things that helped me, even as an adult, get a good handle on new projects I was wanting to learn about.

Qbasic Station's Beginner Tutorials is pretty much what it sounds like. And just because it's so niche, check out some of the songs and videos of the Qbasic Nerd on that site too - original and... pathetic yet charming.

Mac Languages
Apple Macintosh programming languages. Who knew? =)

Chipmunk Basic, lest our Mac friends think they're forgotten, is an open-source programming language, though it is text/command-line, available in Mac or Windows flavors, so a bit pre-DOS Edit, but which was brought to my attention by visitor and long-time sim author Bruce B. Bolos, author of the UEW sim.

TNT Basic Online is "the simplest way to make your own games for the Mac". I don't know how true it is, but it sure is a good hook, check it out and see what you think!

Other Basics
Non-standard, less well-known, usually free and open-source BASICs that nonetheless have a following.

ThinBasic is impressive looking. It is a GUI capable INTERPRETER (it doesn't compile into EXE files) but is very slick and has an active development and support community. "Fast, reliable, well documented, features rich, easy to use and to master Basic Language. No compilation, no intermediate code, just plain text script files analyzed and executed on the fly." I like the sound of that. You could do worse than use a thing where people share their source code in .bas file code format, rather than huge .exe binary files.

XBasic a free, open-source language that's actually been going since '88, but produces GUI programs, AND can run Quickbasic (and I presume Qbasic) programs, with some modification. That's pretty impressive.

Gambas Almost Means BASIC "is a free development environment based on a Basic interpreter with object extensions, a bit like Visual Basic™ (but it is NOT a clone !)." Okay, sounds good to me!

More Languages
Various and sundry "other" languages abide here.

The Free Country's Basic Compilers - What I've given is just a small selection of what I came across or remembered, but having found the site above, I strongly recommend you check it out as well, as it contains more than I'm interested in writing, and has a ton more resources.

Processing is "an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions. It is used by students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists for learning, prototyping, and production. It is created to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context and to serve as a software sketchbook and professional production tool."

Pseudo Languages
These are hard to classify, as they seem to walk the line between development environment and game/story-builder. I actually was unaware of any of these until I started writing this so these are new to me and I'm going to look into them once I finish writing this. They are more or less pre-programming "languages" (if you can call them that), allowing kids or absolute beginners to get the hang of putting things together into interactive packages, without the burden of walls of code and debug highlights and toolbars with cryptic symbols and syntax error dialog boxes everywhere. Drag and drop programming, "codeless", to an extent. An interesting concept. I'll just quote a bit from each site.

Alice "is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web."

Scratch "is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web." Hmm. Alice and Scratch sound very similar - not that that's a bad thing, necessarily, was just hoping for a little more variety.

Phrogram "uses the same type of development environment that working programmers use, as they write, test and debug code, but in a much simpler package. It's great for learning how to create software code while also enjoying the experience of programming ..." This sounds different, a bit between the two above and actual programming, but "bigger" than SmallBasic. Unfortunately, it is a 30 day free trial rather than free open source, but still.

1 comment: