Date   
Re: Android update kills BBC BASIC?

Richard Russell
 

I've just discovered that the patch which makes BBCSDL run OK on my OnePlus 5 stops it working on a device running an older version of Android!  Back to the drawing board...

Richard.

Re: Splash Screen Competition

Richard Russell
 

Many thanks to those who submitted splash screens for this competition; there were more entries than I anticipated in fact. There has been quite a variety of styles, from the minimalist to the complex, and from the tasteful to the garish!

I have found it impossible to choose just one, so instead I have whittled them down to a shortlist of three. I will create a poll to seek other people's opinions.

Richard.

locked Splash Screen Poll #poll

Richard Russell
 

Which of the three splash screens that you can view here do you prefer?  If you are not a member of the forum you won't be able to vote there, so I will add together the votes cast there and here.

Results

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

Richard Russell
 

Looks like we have a clear favourite; here are the aggregated votes from the forum and the group:

Rocket: 5
Roundel: 7
Slate: 13

So congratulations to Paul Marshall (author of Dibley) who submitted the Slate design.

I admit it's probably not the choice I would have made (I didn't vote) because green text on a black background reminds me too much of old VDUs from the pre-BBC Micro era - not exactly the impression of a 21st Century product I might have preferred!

But what do I know? I will go along with the 'will of the majority' as seems to be the trend these days - at least it's not an irreversible decision that will have an adverse effect lasting for decades..... grin

Richard.

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

Paul Marshall
 

I am pleased the majority have gone for my design but disappointed it was not your first choice. The 'green screen VDU' was meant to imply some heritage - maybe I've gone back too far because my first use of BBC Basic was on a green screen. I am happy to change it to a white page of coloured syntax for a more modern look. I think the heritage is a selling point but at the same time yes we want to show it is capable of far more than 'Hello World'. That it IS a 21st century product is demonstrated by the fact that is is here and now running on the latest platforms. The Google Play Store is where the description is going to have to sell the advantages of BBC Basic.  Other Basics on the Play Store look pretty 'basic'!

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

Richard Russell
 

On Sat, Feb 3, 2018 at 04:34 am, Paul Marshall wrote:

my first use of BBC Basic was on a green screen
On a BBC Micro?  That must have been quite untypical because most people either connected it to a TV at home or to an RGB monitor at school.  I primarily associate green screens with mainframe terminals or early PCs.

I am happy to change it to a white page of coloured syntax for a more modern look.
It's too late to change anything, I'm afraid.  Apart from not wanting to assume that a modified version would attract as much support (and I'm not going to re-run the poll!) I've now got it on all my Android devices for testing.  It's not growing on me, I'm sorry to say, but I bow to the majority opinion.

I think the heritage is a selling point
Do you really think so?  In 2018?  Running on Android?  Honestly I wouldn't expect the majority of people who might be attracted to such a product even to have heard of the BBC Micro.  If BBC BASIC has any future it's not by appealing to 50+ year olds nostalgic about a home computer that they fondly remember from their youth.

Richard.

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

David GM6BIG
 

Hi Richard, Paul

I recall when I worked for the BBC the BBC micro we had supplied was green screen.
A mod I think to bring out the video meant for the modulator, directly to a cheap green mono monitor.
I guess my departmentv was not worthy of colour !
(It didnt last long an a colour CUB (?) monitor was "aquired").

Im sure the heritage will catch the eye of many when browsing through the store.
It is indeed far more capable than many of the other BASIC's.

Cheers, DAvid

On 03/02/2018 12:57, Richard Russell wrote:
On Sat, Feb 3, 2018 at 04:34 am, Paul Marshall wrote:

my first use of BBC Basic was on a green screen

On a BBC Micro?  That must have been quite untypical because most people either connected it to a TV at home or to an RGB monitor at school.  I primarily associate green screens with mainframe terminals or early PCs.

I am happy to change it to a white page of coloured syntax for a
more modern look.

It's too late to change anything, I'm afraid.  Apart from not wanting to assume that a modified version would attract as much support (and I'm not going to re-run the poll!) I've now got it on all my Android devices for testing.  It's not growing on me, I'm sorry to say, but I bow to the majority opinion.

I think the heritage is a selling point

Do you really think so?  In 2018?  Running on Android?  Honestly I wouldn't expect the majority of people who might be attracted to such a product even to have heard of the BBC Micro.  If BBC BASIC has any future it's not by appealing to 50+ year olds nostalgic about a home computer that they fondly remember from their youth.

Richard.

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

Paul Marshall
 

I am pleased the majority picked my design but disappointed it was not what Richard wanted. I have done a more modern looking variation in which the black slate is replaced by a 'tablet' showing a white background with coloured syntax of the latest IDE,
I hope no one will object if Richard wants to use this design instead. 

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

Storer, Darren
 

​...as it happens, back in the 1980s, I specifically purchased a long persistence green screen VDU for use with my BBC Micro​ :-)

(Later I discovered *TV255 and I turned the interlace off in display modes 0 to 6)

Regards

Darren

On 3 February 2018 at 12:57, Richard Russell <news@...> wrote:
On Sat, Feb 3, 2018 at 04:34 am, Paul Marshall wrote:

my first use of BBC Basic was on a green screen
On a BBC Micro?  That must have been quite untypical because most people either connected it to a TV at home or to an RGB monitor at school.  I primarily associate green screens with mainframe terminals or early PCs.

I am happy to change it to a white page of coloured syntax for a more modern look.
It's too late to change anything, I'm afraid.  Apart from not wanting to assume that a modified version would attract as much support (and I'm not going to re-run the poll!) I've now got it on all my Android devices for testing.  It's not growing on me, I'm sorry to say, but I bow to the majority opinion.

I think the heritage is a selling point
Do you really think so?  In 2018?  Running on Android?  Honestly I wouldn't expect the majority of people who might be attracted to such a product even to have heard of the BBC Micro.  If BBC BASIC has any future it's not by appealing to 50+ year olds nostalgic about a home computer that they fondly remember from their youth.

Richard.


BBC BASIC for SDL 2.0 v0.20a released

Richard Russell
 

I've updated BBCSDL, the free cross-platform implementation of BBC BASIC, to version 0.20a. The various editions may be downloaded as follows:

The Android edition will also run on the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

As things are currently looking this may be the last release of BBCSDL.

The main changes in this version are as follows:

BASIC interpreter:

  1. The INT() function returns a true integer variant, not a floating-point value that happens to be an integer.

  2. The PTR(string$) function returns the memory address of a string.

  3. The <<< operator performs a 64-bit shift, even in the default *hex32 mode.

  4. Fixed a bug in the raise-to-power operator ^ (Android and Raspberry Pi editions).

Libraries:

  1. Fixed a minor bug in the socklib library.

  2. Added the eventlib and timerlib libraries (compatible with their BB4W equivalents).

Example Programs:

  1. The fire graphics demo has been added.

  2. The Penrose stairs graphics (and sound) demo has been added.

IDEs:

  1. SDLIDE.bbc: You can now select an item in the List variables window and it will be automatically scrolled to keep it in view.

  2. touchide.bbc: The 'New file' and 'Rename file' commands default to an extension of .bbc if none is entered.


In addition. the Android edition has been modified (hopefully) to fix an incompatibility with recent releases of Android. It also has a (not very nice) splash screen!


I apologise that none of the major outstanding shortcomings has been addressed in this release, and probably won't ever be. These include the absence of a 'compile' (create application) capability, no add-in utilities (such as Cross Reference), no integrated Help, no support for printing etc.

Richard.

Re: BBC BASIC for SDL 2.0 v0.20a released

 

Working again on Oneplus 5 with latest OxygenOS 5.0.2 - much appreciated.

Re: BBC BASIC for SDL 2.0 v0.20a released

Paul Marshall
 

Thanks Richard
Working well on Amazon Fire TV.

To my delight and surprise it also works on a 2017 Sony Android TV.  Surprise because the Android TV is IMHO a pretty terrible OS. I've tried a few 'unapproved' apps and none worked.

Delight because a USB keyboard & mouse work on the TV so it is now potentially possible to make edits to programs relatively easily. Two problems with that - although the physical keyboard & mouse work the Android on-screen keyboard also appears and it is not possible to get rid of it - this is an Android issue I think.  Also the editor has only 40 columns with no sideways scrolling. It is possible to type on the keyboard, and to scroll up and down smoothly with the mouse wheel but there is no way to scroll right. SO more investigation needed but encouraging.
As it is a third party app it does not (unlike on the Fire) appear in my Home screen Apps list so has to be controlled via Settings/Apps. There are side-loading control apps but I haven't found one I like.
There are few apps in the Google Play Store for Android TV so if we can get this approved it will be the first Basic (or indeed any programming language)  for Android TV.

Re: BBC BASIC for SDL 2.0 v0.20a released

Richard Russell
 

On Sun, Feb 4, 2018 at 03:15 am, Paul Marshall wrote:
the Android on-screen keyboard also appears and it is not possible to get rid of it - this is an Android issue I think
In my experience, connecting an external keyboard (in my case via Bluetooth) suppresses the on-screen keyboard, so that is surprising.

Also the editor has only 40 columns with no sideways scrolling.
The touchide editor isn't limited to 40-columns, and scrolls horizontally if you either type past the right-hand edge of the screen, or move the text caret that far using the right-arrow key on the keyboard.  I appreciate that there's no direct keyboard control of horizontal scroll, only the automatic scroll which keeps the caret 'in view', but I'm confused by your comment otherwise.

Richard.

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

Paul Marshall
 

On Sat, Feb 3, 2018 at 04:57 am, Richard Russell wrote:
If BBC BASIC has any future it's not by appealing to 50+ year olds nostalgic about a home computer that they fondly remember from their youth.
I fear the time has passed. Never again will children experience the joy of going into Currys and typing  10 PRINT "Hello"  20 GOTO 10  on whatever machine was on display!   Programming has come so far it will only ever be of interest  to a very  limited number of highly technically minded individuals who pursue it as a career and even then Basic will not be one of those languages. As a hobby in itself where is it? I dont know how you can make it appeal to young people in the way it did to us. What was it that captured our imaginations? 
The nostalgia element IS a big part of BBC Basic. I've just had fun running the Ceefax demo on my state-of-the-art TV. It works brilliantly but will I now use it instead of the red button? No. I love those demos of the Z80 music program. For me now age 70 it was at the time amazing (still is) but what would a young person think of it now?   Does anyone care about Mode 7 any longer?  I'm not knocking the included demos but we do need something more up to date to inspire the new user.
We know BBC Basic is capable of so much more. I recall at work we created programs to perform various functions. Then professional programmers were called in to build the proper Mark II version. They looked on in stunned silence as we demonstrated our 'amateur' software. They never did make it work as well as ours.  But those days are gone. I have been racking my brains trying to think of something to write for my phone but its all been done already or else it's too hard.  We just need that killer app!

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

Richard Russell
 

On Sun, Feb 4, 2018 at 04:25 am, Paul Marshall wrote:
I dont know how you can make it appeal to young people in the way it did to us
You choose to ignore the fact that BBC BASIC is still, to this very day, taught in a number of schools and until quite recently was actually recommended by the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) examining board as a suitable language for teaching programming for their Computing GCSE.  I have in front of me their coursework book from as recently as 2016 and on page 211 it states "The code samples included in the chapter have been written in BBC BASIC".  It's not only UK schools that teach BBC BASIC either, within the last year or so I sold a site licence to a school in New Zealand!

It's true that Python is currently more popular in schools, but those teachers who remain enthusiastic about BBC BASIC point to BB4W's ability to create compact standalone executables as something that sets it apart - and Python's dependence on whitespace to indicate program structure upsets a lot of educationalists.  This comment was posted to the Computing At School community site only recently: "The best mini course I ever taught and the one we went back to after Greenfoot was BBC BASIC...  The tutorial was excellent: all the boxes were ticked, from matching a specification at GCSE when students go there, to moving from pseudo-code to code, to covering all the basics in an easy way.  I’m all for progress but sometimes, I think we forget we have already invented the best way of doing something, or invented the best language for teaching beginners!"

So whilst nostalgia is not necessarily a bad thing, you do BBC BASIC a disservice by implying that its "days are gone" when there is clear evidence that it is not the case.  One thing's for sure, by being so pessimistic you have a big impact on my own motivation so it could easily become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Richard.

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

Paul F Tolson
 

Glad to hear it is still alive and well in schools - horses for courses :)

Paul

On 04/02/2018 12:57, Richard Russell wrote:
On Sun, Feb 4, 2018 at 04:25 am, Paul Marshall wrote:
I dont know how you can make it appeal to young people in the way it did to us
You choose to ignore the fact that BBC BASIC is still, to this very day, taught in a number of schools and until quite recently was actually recommended by the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) examining board as a suitable language for teaching programming for their Computing GCSE.  I have in front of me their coursework book from as recently as 2016 and on page 211 it states "The code samples included in the chapter have been written in BBC BASIC".  It's not only UK schools that teach BBC BASIC either, within the last year or so I sold a site licence to a school in New Zealand!

It's true that Python is currently more popular in schools, but those teachers who remain enthusiastic about BBC BASIC point to BB4W's ability to create compact standalone executables as something that sets it apart - and Python's dependence on whitespace to indicate program structure upsets a lot of educationalists.  This comment was posted to the Computing At School community site only recently: "The best mini course I ever taught and the one we went back to after Greenfoot was BBC BASIC...  The tutorial was excellent: all the boxes were ticked, from matching a specification at GCSE when students go there, to moving from pseudo-code to code, to covering all the basics in an easy way.  I’m all for progress but sometimes, I think we forget we have already invented the best way of doing something, or invented the best language for teaching beginners!"

So whilst nostalgia is not necessarily a bad thing, you do BBC BASIC a disservice by implying that its "days are gone" when there is clear evidence that it is not the case.  One thing's for sure, by being so pessimistic you have a big impact on my own motivation so it could easily become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Richard.

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

Richard Russell
 

On Sun, Feb 4, 2018 at 04:25 am, Paul Marshall wrote:
But those days are gone.
Are they?  At last year's International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam and at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) exhibition in Las Vegas, Shotoku demonstrated their Free-d² camera tracking system for use in television studios.  That same system was installed in a BBC studio in Northern Ireland only a couple of years ago.  Do you know what it's programmed in?  Yes, BBC BASIC for Windows!

We just need that killer app!
Would you not agree that David Williams' game 'Forces of Darkness' comes close to qualifying?  Not only did it win First Prize in a recent games programming competition, against all-comers, but I was able to make a version for BBCSDL consisting of 100% BBC BASIC code, having a comparable performance to the original.  In how many languages (old or new) could you write a game like that which would run without modification on Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Android and Raspberry Pi?

Shoot-em-up video games and professional broadcasting facilities may not be your 'thing', and there's unlikely to be one 'killer app' that convinces everybody, but these two very different examples demonstrate the power and continued relevance of BBC BASIC today.  I know only too well how easy - and sometimes appealing - it can be to complain about how things used to be so much better in our youth and how we must abandon all hope.  But there is plenty of good news about BBC BASIC and you could choose to be more positive about it.

Richard.

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

 

On Sun, 4 Feb 2018, at 12:22, Paul Marshall wrote:

I fear the time has passed. Never again will children experience the joy
of going into Currys and typing  10 PRINT "Hello"  20 GOTO 10  on
whatever machine was on display!   Programming has come so far it will
only ever be of interest  to a very  limited number of highly
technically minded individuals who pursue it as a career and even then
Basic will not be one of those languages. As a hobby in itself where is
it? I dont know how you can make it appeal to young people in the way it
did to us. What was it that captured our imaginations? 
One of my hobbies as a child was to build, & operate remote-controlled
models. I couldn't afford new ones so mine tended to be mechanically
clapped-out. Sometimes as an adult I look back on those days and
wonder if I want to try again now that I can actually afford it. And I
decide not; I get the thrill of creating something that does precisely what
I want from programming. Being able to design a program, then tweak it
to make subtle changes to its behaviour is, for me, far more exciting. (And
cheaper & safer than finding that that 'good idea' made a plane unstable in
flight.)

I was slightly too old to have any form of microcomputer as a toy;
instead I met a Commodore Pet, Apple ][ and BBC micros when in
a student holiday job (the Pet was an engineers' toy at a fertiliser
works), the other two part of a teacher training college's teaching
equipment - and I wrote code for all three.

There ARE useful programs that the interested can learn from - pretty
much anything written in an interpreted BASIC, or eg perl or Python
(provided not obfuscated) should be amenable to being taken apart
and fiddled with. Perhaps part of the problem is that few people
expect that a useful application might actually be in a form where
they can do that? Eg (albeit as a retired professional programmer) I
learned quite a lot about perl by developing patches for the get_iplayer
program.

Javascript too... but understanding what's happening on a typical
modern website is very hard - code tends to be compressed and un-
commented, and website creators use sets of libraries that don't
necessarily co-operate well together... and if that's combined with
a server generating pages dynamically I find debugging other people's
site errors ... difficult.

--
Jeremy Nicoll - my opinions are my own.

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

wilsr747
 

On 04-Feb-18 23:22, Paul Marshall wrote:
I fear the time has passed. Never again will children experience the joy of going into Currys and typing  10 PRINT "Hello"  20 GOTO 10  on whatever machine was on display!   Programming has come so far it will only ever be of interest  to a very  limited number of highly technically minded individuals who pursue it as a career and even then Basic will not be one of those languages. As a hobby in itself where is it? I dont know how you can make it appeal to young people in the way it did to us. What was it that captured our imaginations?
The nostalgia element IS a big part of BBC Basic. I've just had fun running the Ceefax demo on my state-of-the-art TV. It works brilliantly but will I now use it instead of the red button? No. I love those demos of the Z80 music program. For me now age 70 it was at the time amazing (still is) but what would a young person think of it now?   Does anyone care about Mode 7 any longer?  I'm not knocking the included demos but we do need something more up to date to inspire the new user.
We know BBC Basic is capable of so much more. I recall at work we created programs to perform various functions. Then professional programmers were called in to build the proper Mark II version. They looked on in stunned silence as we demonstrated our 'amateur' software. They never did make it work as well as ours.  But those days are gone. I have been racking my brains trying to think of something to write for my phone but its all been done already or else it's too hard.  We just need that killer app!
_._,_._,_
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Paul: I do agree. I'm not saying I like it, but we have to face facts.

BBC BASIC is an extraordinary programming language for those of us who self-taught in the eighties to whatever level we wished (in my case fairly basic :-[ ) but, as you say, programming has become so complex that for most of us who do it occasionally as a hobby in general it's only for professional programmers. The Me generation(s) are not interested in exploring, only consuming: curiosity seems to have disappeared nowadays, and it was that sense of "finding out" that made programming as an amateur so interesting then.

Richard's BBC BASIC for Windows is a tour de force but sadly I don't see the user base increasing much.

Rog W

locked Re: Splash Screen Poll #poll

John Alfred
 

BASIC's demise has been predicted for decades, and it's still around. It's a very easy language to learn how to use, and I used it for running IC test programs internally in Analog Devices back in the 1980's, on a HP-85.

I'm out of touch now, but could a BASIC Interpreter be developed to run on smart phones and tablets?

John




From: wilsr747 <wilsr@...>
To: bb4w@groups.io
Sent: Sunday, 4 February 2018, 22:50
Subject: Re: [bb4w] Splash Screen Poll

On 04-Feb-18 23:22, Paul Marshall wrote:
> I fear the time has passed. Never again will children experience the joy of
> going into Currys and typing  10 PRINT "Hello"  20 GOTO 10  on whatever
> machine was on display!   Programming has come so far it will only ever be of
> interest  to a very  limited number of highly technically minded individuals
> who pursue it as a career and even then Basic will not be one of those
> languages. As a hobby in itself where is it? I dont know how you can make it
> appeal to young people in the way it did to us. What was it that captured our
> imaginations?
> The nostalgia element IS a big part of BBC Basic. I've just had fun running
> the Ceefax demo on my state-of-the-art TV. It works brilliantly but will I now
> use it instead of the red button? No. I love those demos of the Z80 music
> program. For me now age 70 it was at the time amazing (still is) but what
> would a young person think of it now?   Does anyone care about Mode 7 any
> longer?  I'm not knocking the included demos but we do need something more up
> to date to inspire the new user.
> We know BBC Basic is capable of so much more. I recall at work we created
> programs to perform various functions. Then professional programmers were
> called in to build the proper Mark II version. They looked on in stunned
> silence as we demonstrated our 'amateur' software. They never did make it work
> as well as ours.  But those days are gone. I have been racking my brains
> trying to think of something to write for my phone but its all been done
> already or else it's too hard.  We just need that killer app!
> _._,_._,_
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Paul: I do agree. I'm not saying I like it, but we have to face facts.

BBC BASIC is an extraordinary programming language for those of us who
self-taught in the eighties to whatever level we wished (in my case fairly basic
:-[ ) but, as you say, programming has become so complex that for most of us who
do it occasionally as a hobby in general it's only for professional programmers.
The Me generation(s) are not interested in exploring, only consuming: curiosity
seems to have disappeared nowadays, and it was that sense of "finding out" that
made programming as an amateur so interesting then.

Richard's BBC BASIC for Windows is a tour de force but sadly I don't see the
user base increasing much.

Rog W