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Learn the programming basics with this simple tool

by Mike Williams

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License: Open Source
Operating Systems: Linux, Windows 10, Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows 8, Windows Server, Windows Vista (32 bit), Windows Vista (64 bit), Windows XP
Languages: English
Software Cost: Free
Date Updated: 04 February 2016
Watchlist: Add download to my watchlist
Downloads To Date: 2757
Developer: Jim Reneau
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Learn the programming basics with this simple tool

BASIC-256 is a simple BASIC language interpreter designed to help middle and high-school students learn the fundamentals of programming.

The core of the language follows the usual BASIC style. Commands are entered sequentially on numbered lines; For/ Next and Do/ Until handle your looping needs; there's If/ Then/ Else for conditional testing, with GoSub and GoTo for flow control (although you do get Functions, too).

BASIC-256 isn't just some ancient GW-BASIC clone, though. There is the classic "OnError" command for error handling, but you also get the more structured Try/ Catch/ EndTry. Begin Case/ Case/ End Case structures make for very readable conditional testing. Array elements can be assigned in a single line, like this:

dim z(5)
z = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}

There are some surprisingly powerful extras, too. BASIC-256 provides a set of commands to work with SQLite databases, for example, processing a SQL statement and returning the results. You can create programs to communicate across your network, or the internet. There's even a simple (and safe) way of saving configuration data to the Registry, and reading it later.

This is still just a simple BASIC interpreter. There's no support for objects, no ability to call external code, no form designer, no output options beyond scrolling text and extremely basic graphics. It'll help users to learn about fundamental control structures, but nothing more.

BASIC-256 does offer enough functionality to be useful, though, as a very first programming language, while some bundled examples and online tutorials make it easy to learn.

Version is a bug fix release.


BASIC-256 is a simple, stripped-back language which makes it easy for novices to learn the fundamentals of computer programming. It's also very limited - if you've any previous development experience then the package will frustrate you very quickly - but if you just want something your kids can play with, to see if they're interested in programming or not, then it's a reasonable choice.

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Spotlight: Free Full Software

Spektrel Art 1.0.0

Free Full Commercial Software

Spektrel Art is a stand-alone program and Photoshop plugin which transforms digital photos into "magical art that glimmers and gleams with intersecting lines of tapered light".

What does that mean? Essentially it applies a configurable mix of effects, enhancing edges, smoothing backgrounds and emphasizing colours. Take a look at the thumbnail for one example, and the official product page has more.

Spektral Art works much like any similar tool. Open an image, click one of the thumbnails to apply a particular preset, or click a few buttons and drag some sliders to fine-tune the results.

There's surprising scope for variation, too. For example, just switching from the "Light" to "Dark" theme can transform a bright and friendly image into something dark and sinister, at least in some cases (results vary depending on the source image).

Please note, the demo version doesn't allow images to be saved.

SPECIAL OFFER: as we write, the developer is offering Spektral Art for free. The offer expires August 29th. Please note that you must provide your name, address and phone number to receive your free license.