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Isaiah Kelly
Isaiah Kelly

Create Games and Animations with Small Basic on Mac: Tips and Tricks

Small Basic for Mac: A Beginner's Guide to Programming

If you are looking for a simple and fun way to learn programming, you might want to try Small Basic. Small Basic is a programming language, interpreter and associated IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that is designed to help students transition from block-based coding to text-based coding. By teaching the fundamental elements of syntax-based languages in an approachable manner, Small Basic gives students the skills and confidence to tackle more complex programming languages such as Java and C#. You can also build applications for Kinect, Lego Mindstorm, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Oculus Rift, and more using Small Basic. For ages 7 to 107, Small Basic is one of the easiest ways to learn to code.

Small Basic For Mac

In this article, we will introduce you to Small Basic and its features and benefits. We will also show you how you can run Small Basic programs on Mac, which is not supported natively by Microsoft. We will then explore some of the alternatives that run on macOS with similar functionality, and compare and contrast them with Small Basic. Finally, we will provide you with some tutorials and examples that will help you get started with Small Basic coding online or offline.

Small Basic history and development

Small Basic was developed by Vijaye Raji, a developer at Microsoft, in 2008 in response to an article written in September 2006 by David Brin called, Why Johnny cant code. It would be best to let Vijaye tell the story of how Small Basic was born:

"I read an article by David Brin called 'Why Johnny Can't Code' where he lamented about how there was no simple programming language available today that kids could use to learn programming. He talked about how BASIC was a great language for beginners because it was simple enough that anyone could understand it. He also talked about how he learned programming using BASIC on a teletype machine. That article struck a chord in me because I learned programming exactly like he did. I used BASIC on a teletype machine when I was in 8th grade. That experience changed my life forever. I decided to do something about it."

Vijaye Raji

Small Basic draws inspiration from the original BASIC language, as well as Logo and QBasic. It has only 14 keywords and is strictly imperative. There are no classes, scopes, generics, lambdas, etc. - just pure imperative code. It also provides a friendly development environment with functionality such as syntax highlighting, intelligent code completion, and in-editor documentation access.

Microsoft announced Small Basic in October 2008 , and released the first stable version for distribution on July 12, 2011 , on a Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) website, together with a teaching curriculum and an introductory guide . Between announcement and stable release, a number of Community Technology Preview (CTP) releases were made. On March 27, 2015, Microsoft released Small Basic version 1.1 , which fixed a bug and upgraded the targeted .NET Framework version from version 3.5 to version 4.5, making it the first version incompatible with Windows XP. The current stable version is v1.2 , which was released on October 1, 2015.

<h Small Basic alternatives for Mac

Unfortunately, Small Basic is not available for Mac natively. This is because Small Basic is built on the .NET Framework, which is a Windows-only technology. However, there are some ways to run Small Basic programs on Mac, such as using a virtual machine, a remote desktop, or a web browser. Here are some of the options you can try:

  • Virtual machine: A virtual machine is a software that simulates a computer system, allowing you to run different operating systems and applications on your Mac. You can use a virtual machine software such as Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion, or VirtualBox to install Windows on your Mac and then run Small Basic on it. This method requires some technical skills and disk space, but it gives you the full functionality of Small Basic on your Mac.

  • Remote desktop: A remote desktop is a service that allows you to access another computer over the internet, using your Mac as a display and keyboard. You can use a remote desktop software such as Microsoft Remote Desktop, TeamViewer, or Chrome Remote Desktop to connect to a Windows PC that has Small Basic installed on it. This method requires a reliable internet connection and a Windows PC, but it lets you use Small Basic without installing anything on your Mac.

  • Web browser: A web browser is a software that allows you to access websites and web applications on your Mac. You can use a web browser such as Safari, Chrome, or Firefox to run Small Basic programs online using a web-based interpreter such as SB-Prime , SmallBasicOnline , or SmallBasicEditor . This method requires no installation or configuration, but it has limited features and performance compared to the native version of Small Basic.

If none of these options appeal to you, you can also try some of the alternatives that run on macOS natively and offer similar functionality to Small Basic. Some of these alternatives are:

  • Scratch: Scratch is a block-based visual programming language and online community that allows you to create interactive stories, games, and animations. Scratch is designed for ages 8 and up, and is widely used in education and creative expression. Scratch has a simple drag-and-drop interface, a rich library of sprites and sounds, and a supportive community of users and educators. You can download Scratch for Mac from [here] or use it online [here].

  • Python: Python is a high-level, interpreted, general-purpose programming language that emphasizes code readability and simplicity. Python is one of the most popular and versatile programming languages in the world, and is used for web development, data analysis, machine learning, game development, and more. Python has a clear and consistent syntax, a large standard library, and multiple frameworks and tools for different purposes. You can download Python for Mac from [here] or use it online [here].

  • Swift Playgrounds: Swift Playgrounds is an app for iPad and Mac that teaches you how to code in Swift, the powerful programming language created by Apple. Swift Playgrounds lets you solve puzzles and challenges using interactive code, graphics, and animations. Swift Playgrounds is designed for ages 10 and up, and is ideal for learning the fundamentals of coding as well as creating apps for iOS and macOS. You can download Swift Playgrounds for Mac from [here] or use it online [here].

The table below summarizes some of the main features and differences between Small Basic and its alternatives for Mac.






Small Basic















Swift Playgrounds





Small Basic tutorials and examples

If you want to learn how to code with Small Basic, there are plenty of resources available for you online and offline. Whether you want to learn the basics of Small Basic syntax, create fun games and animations, or explore the possibilities of extensions and libraries, there is something for everyone. Here are some of the resources you can check out:

  • Small Basic Coding Curriculum: This is a series of 14 practice exercises that teach you the fundamentals of Small Basic programming. You can download the practice files from [here] and follow the instructions to complete them. You will learn how to display text, draw graphics, use variables, write conditionals, loop through code, create subroutines, handle events, work with arrays, perform math operations, manipulate images, and use turtle graphics.

  • Small Basic Tutorials: These are three levels of tutorials that guide you through creating a simple game with Small Basic. You can download the tutorial files from [here] and follow the steps to create a game where you control a turtle that collects stars and avoids crabs. You will learn how to use the graphics window, the turtle object, the keyboard object, the game object, the math object, and the sound object.

  • Small Basic Comprehensive Tutorial: This is a more detailed and interactive tutorial that covers all the aspects of Small Basic programming. You can access the tutorial online from [here] and follow the instructions to complete various tasks and challenges. You will learn how to use variables, operators, expressions, statements, subroutines, events, objects, properties, methods, libraries, extensions, and more.

  • Small Basic Examples: These are some of the examples of programs and games that you can create with Small Basic. You can download the source code from [here] and run them on your computer or modify them as you wish. You will see how to create applications such as a calculator, a clock, a slideshow, a paint program, a pong game, a snake game, a tic-tac-toe game, a hangman game, and more.