This post introduces Microsoft Small Basic within a Xamarin Workbooks Environment.
Xamarin Workbooks is a free, open-source learning environment that has assisted thousands of Windows users in learning and perfecting basic C#. Microsoft is now leveraging the app as a tool for teaching an introductory programming language, Small Basic, in a method readily available to the average Windows user.
Small Basic’s simple command set combined with the educational features of Xamarin creates the perfect localized environment for children or beginners learning to code, producing what is essentially “Small C#.”
Small Basic was created as an educational coding language, a step between block programming and Visual Basic. It can be considered the preliminary step to more advanced programming and development techniques.
Each Xamarin Workbook combines the written text of a tutorial or webpage with the technical steps of a sample C# program. It also provides interactive preview windows and “run” options for testing small segments of code on the same page directly within the app.
Figure 1: An example of the Xamarin Workbook environment. The document is led with a text cell, and the SmallBasic library is imported in a code cell.
Each space for writing text or code is known as a block or a cell. One can manipulate cells using the “add code,” “add text,” and “delete” buttons in an existing cell. Each code block is continued from the last meaning there is not need to duplicate code.
Workbooks typically begin with a brief text introduction to the learning task, immediately followed by code cells. Any user can follow the instructions to achieve a certain outcome.
Getting Started with Small Basic + Xamarin Workbooks
- Xamarin Workbooks: Get the Xamarin Workbooks Desktop App for Windows here.
- Workbooks Package: A NuGet package integrating the Small Basic library with Workbooks already exists. Follow setup guide below. The package can be found here.
NuGet is a Windows package manager that allows users to import packages from the web. This includes the package containing the Small Basic library for Workbooks.
- Open Xamarin and start a new, blank project.
- Choose "File", "Add Package…", and proceed to open the NuGet Package Manager.
- In the NuGet search bar, find Workbook 1.2.0.
Figure 2: Using the NuGet Package Manager to import SmallBasic.
- Selecting this package will create a new cell in your Workbook which imports the Small Basic library (Figure 1).
- Add the using statement to access Small Basic commands in your code.
- Proceed to write and practice your new project in Xamarin Workbooks while enjoying the features of Small Basic.
The following sample comes from Nonki Takahashi:
- After inserting Small Basic (#r), remember to add the using statement:
- Remember to use a semicolon (;) at the end of each line.
For more guides on the basics of Xamarin Workbooks, check out the Xamarin website here.
For more samples and discussions of Small Basic with Xamarin Workbooks, see this forum thread here.