Teach Your Children (How to Program) Well

Microsoft offers a number of good tools for teaching kids the fundamentals of programming.

As the economy continues to sputter, with seemingly no end in sight, I'm starting to wonder about my kids. The future job market continues to look uncertain, but there's no doubt in my mind that devs will continue to have more opportunities than most others. To that end, I've been searching around for learning tools that will intrigue my children, rather than scare them off at the prospect of programming -- you know, doing something hard.

That's why I was delighted to run across Small Basic, Microsoft's computer language for beginners. Small Basic just came out of beta last summer; it's currently at version 1.0. Microsoft says they've "had success" with kids aged 10 through 16, but that adults who want an introduction to development can benefit, too.

I concur. I've played around with Small Basic, and have found it super simple to use. Microsoft includes lots of tutorials for step-by-step learning. One of the best things about Small Basic (which, by the way, looks like it was designed by the Windows XP team; the UI's got that Fisher-Price feel) is that it has its own version of IntelliSense. So when I start typing in Write, IntelliSense pops up and not only suggests completion options, but defines them -- explaining the difference between Write and WriteLine. Extremely, amazingly cool, Microsoft.

And after they've learned the foundations through Small Basic, they can go further, with free Visual Studio Express Versions of, well, pretty much anything in the Microsoft dev universe. That includes Windows Phone, Web development, C# and C++ environments.

From there, there's no telling where they can go.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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