As a big fan of the Android operating system, and a user of the programming language Basic4Android (B4A) it was only a matter of time before I wrote about it, so here it is….
B4A is a very easy to use programming language that helps you make your own applications, or apps, for an Android device. The language itself is reminiscent of the BASIC programming language, hence the name, and is very easy to pick up and learn.
Having previously only used early forms of the Basic programming language (as a teenager I dabbled with BBC and Commodore Basic) and Googles App Inventor I found it easy to pick up and within a few minutes of trying it was already creating simple apps. Within a few days I was creating more complex apps.
At this point I want to point out that B4A is NOT an interpreter, your app is a native android app which is converted from your basic code into a standalone Android application. That means you get the ease of use of the Basic programming language but the speed of a native Android app because you don’t have an interpreter in between Android and your app telling each how to interact. Whatever you create with it will work the way you want it to, it just won’t be as hard as developing with something like Eclipse.
Part of the beauty of B4A isn’t just that it is easy to learn, but that it can use libraries created by its users to extend its functionality even further.
A library is, in basic terms, a small collection of instructions that allow your app to do things that B4A on its own may not do. There are libraries to record or stream audio, to parse xml or Json data, to scan barcodes, to turn on or off gps remotely and much more.
With Android becoming the most popular mobile operating system an easy way to develop apps for it makes good commercial sense and ofcourse good sense for programmers who would like an easy way to program for it.
B4A has a very helpful user community, plenty of example code available and can be bought at a surprisingly low price which given how powerful and well featured it is I must admit did pleasantly surprise me. There is also a trial version available on its homepage that you can download to see what you think of it.
And so that all important question – is it easy to use, and does it really work?
The answer to both questions is a resounding yes. Do the apps work on the Android market place? Yes. Aside from the many more mainstream apps other programmers sell on the market made using B4A, I myself have some what could be called niche apps (10,000 downloads) on the market and I can confirm that they work as any Android app should.
B4A created apps are just as good and quick as apps hand coded in Java, as you would expect, but with the added benefit of being quick and easy to develop and deploy.
So if you have an Android device and fancy writing your own software for it, check out the website and give the trial version a go and make your own mind up.