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James Serra's Blog

James is currently a Senior Business Intelligence Architect/Developer and has over 20 years of IT experience. James started his career as a software developer, then became a DBA 12 years ago, and for the last five years he has been working extensively with Business Intelligence using the SQL Server BI stack (SSAS, SSRS, and SSIS). James has been at times a permanent employee, consultant, contractor, and owner of his own business. All these experiences along with continuous learning has helped James to develop many successful data warehouse and BI projects. James has earned the MCITP Business Developer 2008, MCITP Database Administrator 2008, and MCITP Database Developer 2008, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. His blog is at .

Microsoft Small Basic

This is a bit off-topic, but I wanted to mention a great tool for beginners to learn how to program.  This tool is especially ideal for those of us who have high schoolers who are interested in programming (this blog is directed at my son James).  Small Basic 1.0 was released this past month, after more than two years of pre-release versions.

It is a very slimmed-down version of Visual Basic (the Small Basic language consists of just 14 keywords), designed with a friendly development environment that is easy to master and a great introduction into the world of programming.  It even has IntelliSense.  Part of what makes it so fun is it’s easy to create games and share those games with your friends, as well as the ability to post your games on a blog or website to play within a browser using a Silverlight player.

You can learn the programming concepts starting with the fundamentals and move your way up.  Small Basic is based on .NET and what you learn could be easily applied to other .NET programming languages like Visual Basic.  And when you do graduate to Visual Basic, you can bring your existing programs with you using a built-in conversion utility.

So, to get started, visit the Small Basic site.  Here are my favorite links:

- Download Small Basic
- Read the Getting Started Guide in PDF, Word, or online, or use the online Small Basic Curriculum, which provides separate lessons, just like a classroom.  They are pretty similar, so if you like learning by reading a book, use the Getting Started Guide.  If you like learning via lessons, use the online Small Basic Curriculum
- If you need help, there is a forum to post questions or read answers to questions others have posted
- The Reference Documentation describes the syntax of all the commands
- When you write a program that you want to share, you can easily upload your code to the Internet.  Others can then view your code and run your program (either within Small Basic or on the Small Basic website – see example).  See the lesson on how to do this
- Check out these “recipes“, which are free lessons to learn more about Small Basic.  Developed by Teach Kids Programming
- On YouTube there are many tutorials
- You can find greatly expanded tutorials for purchase as Computer Science For Kids
- Free Small Basic E-Books: The Developer’s Reference Guide to Small Basic, Beginning Microsoft Small Basic, Basic Computer Games Small Basic Edition
- There is a facebook page and a blog

Now unleash the next generation of programmers!

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