Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Hacks: Articles about programming in Python, Perl, PHP, and whatever else I happen to feel like hacking at.

HotPaw Basic on iOS

Jerry Stratton, July 13, 2014

While looking at Chipmunk Basic yesterday, I noticed that Ron Nicholson also has a BASIC for iOS, HotPaw Basic. I’m not sure how useful it is, but it’s insanely fun. It appears to be based off of the Chipmunk code, and so works similarly. It also includes functions for accessing the touchscreen, the accelerometer, and the GPS location.

This is very simple code for drawing random circles wherever you’re touching the screen.

Compared to the other programming environment I have on my iPad, Pythonista, the built-in editor is archaic. It’s one-line-at-a-time editing pretty much just like I remember it from the early eighties—but even toward the late eighties, I was using a full-screen BASIC editor on OS-9. This is more like the old interactive BASICs where you replaced a line by retyping that line number; you can also edit a line by typing “edit” and the line’s number.

Type just the line’s number to delete that line.

Just like in the old days, it is very easy to program an endless loop; however, even these tiny computers we carry in our pockets are so fast that an endless loop can be impossible to break out of. My initial circles program just drew random circles at random locations on the screen; it locked up HotPaw Basic—the Stop button failed to work. Unlike the old days, however, one rogue program is less likely to lock up the entire system. The iPad itself experienced no slow-down and I was able to easily exit HotPaw Basic and restart it.

HotPaw automatically saves your current program in “tmp.bas”. You can also save it using the “save” command, load new ones using the “load” command, and view all programs using “dir”.

It does not support iCloud, which means that programs written on the iPad do not automatically transfer to the iPhone or other devices.

If you’re one of those people who look back fondly on BASIC, or if you have some BASIC programs you’d like to run on your iPhone or iPad, take a look at it. Most of the other BASIC languages I’m seeing on the app store are recreations of specific computers of the past, such as Commodore BASIC, or don’t even look like BASIC any more. Chipmunk Basic, while hardly modern, has been and continues to be updated for use today.

  1. <- Swift Apple
  2. Deciphering BASIC ->