Mac Looking for simple BASIC IDE


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 5, 2004
Hey Geniuses,

I am teaching a high school BASIC unit next semester and am looking for a simple BASIC IDE which will work in both a Windoze and OSX environment. The idea is that students can download and install it at home, so it must be free and easy to install and use. I checked out Extreme Basic but it required me to install Developer Tools, so that's out. Anybody have any other suggestions?

My dream is VisualBasic Express for OSX, like THAT will ever happen...:D




macrumors member
May 14, 2004
There don't seem to be a lot of options. Maybe this is helpful:

It will not pass the simplicity test by a long shot and would be for Visual Basic .NET but if you get stuck and free is more important than simple you could try MonoDevelop:

It can be built for both Windows and OS X although the OS X instructions will be far beyond the capability of students learning basic and it looks from the screenshots like they'll need X11 installed (along with Mono.) Maybe you could build the packages and distribute an installer.

Another not-so-elegant solution would be to pick an IDE that will run on Linux and have your students run it in a virtual environment for instance using Q and QEMU. You could distribute virtual machines with everything pre-configured.


macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
mckeek said:
I checked out Extreme Basic but it required me to install Developer Tools, so that's out. Anybody have any other suggestions?
You normally need the developer tools for programming, why not just install them (they are free after all)? They hide away in /Developer so normal users don't even need to know that they are there.


macrumors member
Sep 8, 2006
Ashland, OR, USA
mckeek said:
Hey Geniuses,

I am teaching a high school BASIC unit next semester and am looking for a simple BASIC IDE which will work in both a Windoze and OSX environment. The idea is that students can download and install it at home, so it must be free and easy to install and use. I checked out Extreme Basic but it required me to install Developer Tools, so that's out. Anybody have any other suggestions?

My dream is VisualBasic Express for OSX, like THAT will ever happen...:D


RealBasic may be what you want. However, VisualBasic.NET is pretty good (particularly compared to VB6 and earlier) and powerful. Eventually you will be able to use it well with OS X through mono, but right now VB support is very much in development. If you want an old style Dartmouth basic with line numbers and all, Chipmunk basic exists.


macrumors 601
Mar 20, 2005
You can download DOSBOX and run Microsoft QBASIC in it either on OS X (PPC or Intel), or Windows.


macrumors newbie
Oct 9, 2012
In macosx, the oldest and most mature dialect is chipmunkbasic. You can always use XCode IDE for chipmunkbasic, and use cocoa and gtk gui toolkits. However, there is no other Chipmunkbasic IDE and one had to confine into simple basic requirements, to usually learning purposes. Chipmunkbasic-cocoa boilerplate code, and any carbon and cocoa (and gnustep) based applications of any programming languages can be embedded with applescript. But now a days, we can also embed scriptbasic into chipmunkbasic-gtk boilerplate code and this is good news if your requirements are more than that. Then there is proprietary objectivebasic which uses cocoa gui api in macosx (objectivebasic-cocoa also known as cocoabasic), which also has a gpl version under linux known as objectivebasic-gnustep (gnustep gui api), for both of which we can use to embed applescript code. Like XCode, there is another ide known as applescript studio which you can use for chipmunkbasic-cocoa, objectivebasic-cocoa, and other carbon and cocoa (and gnustep) based programming languages, but I find XCode more easier to understand and use than applescript studio. Then mono has both gtk# and cocoa# for both mono-basic and mono-csharp. So scriptbasic with chipmunkbasic-gtk, applescript with objectivebasic-gnustep and mono with gtk# and cocoa# and also gbs3 with gambas-gbqt are the newly available options apart from the already existing option of applescript with objectivebasic-cocoa/carbon and chipmunkbasic-cocoa/carbon. Then yet another one left out is the platform independent wxbasic, which can do for simple demo programs, but I don't know how it can be used for requirements more than that (or wait till scribawx support gets added into scriptbasic or wait for development of fbwx-freebasic-simplewebserver module + documentation of freebasic-curl(c) module; and similarly gbqt-gambas-gbs3-scripter engine for embedding into kbasic-qt boilerplate code). Gambas has almost developed its cocoa gui toolkit, whereas scriptbasic and freebasic are also following with their own port for cocoa. Out of these, scriba-cocoa may also depend on an extra toolkit known as cocoa-server, which in turn needs to be written in applesript (instead of awk) and made extendable to the cocoa-apps of all remaining programming languages such as scriptbasic and others.

If you are looking for platform-independent opensource basic then:

Scriptbasic, freebasic (and wxFBE IDE) and yabasic can be downloaded as source code and compiled under gcc and then installed. For IDE's other then wxFBE, such as FBIde, FBEdit YabEdit, etc you should use the q4wine (frontend to wine/xwine) to run the win32 applications in *nix type os.

For coding use geany ide for freebasic, and for designing use glade designer with gtk2 as the main gui toolkit.
In case of scriptbasic and yabasic, the available options are emacs, gvim and eclipse (japi); also you should install not only gtk2 gui toolkit, but also gtk-server toolkit too (unlike freebasic), as without the gtk-server, the gui for scriptbasic and yabasic will not work. Regading the editor-cum-ide to use in macosx, for emacs backend there are both aqua-emacs (macosx-specific) and gnu-emacs (all os; xemacs for windows) frontends, and for vim backend in all os, there is cream frontend -- an alternative other than gvim frontend.

Another option is to use wxFBE IDE for freebasic coding and wxglade designer for designing, with wx as the alternative gui toolkit for freebasic. Freebasic is often being compared with powerbasic, and in fact freebasic was also mentioned as the best basic the earth has ever seen (however scriptbasic's name was missing in the comparison of dialects, but some others were referred; but then what was missing is how to use freebasic-curl and freebasic-simplewebserver as proxy server engine behind apache2 using the modproxy and modrewrite engines and eventually the freebasic server pages; however documentation remains excellent and second-best next only to scriptbasic for most of the modules except curl and web). There is also wx for scriptbasic known as scribawx, is however in alpha stage of development and may take some time, due to additional chain dependencies on wx-server and wxgtk-server/wxcocoa-server apart from the existing wx and wxgtk/wxcocoa (as in fbwx). This would mean wxbasic usage have to either wait for the six chain dependencies of scribawx (of both wxgtk and wxcocoa) or freebasic's curl and proxyserver, or wx port of applescript, or wait for a totally new rewrite of an embedded basic such as obasic (openbasic) which would not need such chain dependencies, not become too much varied from each other and at the same time have compatibility with almost all traditional basic dialects.

A third alternative gui toolkit is fltk which is reportedly under consideration for yabasic (flyab) (and a scriba-fltk is also likely) but not yet available as on now, and like sribawx, flyab is also in alpha stage of development and may also take some time, and some kind of additional toolkit other than fltk such as fltk-server (written in awk), plus much more chain-dependencies, etc may also likely result.

If you are looking for webscripting option faster than simple cgi then scriptbasic is the best one using Eszter Engine (sbhttpd), plus a well documented curl-based programs, and there are developed some programs which embed scriptbasic into other basic dialects such as freebasic, yabasic and chipmunkbasic to make available features such as eszter engine framework, others, etc. Java's Maven-framework (an 'sbtomcat-engine' supporting sb4j (scriptbasic for java or 'jscriptbasic') module of ant) is another point to add. Scriptbasic appears to be designed as versatile as python/perl/ruby, and developed in a similar approach and maybe some one may come up with even more gcc-stack-integration and thus a way for using it with Emacs, GVim, and Eclipse. Moreover, they also have a future plan for a scriptbasic-gtk2 based ide which is very much awaited, but the steep learning curve of understanding gtk-server-macro definitions and scriba-gtk2 makes this step appear as time consuming and thus may probably take some time to make this big awaited news.

Then there is also java api support as gui (japi) for scriptbasic, yabasic and jbasic. Thus we can use these for maven framework, by embedding jscriptbasic into scriptbasic, yabasic and jbasic respectively. On the other hand although there are many dialects supporting win32 gui toolkit (but not wpf gui toolkit yet except smallbasic and, then apart from for embedding, there is also an embeddable ajbasic-engine framework supporting traditional basic which can be developed and made addable into dotnet's (and mono's) nant module. Ajbasic, is written in with a csharp-like syntax, like sb4j is written in java with java-like syntax, and it would be good thing to learn if ajbasic can be made embeddable into smallbasic, etc.

If you are specific for something close to vb6 and/or usage with qt4/gtk2 gui toolkit then there is gambas, which can run in linux, but plans to be cross-platform in future. Moreover, like scriptbasic, gambas also has a devloped curl and gambas-gbs3 scripting web engine, only awaited to be more documented for its gambas server pages later on. For working with vb6 like dialect into java-api interface there is jabaco which works in all three os and can also be made usable with maven-framework, by embedding sb4j (jscriptbasic) into jabaco (and possibly also gambas in future).

But if it should be like, then mono-basic mbas is the option.

Bwbasic is for linux and freebsd only, with sdl and svga-x11 as gui as the available options. If you are looking for basic with tk gui toolkit there is glbasic which works in all three os.

Thus the good thing is that both traditional basic and vb basic can now run in all platforms and frameworks (and also all gui apis, except the fltk (other than flyab) and fox toolkit, which even many other compilers and interpreters also do not support at the moment), but the shortcoming is they are fragmented and interconversion and reusability of one into other is an area which needs to be (but can be) addressed and developed in the future.

So, if you are looking for complete option, then freebasic and scriptbasic, or rather go for both and embed scriptbasic into freebasic boilerplate code (since both are leading traditional basic dialects and have both developed a very long way in their own development routes), it is unrealistic to wait for the development of yabhttpd (yabasic3), cbashttpd, wxbashttpd, etc; but then then there is newly coming up obasic (openbasic) which is being developed as an alternative embeddable server-side type hybridized dialect, but however i guess that equalling scriptbasic is a very long journey; gambas and freebasic however also aim to have their own in this area too in the form of gbs3 gambas scripter and fbc-simplewebserver respectively (except for no documentation regarding freebasic-curl(c) usage (there exists an alpha-stage development of libcurl (curl.c, curl.h and together or alternatively curl.bas and together; however a c expert should be able to create these and make freebasic fully usable) includable in the form of header file, which would then be made usable by calling 'include' and then use it in freebasic, and also use its fbc-simplewebserver too); but gambas-curl is already developed and in process of being documented too, and the corresponding gambas-server-pages and gbqt are all almost done unlike freebasic server pages; but executable-packaging, gbgtk and also documentation for other modules lag behind)). But if you are looking for basic for beginners, then yabasic3 and chipmunkbasic. So, until more requisite future development happens my view is to look for using both freebasic and scriptbasic together. Learning of second dialect should take much less time than the first one, and bulk of the time would be in the gui toolkit (mono-gtk#, mono-qyoto, mono-cocoa#, mono-wxnet, mono-winforms (wpf), fbgtk, fb-win32, fbwx, gbgtk, gbqt, scriba-gtk2, scriba-win32, scriba-japi, scribawx, yab-gtk2, flyab, yab-win32, yab-japi, cbasgtk, cbas-cocoa, cbas-win32, objectivebasic-cocoa, objectivebasic-gnustep, jabaco-japi, jbasic-japi, vb6-win32,,,,, smallbasic-wpf, glbasic-tk, wxbasic-wx, etc) since the coding mutually differs for each dialect only in this area (except the pair of scriba-gtk2 and yab-gtk2 which have identical gui coding via gtk-server-macro definitions, whereas fbgtk is almost like c-gtk+ and thus easy, so becoming familiar with these especially gtk+(c), gtk-server-macro definitions and scriba-gtk2, is the key), but if oops (t module) is used then gui toolkit programming for scriptbasic(/yabasic) should look simpler like those of python/ruby/perl/freebasic. Thus, go with either fbgtk with wxFBE/geany ide, scriptbasic embedding code and rest of scriptbasic code, or scriptbasic-only with emacs/gvim ide, gtk-server-macro definitions, and scriba-gtk2, or still other way is maven-sb4j, ajbasic or applescript or openbasic routes (but fortunately there are several examples for scriba-gtk2 and c-gtk2 (for fbgtk) available) -- in both cases, there is a steep learning curve unlike what traditional basic seems at a first glance.
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macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2003
Silicon Valley

If you just need a simple basic BASIC interpreter, here's another vote for Chipmunk Basic. I've used it on both Macs and Windows PCs. HotPaw Basic for the iPad appears to use a nearly identical dialect of the BASIC language as Chipmunk as well.


macrumors 68040
Jan 10, 2005
Dallas, TX
Unfortunately the OP asked this over 6 years ago, so responses, even detailed ones, are unlikely to be read.



macrumors 6502a
Feb 18, 2008
Unfortunately the OP asked this over 6 years ago, so responses, even detailed ones, are unlikely to be read.

I'm just amazed he was still teaching BASIC, even six years ago... terrible thing to do to a youngster.