Leaving The Nest June 15th, 2015
When I was a kid, every home computer came with BASIC. You'd turn it on and there it would be, staring back at you - a BASIC prompt. It'd flash at you until you learnt how to answer it.
This wasn't just some optional toy you could investigate if you wanted. In order to even do anything with your computer, you had to at least know the BASIC commands to load a program off tape and run it.
As you gained experience, you'd start to feel the limitations of the language. It wasn't fast enough, it wasn't powerful enough, it wasn't expressive enough. At which point it was time for the training wheels to come off.
All 8-bit BASICs let you escape them once you'd learnt enough. You could start to learn assembly language, and outgrow the sandbox that had been made for you. One call to a special command would release your machine code free from its BASIC cradle, and the full power of the computer became yours.
We hold in our hands the most important software platform ever made, yet we clip it's wings to stop it leaving the nest. We need a better web platform to guide the next generation - not one that keeps you in, but one that lets you out.
Two days later(!) WebAssembly was announced. It certainly looks like a step in the right direction. Let's hope it succeeds.
Written by Richard Mitton,
software engineer and travelling wizard.
Follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/grumpygiant