VSJ – March 2006 – Sounding Board

Robin Jones discovers KPL

Serendipity is a word that might have been invented for the Internet. Searching, the other day, for some material on an elderly AI language called KRL (Knowledge Representation Language) I accidentally typed ‘KPL’ and was introduced to the Kid’s Programming Language.

As you might expect, this is a sawn-off version of a standard (but modern) procedural language with a simple but perfectly serviceable integrated development environment. As someone who is philosophically drawn to the general concept ‘simple but serviceable’ I was immediately attracted to it, especially when I noticed that the IDE allows for automatic translation of the generated code both to C# and VB.NET. There are just 21 keywords and only two code block types – functions and methods. That’s one too many in my book but we’ll let that pass. Data types are pretty conventional, although Version 1 only supports one-dimensional arrays. Higher order arrays are promised for the next release. However, user-defined structures are already implemented using the familiar dot notation.

A fairly comprehensive set of library functions and methods is included. In particular, there are thirty or so sprite-handling routines, allowing the tyro programmer to do some quite powerful things with screen displays.

KPL is freeware and is developed and supported by Morrison Schwartz Inc. If you have a son or daughter interested in writing some code of his or her own, it seems to me to be a pretty good place to start. You can download it from www.kidsprogramminglanguage.com.

[Something you’d like to get off your chest? Email me (Robin Jones) at eo@iap.org.uk.]

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