Tag Archives: ns app studio

Back to BASIC with NS App Studio for mobile

I was intrigued to discover NS Basic/App Studio, which offers a simple Windows IDE targeting iPhone and Android mobile devices.


It is all a bit retro, especially when you discover that the company (NS Basic Corporation) has the leading Basic on the … Apple Newton.

Still, something like Visual Basic for iPhone and Android sounds interesting. Does this thing deliver?

I tried the demo. What NS App Studio actually does is to translate Basic code to JavaScript, so the end result is a web application targeting mobile browsers, rather than a mobile app. There is a bit more to it though. Apps have access to local storage including SQLite databases, since this is available to the WebKit-based browsers on iPhone and Android. You can create a shortcut to a web app and even run it offline, making it behave somewhat like a locally installed app. Further, the FAQ notes that you can wrap your web app with PhoneGap to create an app that you can distribute through the App Store or Android Market; and this or similar capability may eventually be included in the IDE.

The question though: why would you choose to use Basic rather than just learning JavaScript? I can make sense of the Google Web Toolkit, which compiles Java to JavaScript, but Google’s effort is more sophisticated. You are not expected to puzzle out the generated JavaScript, but just work in Java. By contrast, with NS App Studio you code in Basic but debug in JavaScript, with all sorts of potential for confusion.

I got the impression that the product is not yet mature. I changed the name of the form in my Hello World project, for example, but found generated code that still referred to the old name, causing a JavaScript error. I found it confusing that the property listed as “text” in the visual grid was “textContent” in code. The IDE is very simple, but also very lacking in features. Most developers would find a modern JavaScript IDE more productive.

Nevertheless it is interesting as a proof of concept, and shows the capability of these mobile browsers as a pre-installed application runtime.