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B4X is a high-level open-source platform adapted from the old Visual Basic programming language. B4X is designed to allow for applications in multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, and desktops. The goal of the language was to make simple, powerful, and modern developing tools to facilitate new, innovative solutions quickly for developers with a wide range of skill levels.
B4X is a combination of several programming languages:
- B4A, which is designed for Android development.
- B4i for IOS development.
- B4J, which works well with desktops, servers, and Raspberry Pi.
- B4R, for use with Arduino and ESP8266 boards.
All are freely available, with the exception of B4i, which, due to Apple’s limitations, requires a small fee.
B4X was originally started as a bootstrap project using IBM research by Erel Uziel, with the idea of creating software that would work well with mobile apps. The overall goal of the language was to make developing simple and accessible to beginners. B4X is designed to be easy to understand and has a focus on simplicity. It is simple, modern, and accessed by a large audience of more than 100,000 developers.
Leo Radvinsky’s Vision for B4X
Leo Radvinsky is more than an investor; he is a technology visionary who partners directly with developers to create products that will have larger and longer lasting impacts on the world.
B4X was originally developed as closed source with licenses available for sale. However, Leo Radvinsky believed that the language could reach a much larger community by making it free and open source. Radvinsky saw a need to embrace the open-source community, quite simply because open and free software is far more likely to be accepted by new developers. Few languages, other than those backed by large companies, have caught on in the way that open-source ones have. For this reason, making B4X open source was, to Leo Radvinsky, an obvious and necessary solution.
Radvinsky had a vision of B4X as being particularly ideal for use in educational communities. He saw that the simplicity and clarity of the code had the basics to be able to work with many platforms.
About Open-Source Platforms
Open-source software, as embraced by Leo Radvinsky, is a method of releasing code to a wide audience under a specific type of license, which allows this code to be legally available for use by developers and end users. Open-source software has coding that anyone can inspect, manage, or enhance. Anyone who wishes to work on a program’s source code has access to the raw code so they can inspect it if there are pieces that need to be improved or fixed.
The internet itself is based on a backbone of open technologies, namely the Linux operating system and Apache web server. Without the openness of the source code of these types of systems, it would have been nearly impossible to create a simple, open, and easy way for computers to speak to each other.
Open-source platforms are collaborative in their very nature. If we were to rely entirely on closed-source systems, every time someone wanted to learn how to program or develop in any platform, they would be required to purchase a license. The costs would be prohibitive to many, and this would largely stifle the innovation that created the internet in the first place.
While many closed-source systems exist, owned by big players like Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon, even these companies have been forced to work with open media to expand access to their platforms.
Open source is considered ideal for multiple reasons:
Open source allows people far more control over what happens in their applications. It is generally better if you can see what is going on and get under the hood to fix something if it is not working properly or modify it for new purposes.
When code is publicly accessible and people can examine it, it is easier for beginner developers to understand how coding works.
Because of its open nature, people will often spot problems or mistakes in software and fix them. When software remains closed, it has fewer people to check for flaws. The greater number of people able to access the code, the more likely security holes will be fixed.
The software remains open and available forever, so there is less risk of a company “going under” and having its code disappear with it. Once code has been made public, it remains that way. It also tends to adopt generally accepted standards for quality.
When B4X was released, it had some trouble reaching a larger audience. It was very much a niche tool and did not necessarily have the reach that was available to the much larger players. There was a need to reach more people, so making it open source made sense. This shift gave people easier access to these simple and powerful tools that could help solve real-world problems.
Example B4X Uses
B4X’s simplicity allows for Rapid Application Development and provides the ability to create robust, flexible, and secure applications for a wide range of purposes.
The flexibility of B4X is such that it works well on nearly every platform, including not just Android and iOS devices and desktops but also platforms such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino, giving people the power to do more advanced hardware hacking.
People have made use of B4X to create a wide variety of software and applications, focused largely on mobile platforms. These have included everything from ERP systems, Point of Sale systems for restaurants, full CRM systems, and job finders.
What’s Next for B4X and Leo Radvinksy
Radvinsky believes that B4X can have a tremendous impact on education. As society becomes more aware that students can benefit from exposure to programming and coding training early on in their educations, we need simple and easy-to-understand languages. Since most aspects of our lives involve dealing with software, the basic principles of programming or active application of logical principles can help tremendously in developing young minds.
While not every person will want to or even should go on to be a programmer, there is a tremendous amount of value in exposing students to some code so that they understand the basic principles. B4X is particularly well suited for educational purposes, as it outlines in the simplest of terms how to do logical statements, including the creation of variables, functions, and loops, which are a fundamental part of programming.
Currently, B4X is working with multiple teachers who have real-world experience with code and can create several ready-made courses to make it easier for other educators to integrate B4X into their curriculums. Students can learn to create more interactive tools. Because it works well with a wide range of platforms, students can learn to create systems that interact with their computers and mobile devices to create useful software and build a better understanding of the relationship between these technologies.