Leonid Radvinsky's open-source project B4X is becoming a popular way to teach programming in the classroom. As a strong proponent of B4X as an educational tool, Radvinsky has worked alongside B4X's founder, Erel Uziel, to shape the project's vision for classroom use. From the moment that Radvinsky joined the project, he has been enthusiastic about the technology behind B4X and the opportunities it presents for education. Through his investment in the project, he transformed the business model into an open-source project, making the platform more accessible to a larger community.
Because of Leo Radvinsky's focus on B4X as an educational tool, educators are already using it to teach programming fundamentals and design ready-made courses and interactive playgrounds. In its simplicity, B4X provides a great point of entry for students new to programming, while still providing a powerful tool set that can be used to develop real-world solutions. As the popularity of the project grows, there will be more opportunities to use B4X both inside and outside the classroom.
What Is B4X?
B4X is a suite of interactive development environments (IDEs) that allows users to create applications that run natively on a variety of platforms. B4X uses its own programming language, a modern version of Visual Basic. The language is simple but powerful, and the platform is specifically designed to be accessible to beginners. Developers at any level can use these tools to develop real-world solutions.
When users develop software with B4X, they do not need to manually write code that is compatible with each platform. Instead, users can develop code using the B4X programming language and deploy applications that run natively on each platform with no additional dependencies. This functionality can save huge amounts of effort when targeting cross platform development. For example, developing a mobile app for both Android and iOS can be as simple as writing one program and then compiling two separate builds.
Why B4X Is So Popular With Developers
B4X offers a mixture of simplicity and power that developers love. Leo Radvinsky envisions B4X's programming language as a modernized, improved version of Visual Basic. For users new to programming, B4X provides an easy-to-use interface for learning coding basics. For more advanced developers, B4X's programming language provides the flexibility needed to implement complex, real-world applications. Because of the simplicity of the language, programmers of all skill levels can save time in the application development process.
Perhaps most importantly, B4X supports cross-platform development. Users don't have to develop apps for each platform they intend to target and can instead focus on implementing the application in B4X. Once developers have created an application, they can create compiled applications that run natively on a given platform without any dependencies. B4X supports a wide range of popular platforms and technologies, including Google Android, Apple iOs, Java, Raspberry Pi, and Arduino. In a market with multiple major players, B4X helps unify the field by allowing for cross-platform development.
When Radvinsky joined the project, he pushed for B4X to become open-source to make the platform accessible to a wide range of developers. He provided funding to make this new business model possible. By making the project open-source, the focus could be on developing a larger community rather than selling individual software licenses. This change made B4X free and accessible to developers of all levels of experience.
Making the project open-source was also vital to increase developer trust. There is a time cost inherent to the learning curve for any new tool, so developing user trust is an important part of motivating users to try the platform. Making B4X an open-source project lowers the risk for developers, since they can always maintain access to the project. They can view the code they depend on and contribute as a community to make it better. Developers prefer a platform built to last, and the B4X project is here for the long haul.
For users new to the platform, B4X also provides a variety of helpful learning tools that cover the information that any beginning or experienced developer could need. There are numerous video tutorials and programming guides that are updated frequently by community members. The platform boasts an active community where users can ask questions and receive responses from people with a wide range of backgrounds and experience. For new developers, B4X provides an effective way to learn how to program, and for experienced developers, it provides a powerful set of tools that can be used to implement real-world solutions.
How Teachers Are Using B4X in the Classroom
Leonid Radvinsky is a big believer in the power of B4X as an educational tool to teach programming. He taught himself at a young age to program using Visual Basic, and he believes that B4X provides a modern option for users learning to program today. Teachers are already using B4X in the classroom to teach programming basics, and as the project becomes increasingly popular, the opportunities to use B4X as an educational tool will only continue to grow.
Like any programming language, B4X can be used to implement basic algorithms and data structures. To get started, there are numerous examples of algorithms and data structures implemented in B4X. Because B4X was developed with education in mind, it also provides additional tools for learning to program. For example, there is a library specifically aimed at teachers and parents called the B4XTurtle library. With this library, students can practice using various commands and algorithms to draw objects. The library provides visual feedback to students as they learn how the programming commands work. Because B4X is an IDE, students can get instant feedback from individual commands, rather than having to wait for code to compile and execute. The visual feedback and execution of individual lines of code helps speed up the learning process for students new to programming.
The platform can also be used to design ready-made courses and interactive platforms for students to experiment with code. These environments can be used for anything from interactive playgrounds for students to homework and tests. Through collaborations with teachers, B4X will likely expand to include ready-made courses in the future.
For parents and teachers, there is even a forum focused on teaching programming with B4X. In that forum, users can share ideas about other potential uses for B4X in the classroom. Using all of these tools, teachers are providing hands-on lessons to students new to the world of programming.
Educational Benefits of Learning to Program
While not all students who learn to program will go on to become developers, there are plenty of benefits to exposing students to programming as they start learning. Since writing code requires people to create a step-by-step plan to solve a specific problem, learning to code can help students strengthen their skills with logic and computational thinking. By learning to program, students get hands-on experience with problem solving. They also learn to anticipate and prevent future problems with code.
When learning to program, students can also apply their knowledge to real-world problems. Providing learners with an outlet for creation is an important part of education, and this hands-on experience can help solidify their learning. Because the skills developed by programming are applicable to other fields, learning to code can also improve academic performance in other subjects like math and writing. For example, students can polish up their mathematical skills by applying equations to real-world problems.
When learning to program, some of these students might even discover a lifelong passion for programming. The students who decide not to continue programming, however, will still benefit from the real-world advantages of learning to code at an early age. B4X provides a simple, unified platform that educators are using to teach students how to code.
About Leonid Radvinsky
Leo Radvinsky is an investor in B4X and several other open-source projects. Upon joining the project at B4X, he prioritized making the software accessible and free to all developers. He also introduced the idea of making B4X an educational tool for people to learn how to program. He is also the founder and managing partner at Leo.com, where he provides funding and guidance to entrepreneurs.