TI-Basic Developer History

This is the history of the site from the beginning as remembered by me. I have decided to write this down for posterity sake for those people interested in knowing about how the site came into being, and what the decision-making process was that has caused the site to exist as it does today. — burr, site founder

2006

Before there was any TI-Basic Developer, I had written a few small TI-Basic programming guides in 2004 and 2005: an optimization walkthrough, a debugging tutorial, and an optimization table (in that order). During the process of writing the guides, I was frequenting the forums on United-TI and Cemetech quite often, and one of the common requests was TI-Basic programming help.

Although people (including myself) would provide quality help, going out of their way to not only answer the questions but make the answers thorough and easy to understand, people would continue to ask the same questions over and over again. After a while of seeing this, I realized that it was simply futile to try to get people to use the forum search engine before starting a new topic because you are working against human nature.

So, I decided the only way to truly solve the problem was to create a TI-Basic programming guide that we could refer beginners and everybody else to. The focus of the guide would be to cover the main TI-Basic commands, while also organizing them into relevant categories based on their function. While there were existing guides that covered the commands, most of them were incomplete, often inaccurate, and generally just poor quality.

Before writing anything, I looked through several TI-Basic tutorials and guides that other people had written (especially BASIC Guru by Ben Ilegbodu and Basic Tutor by Kerm Martian) and some of the different TI forums (including the aforementioned United-TI and Cemetech, as well as Omnimaga and CalcGames). The greatest resource, though, was TI and their calculator manual, which was the starting point for much of the content.

Once a few of the command category pages had been written with all of the information about the commands included — a complete description, menu location, advanced uses, optimizations using before and after examples, and even sample programs that used the commands — the guide was shown to Weregoose and kalan_vod on IRC. Both of them were very receptive, and thought that it would be a valuable resource for beginning TI-Basic programmers upon its completion.

At the same time, they liked how in-depth the commands were covered, and suggested that the scope of the guide be changed to include all of the TI-Basic commands. While this sounded like a good idea, there were still over 300 commands left to cover, which was a considerable amount of work for one person to do by themselves. What they recommended was that a TI-Basic topic at the United-TI forums be started requesting help with the guide, and that's what was done.

Several people replied to the topic offering suggestions and help, but the problem was that they couldn't actually help with the guide, since it was just static HTML and hosted on a Freewebs account. Alexrudd suggested that the guide be placed on a wiki, which made a lot of sense given the success of Wikipedia at the time. The wiki service that was chosen was Wikispaces, after visiting axcho's sprites wiki hosted there.

A wiki was registered with the TI-Basic Developer name and tibasicdev subdomain, and all of the content from the guide was posted on it. Fallen Ghost, alexrudd, and Weregoose joined within the first couple of days, and there were several edits and a few new pages created. After about a week of using Wikispaces, it was decided that it wasn't very conducive to site growth: the design was rather awkward and hard to get used to, and it also lacked the more advanced wiki features and functionality.

After doing some research of what free wikis existed, Wikidot was found to be the best designed and most complete. Subsequently, a Wikidot wiki was registered with the TI-Basic Developer name and tibasicdev subdomain, and all of the content from the Wikispaces wiki was copied over. The Wikispaces wiki was then deleted, and all of links were changed to point to the new Wikidot wiki.

As with any new site, the overwhelming majority of edits and additions to TI-Basic Developer in the first few months were done entirely by me. There were minor edits here and there by other people, but it was nothing really substantial or newsworthy. Of course, not seeing anybody actively contributing can deflate a person's spirit, and that's precisely what happened.

I decided in early November to stop contributing to TI-Basic Developer, and moved on to other TI-Basic projects. I didn't want my lack of interest to doom any potential that the site might have, however, so I promoted alexrudd and DarkerLine to administrators: they were now able to do all of the admin-related things for the wiki that I had been doing.

2007

After checking back on TI-Basic Developer in early 2007, I was greatly surprised to discover that there was some new activity on the site: alexrudd started documenting some of the math commands in the Math menu and Harrierfalcon added some information to the variables page. At the same time, there was some new discussion going on in the United-TI topic associated with the site.

So, I decided to continue contributing to TI-Basic Developer myself, and started working on putting together some new content — a portability page documenting the TI-Basic differences between the calculators, and a usability page discussing ways to make TI-Basic programs more user-friendly. Once I was done with both of those pages, a new idea was proposed by DarkerLine: creating an individual page for each TI-Basic command, so that all of the relevant information about the command can be put on one page.

The idea was favorably accepted by everyone, as documenting all of the TI-Basic commands had been something that everyone wanted to do for a long time. Work then began on putting together a command template. After looking at WikiTI and Wikipedia, it was decided that each command page would include a sidebar, as well as an explanation of the command, sample uses, tricks and optimizations using the command, and related commands.

We then began taking the command info on each command category page, and placing it on its own page. After that was done, a command index was created and the remaining commands started being documented. This process was especially hastened by DarkerLine, who not only created a screenshot for each command, but also documented almost half of the commands himself.

While work on the command pages was going on, I and other people continued to create new pages on the site. However, there wasn't many new users, so to get some more user involvement, I started a topic on Cemetech advertising the site and requesting help. The response was mostly favorable, with a few people joining as a result, and it also started off a separate discussion about creating a TI-Basic book.

To be continued…

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