The design and prototyping of a development environment, called BALI, for a small robot, viz., the MIT 6.270 robot, is presented in this paper. BALI is being developed and used for research work using a 6.270-based robot. Building on the experience with IC (interactive-C) for programming the 6.270 robot and new technologies like Java, a more powerful and low cost robot development environment is possible. The goal of BALI is to provide a flexible, customizable, and extensible development environment so that robot researchers can quickly tailor BALI to their robots. Given that the 6.270 robot is really a building kit made up of LEGO blocks (or similar kinds of physical building blocks), the 68HC11-based motherboard, and a variety of sensors, BALI cannot be specially built for one 'instance' of the 6.270 robot. Rather the guiding principles for building BALI should be to provide the GUI (graphical user interface) 'primitives' from which one can assemble and build his or her development environment. Thus GUI primitives for displaying status information, sensor readings, robot orientation, and environment maps must be provided. Much of these primitives are already provided in Java. It is the robot-specific ones that have to be developed for BALI. The Java- like language that forms the core of BALI is the main focus of this paper.