Nearly two years ago, I wrote about Google’s App Inventor. Unfortunately, Google discontinued it in December of last year (though, happily, MIT now maintains it).
Recently, Google releasedBlockly, another visual programming editor. I found it pretty interesting, and it wasn’t too difficult to figure out how to use the tool itself. (Figuring out actual programming is another matter entirely, which is why I’m sure the program visually represented in this post’s lead image will look just awful to anyone who actually knows what she or he is doing with code. All I can say is, it works.)
The most difficult part for me turned out to be figuring out how to actually run Blockly. Fortunately, YouTube user Dennis Daniels (a.k.a. “pleabargain“) was able to help me out:
He was using Linux and I was using a Mac, but he was able to give me enough to go on. All I did was copy the line…
It might be the case that everyone doesn’t have to learn how to program, but I do think that, anymore, it’s the case that people should at least be familiar with the rudiments of programming, or at least scripting. Even if you’re never going to program something from scratch, it’s helpful to understand a little bit about the basic structures underpinning so much of our lives.
For people without any experience in programming, but with some curiosity and a few minutes to spare, Codecademy is a clever website that provides an interactive overview of basic programming concepts. You, too, can learn to say “Hello, world,” teach a website your name, learn about if-then statements, variables, and a few other fundamental ideas.
Each lesson looks the same–you get a short description of an idea or a method, and then an interactive box that lets you try it out immediately:
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