Scratching the surface of coding

I am playing with my children with Scratch, the famous graphical intuitive programming language from MIT and I must say that I am impressed. First, impressed by the quality of the interface and the capabilities of the language. Second, impressed by how fast it helps children to learn the programming patterns of visual, event-driven languages. I mean, when you are able to code in Scratch, you are basically able to code in Labview. It is why hardware manufacturer starts to use similar types of language to set up their hardware (see for instance the redpitaya).

What makes attractive, in addition to its intuitive approach of programming structures like events and loops, is its library of sprites, backgrounds and sounds, which avoids to create them and to directly focus on their interaction.

OK, it is a language for learning and it may be painful in the end to move icons to create mathematical expressions. But, again, it does not disturb thousands of Labview developers who do that on far more complex architectures. I am not a big fan of these graphical methods for professional development (try to check your code when you do not have a 20 inches screen with Labview installed) but it is totally funny to help children to learn. So, I recommend it warmly.

It is available on the Raspberry Pi with direct manipulation of the GPIO signals, which opens the access to the real, physical world. And it is really fascinating to see how the children (and I) enjoy to see the LED blink when the ball hit the wall in our improvised Pong. However, the interface is not yet polished: the signals are accessed through broadcasted messages and have complicated names (try to explain to a non english-speaking child what gpio10off means!). But I am pretty sure that it is a question of months before we get an interface naturally integrated in Scratch.

To conclude, if you want to become a Labview developer and do not know how to code yet, start with Scratch.


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