Improving Blocks with Keyboard Support

The Blocks and Beyond workshop will take place in Atlanta on October 22. It’s shaping up to be an interesting workshop, based around discussion of the submitted papers. Our own contribution is a position paper, entitled “Lack of Keyboard Support Cripples Block-Based Programming“. It’s a brief summary of the design philosophy which has informed our design of Greenfoot 3 (which we’re busy working on): the mouse-centric nature of existing block-based programming systems (Scratch, Snap!, etc) hampers their ability to scale up to larger programs, which in turn puts a ceiling on their use. Our gambit is that if we can remove this restriction, there might no longer be any reason to switch back to using text-based programming languages.

Greenfoot 3 Editor
The Greenfoot 3 Editor — public preview available

The paper (accepted version, copyright IEEE) is freely available, and only 3 pages, so rather than reproduce the full argument here, I suggest you take a look at the paper — and if you want to discuss it, or see similar work, then why not attend Blocks and Beyond?

2 thoughts on “Improving Blocks with Keyboard Support

  1. Hi Neil,
    Thanks for creating such a wonderful new editor! As a newbie who wants to move up to be a better programmer, I have two questions about using frame-based editor:
    > 1. in the end of the Position paper, you mentioned this editor is too difficult to use for intermediate and advanced programmer, what does it mean for newbie who wants to move up a level?
    > 2. Can this new editor do everything what traditional greenfoot editor has achieved so far? If so, what is the limitation of using greenfoot new editor for a learner who want to go up to intermediate or advanced level?
    Thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Kenny,

      What we are saying at the end of the paper is that existing blocks-based editors are awkward for more advanced programmers. We are suggesting that our new editor will be a better step for more advanced programmers. The Stride language is a slight subset of Java, but you can do almost everything that Java can. It’s new so we’re still figuring out the limitations, but our hope is that there will be no limitations compared to Java. We’ll see what users make of it!

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