Thursday, August 31, 2006

Kid's Programming Language Reloaded: Phrogram

Less than a year ago I wrote a very short entry about KPL. Today I got an email from Jon Schwarz thanking me for the link and updating me on their progress. It is very impressive: they have made a fantastic playground for the programmers of tomorrow. I recommend that you take a look at the demo page for the new look language Phrogram.

What I liked about the demos that ship with Phrogram is the familiarity. Many of the programs I wrote (or tried to write) whilst learning to code are there: Conway's Life, 3D wireframe models, Mandelbrots, and mechanical simulators.

In my previous post I didn't express how important things like this are. When I was a child of the home-computer revolution, everybody I knew could write a "program" - even if just printed "Rupert is Cool!" on every screen in WH Smiths. This was because home computers not only came with a BASIC interpreter, but also booted up ready for programming. Times have changes and usability improvements have compromised access to programming languages. Phrogram and the KPL intitiative is an admirable (and effective) attempt to address this loss.

This matters for two reasons:
  1. Industry needs good programmers, and the only way to get good is to practice.
  2. Programming is a great pleasure; this is rarely understood by non-programmers.

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