[Edu-sig] Visual Programming in Python?

Jeff Sandys jpsandys at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 19 21:15:47 CEST 2006

Kirby said:
> So this isn't Logo, but it's probably where we're headed with 
> the turtle stuff:
> t1 = Turtle()
> t1.forward(10)
> I can imagine a big commercial company contributing a colorful
> professional grade edition to the education community, via GNU 
> or whatever.  Making the syntax consistently Pythonic would be 
> an attractive feature (implement bindings for both Python *and*
> traditional Logo why not?).

Thank you, Kirby, for expressing this.  While PyLogo is an 
interesting and valuable experiment, I don't think that it will 
contribute to introductory Python programming education.  I love 
Logo syntax and enjoy teaching Logo to Middle school students.
I wouldn't use PyLogo when teaching Python.
What I would like to see in a turtle environment comes from 
StarLogo ( http://education.mit.edu/starlogo/ ).  StarLogo has 
multiple turtles, the turtles can inherit methods to make new 
turtle classes, and the background also has methods for its cells, 
implementing Conway's Life only takes several lines.  The Santa 
Fe Institute uses StarLogo to teach non-programmers sophisticated 
behavior and business simulations.

I think that creating a StarPython, with Python syntax, would be 
a more valuable effort that forcing Python to resemble Logo.

Python would be easier to teach if it had clearer error messages. 
Most Logo error messages lead the programmer to the solution for 
the bug.  I would like to see an IDE that had Doctest and maybe 
profile as a button in the menu bar.

Another advanced Logo is Elica ( http://www.elica.net/ ).  Elica 
has 3D geometry, a nice object browser and abandons the Logo like 
Ask and Tell object syntax for Python like dot notation.  Elica 
architecture allows linking other programs.  I imagine a close 
integration of Python and Elica ( Pelican ? ) but this is beyond 
my programming abilities.

Kirby, where is your final Shuttleworth report?  Did you get 
anything out of it?  I liked your XP idea of piloting many ideas.  
Do you think they will create a successful curriculum in 3 years?

Jeff Sandys

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