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MIT App Inventor Back Online

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the getting-the-band-back-together dept.

Android 55

mikejuk writes "If you have been missing App Inventor, you'll be relieved to learn that it is now available again — albeit still in beta. After two months, MIT has managed to open the beta program and users can once again create App Inventor Android programs. However, you still need a Google ID to sign in, and among the known issues is the problem that MIT App Inventor cannot load projects that are as large as those supported by the Google version. It also reports that some projects have loaded with missing blocks. While the world seems to be intent on making a fuss about the educational impact of cheap hardware like Raspberry Pi, really valuable tools that could produce a new generation of programmers such as App Inventor don't seem to get the headlines or the concern due when they go missing for months."

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Why Google cancels all their projects (-1, Offtopic)

ProgrammerJulia (2589195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258473)

99% percent of Google's revenue is derived from its advertising programs [wikipedia.org] . Their main products are fully closed source and proprietary. They provide software as a service and cloud hosting, and that is what they're always going to do. It's what most slashdotters hate, but not when it's about Google.

Is it because they offer something for "free"? Their contributions to open source are minimal at best. In fact, their contributions towards open source hurt open source and web standards. Google is by far the only company still fighting against H.264 (the better product) because they have a competing product they would like to see more use for. They are so desperate to get into the social network spying game that they actually made it required to make Google+ profile when you're creating new Google account.

Put it other way, they will continue closing services that didn't turn into immediate profit. They will continue to buy out firms just to close them down the line. Sometimes they buy them because the idea might be good or for some business reason (like Google Earth, Android and YouTube), but many times they also buy out competitors because they would be a good competitor to Google and they don't want that to happen.

Remember that Google's "low, shitty guidelines and standards" advertising side arm is called DoubleClick [wikipedia.org] , which certainly has a "funny" history.

Re:Why Google cancels all their projects (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39258559)

Wow, 230 words per minute, that's a new world record! And you even had time to find links and format your text.

Re:Why Google cancels all their projects (1, Offtopic)

fredprado (2569351) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258629)

Everything in the universe is relative. There is no virtuous big company in this world, but compared to the others, despite all its wrongdoings, Google is still the least harmful of all. That and the fact it more often than not makes the lives of the other, more hateful companies, harder, is why Google is so loved.

Re:Why Google cancels all their projects (4, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258635)

Their contributions to open source are minimal at best.

the NoSQL projects would be so far behind without Google LevelDB (derived from BigTable). The entire Android OS was open sourced, a contribution the likes of which we haven't seen since Linux. V8 Javascript engine, funding Firefox, even after the release of Chrome, this is just the stuff I can name off the top of my head. Google's business depends on open source and unlike other companies we could name, they give back more then they take out.

their contributions towards open source hurt open source and web standards.

You have that backwards, Google are the only one's not trying to shoehorn "standards" into a propratary solution. WebM is the perfect example of this, H.264 is restricted, if you wish to use H.264 to produce or publish content, you need to pay MPEG-LA for the rights to do so. Just because H.264 is free on Windows (meaning Microsoft paid for the license to use it) doesn't make it open source.

Put it other way, they will continue closing services that didn't turn into immediate profit.

Actually, they give services a good go. They keep what works, dump what doesn't. They're a business and this isn't evil, it's sensible, even adventurous for a business.

As a business, Google are trying desperately do diversify because, as you pointed out an inordinate percentage of their revenue is from one source.

advertising side arm is called DoubleClick, which certainly has a "funny" history.

History, you mean before Google purchased them. Got anything after?

Google, as you pointed out is an advertising company and it makes sense for them to expand by buying a competitor (once again, this is not the evil you seem to think it is). Google ad's are the least intrusive and bandwidth wasting (with the exception of adwords and I haven't seen a site with them for a while). Compared to other advertising companies, they're saints.

I'll be the first to admit that their transition from hosting AppInventor and open sourcing it was not smooth, but this is Google for you. But what other companies Open Source anything they dont have to. If Microsoft or Apple bought Android Inc. do you think they would have open sourced it at all? I think not.

Now that rant is over, I wish I could have AppInventor installed as an IDE on my own machine but props to MIT for hosting it, maybe one day I'll have it as an independent IDE.

Re:Why Google cancels all their projects (-1, Offtopic)

ProgrammerJulia (2589195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258669)

Google funds Firefox (and other browsers, none the less) because it brings them revenue. Note that these are always revenue share contracts with Google and browser makers. Google cares about getting users because users bring them money. On top of paying revenue share to competing browsers, they are also paying shareware authors and OEM's to bundle Chrome with their apps and PC's. A quite adwarey and shady tactic.

Re:Why Google cancels all their projects (2, Interesting)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258745)

On top of paying revenue share to competing browsers, they are also paying shareware authors and OEM's to bundle Chrome with their apps and PC's. A quite adwarey and shady tactic.

How is that shady, it's not hidden or hard to remove (al a Norton). In fact I bought a new Asus laptop, it came with Google Chrome pre-installed and I'm certain I'm not the only one who's glad I had a browser other then Internet Exploiter.

Also, how is Chrome adware? You're really grasping at straws here.

RLZ (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261113)

Also, how is Chrome adware? You're really grasping at straws here.

Is this close enough? Usage tracking including RLZ identifier [wikipedia.org]

Re:RLZ (1)

Rasperin (1034758) | more than 2 years ago | (#39264349)

Not enabled by default, check the settings page.

Re:Why Google cancels all their projects (1, Offtopic)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258837)

On top of paying revenue share to competing browsers, they are also paying shareware authors and OEM's to bundle Chrome with their apps and PC's. A quite adwarey and shady tactic.

On top of making Bing their default search engine with IE, Microsoft is also bundling their browser with the OS and making it a mandatory not-removable component. Quite a shady tactic.

Re:Why Google cancels all their projects (1, Informative)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258843)

Google funds Firefox (and other browsers, none the less) because it brings them revenue

And you get out of bed every weekday morning and go to work because it brings you "revenue." Did you have a point?

Re:Why Google cancels all their projects (2)

andydread (758754) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259497)

Take your anti-google campaign somewhere else. You are obviously trolling hard. You must be paid well. I think what is a shady/sleazy tactic is your shilling on forums and blogs. Florain? is that you.

Re:Why Google cancels all their projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261445)

The entire Android OS was open sourced, a contribution the likes of which we haven't seen since Linux.

Isn't that because Android mostly IS Linux?

Re:Why Google cancels all their projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39263219)

Oh good, another bonch sockpuppet to spend my mod points on.

What's more concerning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39258537)

You need a google ID to sign in. Scroogle.

Sick of pi (0, Flamebait)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258549)

I'm tired of hearing about Raspberry Pi. Really sick of it. It was of mild note when it was new, but now that it's on sale I'm being bombarded by a dozen stories on various news portals. Yes, it's a cute piece of hardware, yes it's cheap. No, it's not revolutionary or game-changing. We've had plenty of SBCs in the past that do pretty much what it can do.

And the stupid thing is, I'm a robotics researcher and an electronics hobbiest to boot - I'm the target demographic for this product. But it's not solving any problem I really have, and I'm so sick of hearing about it I'm not going to buy one out of interest. Even the feeding frenzy over kinect was better than this, in that it truly was new and innovative in the robotics space (or at least, was a whole lot cheaper than the swiss ranger). The internet is weird in the things it collectively decides to care about. It's the corollary of the power of the internet - sometimes the mediocre gets amazing airtime, and sometimes the revolutionary and important falls by the wayside.

Re:Sick of pi (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39258615)

Hey look at this!! Somebody's writing about Raspberry Pi! I wonder what it is!

Re:Sick of pi (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258639)

Well played, good sir/madam. Well played. :)

Re:Sick of pi (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39258705)

> I'm the target demographic for this product. But it's not solving any problem I really have, and I'm so sick of hearing about it I'm not going to buy one out of interest.
What? No you're not, right - it probably isn't, and they couldn't care less. It's targeted more like the OLPC than a hobbyist machine, only arguably better-targeted, because it's ideal for both hacks and for places that can't afford anything better, and has an insane price point.

Re:Sick of pi (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259753)

it's not really targeted like olpc. not at all, at least not successfully. if it were it would find it's way to school labs and so forth among people who haven't really played with arduinos etc... but as it is they're having trouble supplying enough units to electronics hobbyists - who already have spent bucks on arduinos and equivalents, that is it's not beginners who are ordering it - and consequently it's being sold through hc electronics hobbyist distributors as well.

atmels and arduinos are more like olpc. raspberry pi is more like an android mediabox hw used by chinese manufacturers, except that it's cheaper. raspberry pi is a project to bankrupt other makers of usb powered hdmi-out computers(by being 1/3th of the price)

Re:Sick of pi (2)

David at Eeyore (20627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258771)

Funny, I got the impression that Raspberry Pi was yet another extension of the BASIC Stamp/PICAxe/Arduino idea; a neat hardware wrapper around a microcontroller, but in Pi's case a processor with enough grunt to run Linux.
Maybe not a robotics platform particularly, but who knows what crazy repurposing of the board is just around the corner?
(Disclaimer: I haven't got a Raspberry Pi, but a motley collection of Arduini and friends, steppers and techo stuff!)

Re:Sick of pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39258935)

USB host, SD card reader, GPU and decent amount of RAM onboard make this one viable as a small general purpose computer - ARM CPU helps as well, while Arduino-likes are meant to be automation controllers.

Re:Sick of pi (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258777)

If you don't like it and can't think of anything to do with it great. Please move aside and let those of us that want to figure out things to do with it enjoy our moment where a computer that is pretty open source from the ground up gets its moment in the sun.

Re:Sick of pi (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258985)

Please move aside and let those of us that want to figure out things to do with it enjoy our moment where a computer that is pretty open source from the ground up gets its moment in the sun.

Oh if that were so. [raspberrypi.org]

Re:Sick of pi (2)

Trogre (513942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258813)

I would be considerably more interested in the Raspberry Pi if it were actually an open architecture.

Re:Sick of pi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39258839)

I'd call this post borderline off-topic seeing as the summary only mentioned the Ras Pi's to contrast it's potential contribution to education as insignificant relative to app inventor, except I agree with you 100 percent.

I'm not a researcher, but I am significantly invested in robotics as a hobbyist both in time & money.

I don't see what problem the raspberry pi solves. ARM is a shitty education platform for beginning programmers. I have quite a bit of embedded experience and I have found the ARM experience to be totally obtuse. It's powerful, but spinning ARM as kid-friendly is disingenuous.

The TV as a display is a gimmick which has no practical application. Media boxes are fixed appliances where volumetric density is not a huge concern. Why not buy a mini-ITX?

Most importantly, it has shit for peripherals and is dependent on an "unobtainium" processor which requires volume orders in the thousands to even get. This makes the "open source" angle practically useless.
-Because of it's complete lack of IO, using it as an embedded platform is forcing a square peg through a round hole.
-It's 501(c)3 management has made it's specs antiquated on arrival thanks to the Duke Nukem release date.

The foundation has floundered at every opportunity for professionalism and the entire effort reeks of amateurism punctuated by their laughably predictable failure to produce the board in the UK. Seeing as that was a huge portion of their marketing, all they have to do now is refuse to sell them to children & students or raise the price($20 S&H) and they will be batting 3 for 3.

The product barely filled a need in the first place and the only criteria they actually succeeded in was producing this abortion rather than allowing it to die a graceful vaporware death when the USB Thumbstick CGI turned in to a "not gonna happen". Whether that is to be considered a success or another failure is up to the reader.

This flash in the pan is not going to be another Arduino. The fan-boy base will evaporate when they become frustrated by the devices inability to accomplish even the simplest of embedded tasks, driving a hobby servo, without some sort of secondary processor.

If the foundation wants to salvage it's reputation, they'll revise the board layout to include an Invensense MPU-6000, develop a visor/headband for it, and sell it bundled with some Vuzix 3D googles. If they can latch on to the Vuzix Augmented Reality game at the right time, these flounders might be able to position themselves as a Remora.

Re:Sick of pi (3, Informative)

georgeaperkins (1715602) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258923)

The pi isn't primarily aimed at robotics enthusiasts with extensive experience in programming arduinos, who just want more IOs to drive steppers. It is a ready to go linux box for £20. The 'TV' display isn,'t a gimmick - its just a HDMI port. You can plug in a HDMI TV or computer monitor. I know what this backlash is about - Its /. readers inherent contempt for any technology which gains massive media attention. I agree its been over-hyped - but it is bloody good.

Re:Sick of pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39259067)

I don't want "more IOs to drive steppers". I would settle for ANY. Even 5 would be enough to make me happy. It's not like I'm expecting native CAN Bus support.
If I want a cheap linux computer, I use a WRT54G.
If I want a cheap powerhouse, I write a cell phone app.
If I want IO I use an arduino.
If I want better IO, I use an ARM.

If Raspberry Pi wants to re-kindle the TiVo hacking scene that's great, but then they should injection mold some cases for it then. Exposed PCB implies IO.

Re:Sick of pi (1)

Bulge Temptingly (982649) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259293)

The initial release is case-less 'developer boards'. There will be a cased version aimed at the UK and other educational markets shortly after.

Re:Sick of pi (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259917)

and then they'll be selling this. http://www.dealextreme.com/p/android-1080p-media-player-w-av-usb-sd-hdmi-ports-white-113252 [dealextreme.com]

the novel thing about raspberry pi is that(who cares if it's actually manufactured in asia, from asian parts?) is that it's project by a british charity(though they haven't done any actual charity yet? ).

in short it doesn't really seem that much that they know what they want to do - do they want to sell boards to hobbyists needing media players or do they want to give devices to schools(which would be what a charity would have been setup for). do they want to sell devices at profit or do they not?

honestly though it sure as f isn't going to change anything about what their stated goal was to change. all the targeted kids have computers already, uk doesn't need a new bbc micro. everyone has them already. generating interest at doing something with their devices though takes more.

Re:Sick of pi (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261093)

They sell that for $35? Oh, wait...

Re:Sick of pi (2)

am 2k (217885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259775)

I don't want "more IOs to drive steppers". I would settle for ANY.

What about the Gertboard [raspberrypi.org] ?

Re:Sick of pi (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259011)

I'm tired of hearing about Raspberry Pi. Really sick of it.

Like Homer Simpson, I'll never grow sick of Raspberry Pi.

Re:Sick of pi - Retarded Comment (4, Insightful)

mrpacmanjel (38218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259121)

The parent comment is retarded. How is it moderated insightful?

"I'm the target demographic for this product. "

No your NOT! It's target is education and "third-world" countries

"Yes, it's a cute piece of hardware, yes it's cheap. No, it's not revolutionary or game-changing."

It has potential to be "game-changing" because IT education in the UK is a joke - technical ability is shunned in favour of teaching Microsoft products instead. The Pi project is an attempt to start a similar UK computer culture as seen in the 1980s.

" We've had plenty of SBCs in the past that do pretty much what it can do."

At the current price - no, not really a 700mhz cpu AND gpu with 256mb ram, 2xusb and ethernet for $25?

"And the stupid thing is, I'm a robotics researcher and an electronics hobbiest to boot"

No the stupid thing is, you're stupid for not checking your facts first.

" I'm so sick of hearing about it I'm not going to buy one out of interest."
It's a charity and publicity is important to attract donors, sponsors and other sources of income. Producing hardware is an expensive undertaking.

As the saying goes "Ignorance is bliss" aka "twitchy slashdot commenter"

I also slay your troll-like posting with the following quotes from the Raspberry Pi "about" page: (Obviously your troll-like eyes are too tired to read the "about" page)

"..The idea behind a tiny and cheap computer for kids came in 2006, .."
" became concerned about the year-on-year decline in the numbers and skills levels of the A Level students applying to read Computer Science in each academic year."
"the 1990s where most of the kids applying were coming to interview as experienced hobbyist programmers, the landscape in the 2000s was very different;"
" David has been tireless in raising press awareness and finding us sponsorship."
"We’ve had enormous interest, support and help from the educational community, and we’ve been delighted and a little humbled by the number of enquiries from agencies and people far away from our original targets for the device."
"The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK registered charity (Registration Number 1129409)"

Re:Sick of pi - Retarded Comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260045)

Who's the real retard? Seriously. Do you have to be condescending in your comments? Can you simply state a differing opinion without attacking the parent? I could come up with arguments against your response to support the parent (I am an EE, but not in robotics), but your post is so offensive I would prefer not too.

I don't know when this started but lately /. comments have become increasingly personal attacks. Did we get in a new wave of trolls or did everyone start to really loath each other?

Re:Sick of pi - Retarded Comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260879)

Who's the real retard? Seriously. Do you have to be condescending in your comments?

Way to prove a point!

Re:Sick of pi - Retarded Comment (1)

c0p0n (770852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260961)

Innit. [xkcd.com]

Re:Sick of pi - Retarded Comment (1)

TD-Linux (1295697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265657)

No your NOT! It's target is education and "third-world" countries

Right, because the most effective way to give students computers is to buy a HDMI monitor, USB keyboard, mouse, and power adapter for your $25 computer (oh wait, you want internet? $35)

Never mind that that it's an even worse idea in third world countries. As much flak as the OLPC gets, it solves far more problems than this board does - very low power consumption, a battery, mesh networking for internet, a durable case, and a complete GUI software stack with Python and Logo built in.

It has potential to be "game-changing" because IT education in the UK is a joke - technical ability is shunned in favour of teaching Microsoft products instead.

Oh, right. It's for the "third world country" that is the UK. No, actually, the UK's schools are already well equipped with computers. Why add another lower piece of hardware in just to run open source code? Why can't you do that on a Windows box? How about installing Visual Studio? It seems the real problem is not offering classes, not the lack of hardware.

The Pi project is an attempt to start a similar UK computer culture as seen in the 1980s.

An interesting proposition. By allowing the students full access to a computer, rather than a limited login environment, they can start hacking away at the hardware. However, why would students do that if they already have a fully working Linux kernel? In the 1980's, part of the attraction was working close to the bare metal. It's too bad you can't do that with the Raspberry Pi, due to its Broadcom chip. Broadcom chips are notorious for having zero documentation, and the one on the Pi is no exception. Aside from a GPIO reference document they released recently, most of the chip is shrouded in mystery and binary blobs. For example, the entire video subsection of the chip is undocumented - the only thing Broadcom provides is the area that it takes on the memory map.

At the current price - no, not really a 700mhz cpu AND gpu with 256mb ram, 2xusb and ethernet for $25?

Actually that's the $35 model. The $25 model only has one USB port and no ethernet.

No the stupid thing is, you're stupid for not checking your facts first.

...

The parent comment is retarded. How is it moderated insightful?

How do comments that start out with sentences like these get moderated insightful?

I'll briefly mention that the point about this being targeted at EE's and hobbyists is in fact somewhat true. Why else would it have a header for a bunch of GPIOs, I2C, etc, and why else would they pressure Broadcom into writing documentation for it? There is also a theory that Broadcom is subsidizing the chips (based on the total cost of components on the board), with the intention of it being a sort of evaluation / demo board / PR combo. But the rest is speculation, I'll leave it at that.

Re:Sick of pi (1)

Truedat (2545458) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259285)

I'm a robotics researcher and an electronics hobbiest to boot - I'm the target demographic for this product.

But this is a tool for learning isn't it? Unless you are interested in teaching, then experts in robotics are pretty much outside the target market.

and I'm so sick of hearing about it [therefore] I'm not going to buy one out of interest.

Seems like a pretty mean spirited and irrational basis for your decision (as was the unnecessary swipe at RP in the summary). I have a young son who is starting to ask lots of questions about computers and I've always thought that the barrier for getting started is way too high. Software such as Alice is well meaning and all that, but there is still a lot of setting up to do that looks too much like voodoo to the uninitiated. I'm hoping that RP will let my son do lots of investigation on his own with only the occassional corrective input from me.

A new generation of programmers? (2, Interesting)

thesupraman (179040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258847)

"really valuable tools that could produce a new generation of programmers such as App Inventor"

Ah, Really?

Could someone please point me at the important differences in App Inventor that makes it special
and at all innovative?
Something a "new generation of programmers" are going to take hold of and will somehow make them
better, stronger, faster (queue super slow motion running..) programmers?

Sounds like someone is missing their favourit pointy-clicky "programming" but really is there something
here of importance?

There are plenty of accessible, entry level "introduction to programs" type systems around...

I would certainly say Raspberry Pi will do more for REAL programming for than App Inventor ever could,
as it gives people a very real system, at a "toy" price.. That is a game changer (of course there are other
similar projects, but this one looks like it will be ACCESSIBLE, which makes a big difference).

App Inventor is not BAD of course, but certainly not a critical path to anywhere.

Re:A new generation of programmers? (1)

Bulge Temptingly (982649) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259191)

Agree 100%. I can't think of one example, all the way back to LOGO, where something like App Inventor succeeded in getting kids into programming. Because it's like playing the piano - any chump can sort of learn to do it, but the really good ones are born, not made, and they'll find their own path anyway. So something like the Pi has far more potential - stick PyGame or KidsRuby on it and let them hack away.

Re:A new generation of programmers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39262315)

I'm not sure about your statement, ages ago, as a child with minimal ability to grasp the complexities of programming I started with Qbasic, and then visual basic. These are both TERRIBLE TERRIBLE languages that have inane syntax for complex things, but there basic syntax is very 'talk friendly'- and it was a rather natural transition for me to 'tell the computer what I want' and achieve a very rudimentary program (Click box, get flashing lights, make bananas in banana wars have huge radius for me, no radius for cpu, etc). I would later, once my interest was peaked by these simple victories, learn about coding, syntax, why being able to close a statement is important, and move on to other languages never to touch qbasic/visual basic again- but if it had not been for qbasic/visual basic, I may never have gotten to that point- the more complex languages are much more powerful, but the initial ramp from 'I know nothing about programming' to 'here is a program which actually works' is in my experience much higher.

Not programming (4, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258967)

Is App Inventor really programming? It's a drag-and-drop system which produces bytecode directly. The user can't see or edit the Java code. Once you hit the limit of what App Inventor can do (it's limited to one view, for example), you can't extend your app by working on the Java code. This means that even if you become an expert with App Inventor, you're not really any closer to becoming an Android programmer.

Re:Not programming (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39259115)

Indeed, what does drawing a graph representing an algorithm [wikipedia.org] have to do with learning programming? No relation at all.

Teaching algorithms is overrated, you should begin learning to program with fine distinctions between passing a variable by reference and passing a reference by value, proper object-oriented design and so on.

Re:Not programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39259943)

You've obviously never used app inventor. It has nothing to do with flow charts or algorithms. All the construction primitives are imperative style flow control blocks like for loops and if/else blocks, or functions with pluggable arguments (and yes, you have to deal with types just like you do in java.) It's basically java with drag-and-drop keywords. If it actually did what you seem to think it does it would have a point, but as it stands, it's only useful for teaching people who can't type how to program.

Re:Not programming (3)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259201)

Yup, and what about those fancy Visual Studio and Eclipse stuff? How can a man learn to program with all the distracting colors and tree-view point-and-click windows? You can't even see the assembly bits in binary! How will you recognize the micro-ops?

(Face it, programming has never been about laying out streams of text - that's typing. Programming is about knowing which combination of primitives to place in what order to solve a problem).

Re:Not programming (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259529)

I played around with app inventor - it's fun and let's you create an app quickly. Then you hit a wall though - you can't copy and paste similar structures, you can't have multiple apps screens, the sound objects have severe limitations etc. There are quite a few bugs as well.

In principle it would be a good tool to teach someone programming, but in it's current form it will become a source of frustration sooner or later because you will not be able to progress beyond a certain point. Maybe MIT will develop it into something better - perhaps add a way to export to Java, too. Right now I would recommend going the Eclipse route, though.

Re:Not programming (2)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259703)

Is App Inventor a tool to train computer scientists? Heck no. Can it be used to teach teenagers how to build simple apps to install in their shiny smartphones? Yes!

Even if the environment lacks that are essential for the professional programmer, it's a working programming language useful to build toy applications, which is exactly the kind that absolute novices should be exposed to. Once the students understand the essence of sequential execution and state changes in variables, they can move on to a real environment like Python (which is as natural change from the block syntax) or Java for a more thorough learning of the professional ropes.

Re:Not programming (2)

Zouden (232738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259561)

How can a man learn to program with all the distracting colors and tree-view point-and-click windows?

How is that a relevant comparison? Visual Studio doesn't let you create an entire application without typing any code, and it certainly doesn't prevent you from reading or editing code.

Programming is about knowing which combination of primitives to place in what order to solve a problem

That also describes building something out of Lego.

I think there's some educational value in App Inventor, just as there is in Lego, but it would be far more educational if it actually exposed the user to a programming language.

Re:Not programming (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259669)

How is that a relevant comparison? Visual Studio doesn't let you create an entire application without typing any code

Because you're overstating the importance of typing as opposed to specifying an automated behavior.

it would be far more educational if it actually exposed the user to a programming language.

And who says the App Inventor visual blocks are not a programming language? It certainly looks like an imperative language to me.

Programming is about knowing which combination of primitives to place in what order to solve a problem

That also describes building something out of Lego.

Ok, that should have been language primitives to solve a programming problem. Besides, you can program with Lego. [wikipedia.org]

yeah! better than pi (1)

jjbarrows (958997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259077)

when can I host my own? wasn't it going floss?

way better than pi, for $50 (or 0 for my old phone) I get 500mhz, apps, WiFi, gps, accelerometers, touchscreen, battery, card slot, another $50 at sparkfun gets me all the breakout usb io I want 'cept hdmi.

Re:yeah! better than pi (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261147)

So for 3x the price of the Raspberry Pi you get something slower, larger, and unsuitable for the task at hand. Great jerrrb.

Oh really? (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259495)

I thought we were still suffering from the last generation which realized you can code "Drag'n Drop"-style...our VBA/MS Access/Frontpage friends.

YOU FAIL IT!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39259799)

st[art 4 holy war

App Creation tools (1)

thereitis (2355426) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259845)

What other tools for generating Apps are out there? That would be good to publish somewhere if it hasn't been done already.

Put it back into the ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260197)

And the world breathes a sigh of relief after another yet another CS professor's theoretical tool is saved from a deserved grave. App Inventor, it is to the ten's what Logo was to the seventies.

"The Logo Programming Language, a dialect of Lisp, was designed as a tool for learning."

"To use App Inventor, you do not need to be a professional developer."

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