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Google Releases Raspberry Pi Web Dev Teaching Tool

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the development-microcosm dept.

Programming 68

judgecorp writes "Google has released 'Coder,' described as a simple way to make web stuff on Raspberry Pi. The idea is to make the Pi into a simple web server and web development environment on which kids can learn HTML, CSS and JavaScript. They provide an image for the Raspberry Pi, and they've open-sourced Coder as well. 'We thought about all the stuff we could do to make Coder a more complete package, but we have a hunch that the sooner this gets into the open source and maker communities, the more we’ll learn about how it might be used. Hopefully, a few more folks will pitch in and help us make this even more accessible and helpful for new coders.'"

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Making it too simple for kids to learn (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841299)

We're going to wind up with a generation of script kiddies who cannot function without a IDE and GUI.

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (4, Funny)

Daemonik (171801) | about a year ago | (#44841383)

We're going to wind up with a generation of script kiddies who cannot function without a IDE and GUI.

I think the onion tied to your belt is starting to get moldy there.

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (1)

The-Ixian (168184) | about a year ago | (#44841559)

Bravo! Bravo!
 
Nothing like a Simpsons reference to make my day complete.
 
Thank you sir

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (3, Insightful)

rufty_tufty (888596) | about a year ago | (#44841401)

How many people today can function without a compiler?
How many welders can function without a foundry to produce the iron for them?
How many people can function without farms to grow their food for them.
How many farms these days can function without computers and iron tools?

It's called civilisation, we build on top of the work of others and do ever greater things. If everyone in all of life had to know how to do everything we wouldn;t get very much done.

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841533)

All right, I'm getting the shotgun. You did see the sign, didn't ya?

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44842365)

Sure did. It was a real eye-opener.

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (0, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44842655)

The retarded part is using a raspberry pi ... when you need some other computer to do the actual work of making the raspberry pi useful.

Unless you're buying a raspberry pi with a preloaded SD card, this is stupid because the computer required to setup the RaspPi and make it useful is about ... a billion times more powerful and more useful.

This is yet another retarded use of a raspberry pi for the sake of riding the marketing wave.

Re: Making it too simple for kids to learn (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | about a year ago | (#44844283)

Erm the pi is about as powerful as a desktop from 2003. Are you saying we did nothing useful before then?

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (4, Funny)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44841573)

if you don't code in assembly, you're dumb and lazy

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44841803)

This is how I would put it: even if coding in assembly wasn't your main job, everyone should take a crash course into assembly to make better solutions in higher-level languages too.

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841915)

I'd say it like this:
If you can't program in assembly on at least one CPU architecture you have no business programming.

I'm conversant in x86, Mips, PowerPC, ArmV7, VU (ps2), SPU (ps3), 6502, 68000, and PIC; some of those are a little rusty.

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44842687)

How did you find the time to learn all those platforms?

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (1)

danceswithtrees (968154) | about a year ago | (#44842895)

After you learn a few key concepts (registers, different types of addressing, basic instructions), learning a new architecture is easier as you only have to learn about the important differences, eg endianness, argument order, special instructions, memory layout, etc. Those differences are what get rusty.

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | about a year ago | (#44843197)

Unless you come from Motorolla 6809, then 68k and try to learn x86. Then you're like WTF? Who designed this crap?

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (1)

twdorris (29395) | about a year ago | (#44843249)

Unless you come from Motorolla 6809, then 68k and try to learn x86. Then you're like WTF? Who designed this crap?

Tru dat

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (2)

rufty_tufty (888596) | about a year ago | (#44842311)

Surely for the the issue isn't assembly vs everything else it's demonstrating the ability to use a range of language philosophies, There are lots of languages under the sun and certainly I'd be worried about someone who always had garbage collection at their beck and call if I was trying to implement any system with real time requirements or involved lots of heavy lifting of data. However isn't there a worry someone can get too stuck in the nuts and bots. I've seen so many examples of code where someone has done something in hundreds of lines of C for something that would take 5 lines of perl, (and before you say the implementation they used would make the C slower)

So if a CV turned up for someone who had no assembly experience but had experience in C, Perl, Ruby, Occam, Lisp. I'm fairly sure if they would have a grasp of the fundamentals, much more than someone who just had x86 assembler and C++.

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (4, Funny)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about a year ago | (#44842561)

Assembly is a crutch for people who are too weak-minded to remember opcode values and numeric addresses.

And I'll bet you've never implemented a single instruction in microcode.

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#44843797)

Damn straight he's learning assembly! If it was good enough for me [necrobones.com] , it'll be good enough for my son!

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (2)

AJH16 (940784) | about a year ago | (#44842301)

This just means my skills will become more valuable. Besides, you can use an IDE to build an IDE, just like you use compilers to build compilers.

Re:Making it too simple for kids to learn (1)

superwiz (655733) | about a year ago | (#44869053)

Why do you even think that programming has to involve text? Aren't you effectively stuck in the functional programming paradigm? It was an anachronism of the early stage of computing when programming was used primarily for computations. If you start thinking of computers and of programming as controlling devices, you would realize that the clear view of what you control is more important than knowledge of stock algorithms implemented over and over again in text. Human thought progresses through creating new abstractions which better handle old problems. Better ways to solve old problems and new problems is not only inevitable, it is a good thing.

Tenant? (5, Interesting)

JanneM (7445) | about a year ago | (#44841321)

I'm very likely over-reading this, but my first reaction when seeing this was: don't learn to use Python and code your own stuff. Learn to use JS and code for the Google platform instead. Learn to become a tenant farmer.

Re:Tenant? (2, Funny)

Daemonik (171801) | about a year ago | (#44841411)

Why do you pathetic "programmers" these days still use script languages? Real men code in assembler while wearing utili-kilts, you sissies.

Re:Tenant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841793)

Why do you pathetic "programmers" these days still use script languages? Real men code in assembler while wearing utili-kilts, you sissies.

I think there's an emacs command to do that.

http://xkcd.com/378/

Re:Tenant? (1)

Rhywden (1940872) | about a year ago | (#44842005)

Bah, you sissy. You use a magnet and tip the bits on the platter by hand!

Re:Tenant? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year ago | (#44844123)

Bah, you sissy. You use a magnet and tip the bits on the platter by hand!

What's "a platter"? Isn't that what cooked fish comes on?

Real programmers program the toggle switches by hand.

The mainframe computer at Michigan State University used to have a large bank of toggle switches which contained the bootloader code for the system. A CDC-6500. Hydraulically operated disk for swap. Vector CRT for console.

Re:Tenant? (1)

geezer nerd (1041858) | about a year ago | (#44847967)

Yup, what you say is quite true about the CDC 6500. I was at the University of Texas in 1966 when they received #13 CDC 6600. There was a bank of 12 x 12 switches in which the ultimate boot program was encoded. Typically they caused a read to be initiated at location 0 of the hard disk, and thus loaded in the rest of the boot sequence. In its day, it was the be-all end-all supercomputer with a 1 microsecond cycle time.

My thesis work, computing a potential energy curve for a diatomic molecule took 8 solid hours of computing on the 6600 for each plotted point. I don't know what it would have taken on the machine we had before. I was the night operators' friend. They started my runs at the beginning of their shift, and had nothing to do until morning.

Re:Tenant? (1)

the_arrow (171557) | about a year ago | (#44861069)

A real programmer would use butterflies [xkcd.com] !

Re:Tenant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44842545)

Real men code in assembler while wearing utili-kilts, you sissies.

Did you just invoke the "No True Batman" fallacy?

Re:Tenant? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44841587)

I'm very likely over-reading this, but my first reaction when seeing this was: don't learn to use Python and code your own stuff. Learn to use JS and code for the Google platform instead. Learn to become a tenant farmer.

It's basically what Google does: sponsor a high-bandwidth network to a town -- get them connected and to use Google services. Teach kids AJAX -- get more web coders, ultimately more profit to Google.

Re:Tenant? (2)

KalvinB (205500) | about a year ago | (#44842039)

When I started web development I started with HTML. Then I learned JavaScript and later CSS. Much after that I started with backend scripting languages and then databases. I wanted to be a game programmer initially so I learned BASIC then C and C++, Java and C#. Web stuff came later and that's what I do now with PHP, Perl, Python, etc.

This is for kids getting started. If you want to be a web developer, the best place to start is with the visual stuff. You can now make 3D games with JavaScript so it will support starting programmers for a very long time. JavaScript has replaced BASIC as the go to language for kids who want to create things. All you need is a browser and a text editor. And of course the internet or a good library with plenty of resources to guide you.

The real issue is that the Pi with a decent monitor, keyboard and mouse is going to set you back over $200. It isn't exactly cheap. For $100 more you can get a proper laptop that isn't horribly crippled.

Re:Tenant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44842549)

Or from a little something I call "Another Perspective": A Pi, with the old tv in the basement, and a $10 mouse and keyboard combo from a local thrift shop = a webserver under $50, that has the bonus property of not running on the families main computer. Leave it on all day, have it generate cool stuff you can access from your phone or tablet when not at home, etc.

It's been quite sometime, but I still imagine it could be a lot of fun for kids, who might have a Pi already. The market's already there, this isn't designed to "sell more pi's", but rather provide something of worth to the ecosystem. Let's support it, and wonder to ourselves not if, but which one of those kids is going to grow up to be an innovator of future tech.

Re:Tenant? (0)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44842675)

You need a real computer to make the Raspberry Pi do anything in the first place. Why not just use the real computer and not waste $35 on something that needs a power supply, case, monitor, keyboard, mouse, SD card, OS which is buggy as well?

Stop shoehorning this shit in places it doesn't belong.

This is nothing more than riding the RaspberryPi name for profit.

Re:Tenant? (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | about a year ago | (#44843209)

You can do the development on the Pi itself quite easily.

Re:Tenant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844559)

This is nothing more than riding the RaspberryPi name for profit.

Right, that's just what Google needs to make it big! Success is just around the corner, thanks to the Raspberry Pi! That must be why they're releasing the tools free & open source!

Re:Tenant? (1)

krswan (465308) | about a year ago | (#44843385)

I'm a public school teacher. The crap Dells my district buys last maybe 4 years before something major dies in them, and the warrantee only lasts 3. Keyboards and monitors generally last much longer (not so for the mice they way they are used by my elementary school kids, but they are pretty cheap to replace). The result is I have lots of extra monitors and keyboards, so the Pi, a vga or dvi adaptor, and maybe a mouse come out to $60, plus the plastic for our 3d printer to print cases. This was part of the plan from the profs in England who designed the thing to get it in the hands of school kids.

As for the Google tools, I just downloaded them and will play with them this weekend to see if they might be useful for my engineering club to work with. From TFA they look promising. If any of you want to volunteer to teach my 4th and 5th graders assembler, let me know. I haven't messed with it since I had an Atari 800. My goal is to allow them to begin learning to control their technology instead of just being passive users of it, and hopefully set them up for deeper learning later. HTML, CSS, Python, and Arduino's IDE have all been useful tools for me to do this the last few years, and I'm hoping to ad RPi to the lineup.

Re:Tenant? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#44847571)

The real issue is that the Pi with a decent monitor, keyboard and mouse is going to set you back over $200. It isn't exactly cheap. For $100 more you can get a proper laptop that isn't horribly crippled.

If you fork out for a decent desktop class monitor (not super awesome, but decent) and a mid to high end keyboard or mouse, then sure.

I popped on to my main go-to vendor, and looks like they have keyboard and mouse combo packs for about 8 pounds. Worth it to avoid the mankyness of a second hand keyboard. The cheapest DVI monitor on there was about 60, for a new one. If you got to places that sell second hand ones, you can get a servicable screen for about 30 pounds. Probably less.

Total outlay is more like $100, rather than $200. Which means it's $200 less than a proper laptop.

Besides, the Pi isn't crippled, it's low end. Big difference.

Re:Tenant? (1)

pfafrich (647460) | about a year ago | (#44881571)

I think the way coder works is that the Pi sits a a local (web)-server connected via your local ethernet network. You don't actually need a separate monitor or keyboard for the Pi as all control is done via a PC connected to the network.

Oh Gawd!! (4, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#44841367)

...on which kids can learn HTML, CSS and JavaScript...

Why not teach them Perl and make 'em Cubs fans too, as long as you're about to fuck 'em up for life?

Re:Oh Gawd!! (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44841541)

Since when has Perl replaced PHP as the black sheep of Web languages?

Re:Oh Gawd!! (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#44841569)

Since when has Perl replaced PHP as the black sheep of Web languages?

You got that backwards, sonny. And get off my lawn.

HEY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44843467)

HEY! I'm a Cubs fan that uses perl ... ah shucks ... I think you're right!

mixing software and hardware development? (1)

peter303 (12292) | about a year ago | (#44841571)

I suggest for many people it would be better just to buy a $199 Chromebook rather than to try do both hardware and high level software at once.

Re:mixing software and hardware development? (1)

neorush (1103917) | about a year ago | (#44841609)

I think the idea is to hand a kid this already setup, so it is a very cheap way to get someone into writing web applications.

Re:mixing software and hardware development? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44842691)

Its not cheap.

It still requires a monitor, keyboard, power supply, mouse, sd card for the OS, USB stick so you get reasonable IO ... boom, already you're well past the $200 chrome book.

It only looks cheap because you ignore the fact that a RaspberryPI by itself is utterly useless and needs a fuck ton of support hardware before it becomes useful as a general purpose computer.

Oh, and its slow as balls.

Re:mixing software and hardware development? (2)

Thiez (1281866) | about a year ago | (#44842871)

Most kids are going to have access to a normal computer anyway, which would include a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. They can use ssh access or some kind of remote desktop to control their RasPi. No extra support hardware required, apart from a power supply, a sd card (they're dirt cheap) and a UTP cable to connect it to a switch/router. Your 'well past $200' estimate is completely ridiculous.

Re:mixing software and hardware development? (1)

Fwipp (1473271) | about a year ago | (#44843919)

If you click through to the article, there's actually web-based access to the Pi, from which you can do your programming.

No SSH required.

Sweet. (2)

neorush (1103917) | about a year ago | (#44841583)

This is pretty awesome. One of the barriers of learning to code is getting passed the server setup. I remember fiddling with a mandrake installation for days before getting it to actually give me a properly parsed perl page. This should help kids get into it. And for those of you everyone-should-code-webpages-in-vi(m) people, kids who find it interesting, will dig deeper. All of my initial *unix skills came from wanting to do more with a webpage (e.g. how do I install a perl library), but having a functional web / database is what got me started.

Re:Sweet. (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year ago | (#44844193)

This is pretty awesome. One of the barriers of learning to code is getting passed the server setup.

No, people getting passed the server setup is how Google is allegedly helping the process, not putting up a barrier. They are passing people the server setup so that other people can get past the server setup stage... which isn't really that hard anyway these days.

All of my initial *unix skills came from wanting to do more with a webpage

Thank God there is nothing more to Unix than web pages.

Re:Sweet. (1)

geezer nerd (1041858) | about a year ago | (#44847991)

I think the original poster you have responded to meant "past", not "passed" as he said. That changes the meaning of what he said to you, and makes your comment kind of pointless.

Re:Sweet. (1)

neorush (1103917) | about a year ago | (#44862099)

passed -> past*

Really? (2)

brucefulton (3074171) | about a year ago | (#44841615)

sudo apt-get install apache2 mysql-server php5 php5-mysql

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44843475)

sudo : The term 'sudo' is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet, function, script file, or operable program. Check the spelling of the name, or if a path was included, verify that the path is correct and try again.
At line:1 char:1
+ sudo apt-get install apache2 mysql-server php5 php5-mysql
+ ~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : ObjectNotFound: (sudo:String) [], CommandNotFoundException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : CommandNotFoundException

pi (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44841895)

Is there a benefit to this on a raspberry pi? Why not just build a simple system that runs on a pc or Apple, which everyone who might have a pi will have, and millions who don't as well.

Re:pi (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about a year ago | (#44842019)

It wouldn't make the headlines, nor work as click-bait.

Re:pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44842169)

Is there a benefit to this on a raspberry pi? Why not just build a simple system that runs on a pc or Apple, which everyone who might have a pi will have, and millions who don't as well.

XAMPP

Re:pi (4, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#44842381)

Raspberry Pi is much cheaper than a PC or Apple.
We're talking about lots of kids in classrooms.
This is for kids in classrooms.
The rest of you old geezers should stick with your legacy systems.

Re:pi (0)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44842711)

RaspberryPi is cheap because its missing all the shit that is required to make it useful.

Keyboard, mouse, monitor, power supply, SD Card for OS, USB stick for writable partitions because the SD card support is asstastically slow, Wifi adapter, time for someone to image the SD card for it, trouble because the RaspberryPi is poorly engineered power hog that can hardly sustain its own circuits, and don't forget, you still need a case.

To get a raspberrypi functional as a 'desktop', you need more basically to buy a full machine worth of hardware.

This is like handing some one an i7 chip and telling them to go learn how to program. Its stupid on every level.

Re:pi (1)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#44843299)

It does make a very useful and inexpensive educational computer (which was the design goal).
Lots of people have also put them to use in many other ways (which don't require high "performance").
It's a screaming 3 watt power hog.
It doesn't sound like it would meet your needs and I recommend that you don't get one (and please, for our sakes, ignore all further discussion of the Raspberry Pi).

get your priorities straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44843363)

Those things are all readily available elsewhere for far less money than the RaspberryPi foundation could ever hope to charge.

In fact in many places you can find most of that stuff in the garbage.

If the point is to get computing capability out there for minimum cost, well that is what they are doing.

Re:pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44843911)

RaspberryPi is cheap because its missing all the shit that is required to make it useful.

Keyboard, mouse, monitor, power supply, SD Card for OS, USB stick for writable partitions because the SD card support is asstastically slow, Wifi adapter, time for someone to image the SD card for it, trouble because the RaspberryPi is poorly engineered power hog that can hardly sustain its own circuits, and don't forget, you still need a case.

To get a raspberrypi functional as a 'desktop', you need more basically to buy a full machine worth of hardware.

This is like handing some one an i7 chip and telling them to go learn how to program. Its stupid on every level.

...So, it's on par with the pre Apple-1 days.

Yeah, and nothing good ever came out of that experience.

The Pi puts a hardware platform in the hands of anyone who wants to hack. It puts a computing platform, and a supporting community around it, in the hands of anyone who wants to hack. You can get cheap ($200) ready to use consumer systems... ...this is not a consumer system. It's a testbed/learning platform/prototype/curiosity machine for anyone (and I mean -ANYONE-) who ever looked at their Legos and said "I wonder if I..."

Now you can.

And if I epically fuck up? Im out all of $35 bucks. (The "missing stuff" are easily scroungable to be almost negligible in part cost)

Re:pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44847659)

Yeah, real hacking on a weak, closed SOC.

Re:pi (2)

GiganticLyingMouth (1691940) | about a year ago | (#44844317)

Keyboard, mouse, monitor, power supply, SD Card for OS, USB stick for writable partitions because the SD card support is asstastically slow, Wifi adapter, time for someone to image the SD card for it, trouble because the RaspberryPi is poorly engineered power hog that can hardly sustain its own circuits, and don't forget, you still need a case.

I recently purchased a RaspberryPi. Everything together it came out to under $100 ($42 for the pi + $25 for keyboard/mouse + $9 for SD card + $10 for WiFi USB adapter), not counting the monitor (I hook it up to my TV, as it has an HDMI port). You just need some 5V 2.1A power source; I just use an old phone charger I had. I recently moved, so I didn't have a spare keyboard or SD card. For most people, odds are they already have this stuff laying around. Also, no need for a case. The SD card imaging is very simple, they provide the documentation and requisite files. You greatly overstate the cost and difficulty of using a RaspberryPi. Do you have an axe to grind or something?

Re:pi (1)

the agent man (784483) | about a year ago | (#44843893)

This makes NO sense for kids in classrooms. Without the ability to run silly but required pieces of software (including the new US testing SW) and Wifi students would need a Raspberry Pi IN ADDITION to some Mac or PC. Quite simply, this is not going to happen because it would mean schools would have to spend more without getting more.

Fucking rasberry pi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44841965)

It's a closed HW piece of crap system. Come on already, there are open, much faster and better boards out there at cheap prices.

Simple web stuff? (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year ago | (#44842129)

FFTA... [quote]"Google has released 'Coder,' described as a simple way to make web stuff..."[/quote] I thought that was what Rails is for.

Too bad its pointless (1)

technosaurus (1704630) | about a year ago | (#44842155)

They could have at least include a dynamic IP mechanism to pull it up at some google hosted domain.

guess I'm old and cynical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44842491)

First thing that came to mind was "oh great the NSA now commands a bot army of thousands of embedded devices care of Google".

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