Ruby, Squeak and Alice

Posted by on Nov 10, 2006 in Technology

A few months ago my 11 year old son asked me to teach him to program. Now I’ve tried this before — last time I pointed him to the Squeak website and said go forth and program. Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy. So over the last couple of months we’ve tried the following environments:RubyRuby is an industrial strength programming language and coupled with Ruby on Rails it is a great web app development environment. These were the steps we followed:1. Tried Ruby in your browser. My son crashed the browser environment — I’m still not sure how he did it.2. Completed the Ruby in Twenty Minutes tutorial. It took us more than 20 minutes…3. And now we are busy with a great Ruby tutorial by Chris Pine.4. Our goal is to write a Ruby on Rails app. I’ll publish the link as soon as we get there.Ruby is included in Mac OSX, however you can also download it from the Ruby website. It’s available for most operating systems. On the Mac we are using a great development environment called TextMate. A neat dashboard widget is available to view Ruby documentation. A Ruby plug-in is available for Eclipse.And finally you can download Locomotive, a complete Ruby on Rails environment for the Mac.SqueakOK, if you read my previous blog entries then you know that I’m a great fan of Smalltalk. Unfortunately my son doesn’t share my enthusiasm for Smalltalk so we haven’t spent time playing with Squeak or the etoys environment. Check out the squeakland website. Btw, this environment is included in the One-laptop distribution.AliceAlice is a 3D interactive development environment developed by the great folks at Carnegie-Mellon University. This is an excellent environment to learn OO concepts while directly interacting with your virtual world. Really cool stuff. It’s available for Mac, Windows and Linux.My son is doing great and he loves Ruby and Alice. I will keep you posted on his progress.

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