Google Releases Blockly Tech Demo for Visual Programmers

If you’ve got room in your brain for yet another programming language, or you’ve got a young one interested in learning the programming ropes, Google’s new visual programming language might be what you’re looking for. The tech demo for Blockly is now available for preview. There’s plenty of good ways out there to start learning programming, but Blockly is a mixture of step-by-step guide and jigsaw puzzle which is completely browser-based so there’s nothing to download or install.

The idea behind Blockly is to illustrate, for new programmers, how commands in a programming language are put together without having to focus on learning programming terms so much as learning structure. If you’re an experienced programmer, it looks like it could be useful for putting together small programs which can then be exported to JavaScript, Python, or Dart. Dart is one of Google’s other programming projects, in case you missed it. If you’re familiar with App Inventor (which Google handed over to MIT) or Scratch, Blockly takes a lot of inspiration from those projects. While Blockly can export to the above-mentioned languages, you cannot do the inverse. Google currently has “no plans to import from one of these languages to Blockly.”

Blockly is, like many other things from Google, an open source project. The code is freely available on the Blockly site. There are also 3 demos you can check out right now. Maze lets you use Blockly to solve a maze. Code shows how to export Blockly to JavaScript, Python, Dart, or XML. RTL can show you how Blockly looks for right-to-left reading languages. If you want to keep apprised of future Blockly developments, you can also join the mailing list.

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