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Android Education Programming News

MIT App Inventor Back Online 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the getting-the-band-back-together dept.
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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MIT App Inventor Back Online

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  • by thesupraman (179040) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @03:05AM (#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.

    • 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.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      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 radi

  • Not programming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zouden (232738) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @03:29AM (#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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • by TuringTest (533084) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @04:38AM (#39259201) Journal

      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).

      • by Asic Eng (193332)

        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

        • 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 en

      • by Zouden (232738)

        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

        • 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 wh

  • 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.

    • by dave420 (699308)
      So for 3x the price of the Raspberry Pi you get something slower, larger, and unsuitable for the task at hand. Great jerrrb.
  • 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.
  • What other tools for generating Apps are out there? That would be good to publish somewhere if it hasn't been done already.

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