[etoys-dev] (SQ-749) and Kathleen's question on "What do you mean by Artifacts?"

Steve Thomas sthomas1 at gosargon.com
Thu Oct 28 00:47:40 EDT 2010

On Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 7:57 AM, Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Please do follow through with your plan of asking for 3 (or 20) things

Here are my list (blew past 3 and 20 ;)

   1. Make it easier for kids to debug, "see" how scripts work and start
   "playing computer" in their heads.
      1. Visual debugger that allows single stepping scripts, similar to the
      way Scratch works, also the ability to drag out  a section of a script
      similar to Scratch. I have seen kids use both methods to debug and figure
      out what is going on and its very effective. One improvement over Scratch
      would be a method where it doesn't execute the next tile until
you click a
      particular key, so kids can control the pace.
   2. Ability for kids to build their own set of tools to reuse and share.
      1. The ability to create your own scripting tiles that can be placed
      inside any script. They would have a slightly different look so
you can tell
      they are user created scripting tiles. They would also have the option to
      allow you to "look inside" and see how they work and modify them if you
      2. Scripts are decoupled from ?Players? and can be copied to and/or
      associated with multiple objects. WIth appropriate kid friendly error
      messages, ex: if you have a polygon tile associated with a non polygon
      3. Object Repository - a location where you can store/share/retrieve
      objects you and others have created.
   3. Improvements to "Playfield/Holder" so that it can be used as a
      1. Auto-adjust width to width of item in the holder
      2. fixed column/row height/width
      3. Ability to reference other cells in the table
      4. Ability to see/set padding sizes between objects
   4. Ability to send emails from a project and/or store a file with results
   that can be read
   5. I/O functions for data collection, configuration, communications
   6. The ability to easily reference a set of objects. I have at times
   wanted to iterate through a list of objects to lock/unlock them, set
   color/size or run some script on them.
   7. All objects show collections category when you drop items into them.
   8. Connector Labels that are placed near the middle of the line (vs where
   the mouse is)
   9. The ability make other objects siblings after they are created.  I
   often realize after the fact that I would like a set of objects (with
   different costumes) to be siblings.
   10. Tiles to set Playfield gridding size and tiles for other menu items
   that you currently can't script. (although I noticed that you can get the
   halo for a menu item and fire it which works providing you don't have to
   enter values like in "set grid spacing".
   11. More Explicit reference to Messaging (Scratch uses terms like
   broadcast/receive) I  guess this is also coming from the fact that it took
   me a while to figure out the behavior of some of the scripting tiles.

More Fun Stuff:

   1. Robotics Interfaces: Arduino and Lego
   2. An "ask" tile to get user input
   3. Abiltity to glide to a position in X secs
   4. Ability to Say a Speech Bubble for X secs, ...
   5. Ability to sequence sounds and speech bubbles (ex: play sound until
   done [then execute next tile])
   6. tile(s) similar to Scratch's (change
   <color|fisheye|whirl|pixelate|mosaic|brightness|ghost> effect by [x])
   7. Better sound and camera/video support.
   8. Font Control in scripting tiles
   9. Tile to "grab" a section of the screen (from x,y to x', y'). What I am
   thinking of here is I like to encourage kids to a) make appropriate
   comparisons, so seeing the results of multiple modeling runs side by side
   would be useful. Also for combinations/permutations such as given
   two/three/four/... color blocks how many different stacks can you make
   two/three/four/... high.  This could probably be done by simply having them
   stack the blocks in a playfield and copy the playfield (scaled down) to a
   holder. Not sure about this one.

User Interface Improvements:

   1. Improved Visual Clues when placing items in scripts and Holders to see
   where they are going to be placed. Too many kids struggle with this and get
   frustrated (which I think is a big part of why folks say "Scratch is
   easier") ex:
      1. scripting tiles don't go where they want
      2. An item is placed int the wrong spot in a holder
      3. They add an item to an expression instead of being able to change a
   2. Access to "Visual Help" at the scripting tile/menu item as opposed to
   in quick guides. I am thinking here of an animation of what the tiles/menu
   items actually do, with more than one example so kids get the idea their are
   multiple ways to use them not just one way. Similar to the ideas/work of a
   fellow (whose name I can't remember :( but he did some smalltalk work
   similar to PA Dreyfus' project Kids In
    he wrote a paper on cartoon communication or something like that, I am
   sure you folks will know who I am talking about when you look at Kids in
   Clouds (Bert showed me his work at Squeakfest), if you can get me his name I
   would appreciate it I want to re-read some of his papers and I can't find
   them :(
   Scratch does this with option click on a tile to get a menu which
   includes help. But instead of a static help message, animated help with
   multiple examples and try this or what would happen if you tried ... or how
   could you use this to ... (ie: prompts to get the kids to think)
   3. Scrollable Viewer if items extend beyond viewable screen space.
   4. Simpler entry of expressions in scripting tiles (parentheses is the
   biggest pain)
   5. Scrolling of Script Editors when the script is wider or taller than
   its holder (ie: playfield or world)
   6. In Holders, visualy move items out of the way to see where I am going
   to insert an item.
   7. Kid Friendly Error messages
   8. Be able to toggle between full screen and partial screen painting and
   allow the canvas to be moved
   9. Improved Paint tools
   10. Ability to flip horizontal/veritcal everything, not just graphics

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