[etoys-dev] Step by Step debugging and Etoys

Steve Thomas sthomas1 at gosargon.com
Thu Nov 10 17:04:10 EST 2011

So the argument I have heard as to why Etoys does not have a single Step
Debugging like Scratch seem to go along the lines of "If we step one
script, the whole world waits".

I have two responses to this:

   1. So?
   2. Should we let the search for an elegant solution (that a few
   developers will see and appreciate) prevent us from providing a tool that
   can positively impact many children?

*So on "So?":*
So what if the whole world stops?
Yes, I know and can think of some cases where this will impact the ability
to debug certain issues, but my guess is these are a small minority of
cases and I do not see any negative consequences (other than the single
step debugging is not ideal in these few cases, but it would still be
better than no single step debugger).

*A solution versus an elegant solution:*
Another way to solve this problem (which I will assume others have thought
of, so I am probably missing something) is to do something similar to what
Bert did in his Squeakland presentation where you "roll your own tiles" and
place them in special holders (like "do together" or "do one at a time").
 When you click on "debug" or some other similar script icon, a new
"special script" is instantiated that has a copy of each tile, but it
operates one "step" at a time, doing the step during its cycle.  This would
allow the whole world to continue to run and provide single step execution
of tiles (or copies of those tiles inside a special scriptor, that runs one
tile at a time.).

The one addition I would make to the approach above is along the line's of
the one in Scott's recent
 Where you add an icon (the exclamation point in a yellow circle) to allow
the user to execute one tile at a time in any order/timing they want.

Another possibility would be to allow the user to "toggle" the visibility
of a yellow exclamation point for each tile, this would be to allow kids to
display the "fire tile" icon and just click through one at a time, which
would also allow single step debugging (versus run at a slow pace, and
frankly I prefer kids click each time, as it forces them to slow down and
think.  When doing "Test" tiles not sure if you should highlight "Yes" or
"No" or just skip to the first tile in that section.  I lean toward the

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