Home Waterbear is Like Scratch, but for JavaScript

Waterbear is Like Scratch, but for JavaScript

Waterbear is a Scratch-like visual programming language for JavaScript. It was created by Dethe Elza, who gave a presentation on the project today at JSConf in Portland, OR. Waterbear brings the concepts of kid-friendly, educational programming languages, such as Logo and Scratch, to the modern, browser-oriented computer. Users can create programs by snapping together blocks.

Unlike Scratch, you can view the code generated by Waterbear.

Elza’s vision for the project is much like that of Alan Kay’s vision for Squeak and the ideas in the book Mindstorms by Seymour Papert. Elza hopes it can be used in programming books and courses to allow learners to explore code in a more immersive environment, or enable individuals to become “casual programmers.” He uses his own kids as examples.

His 10 year old son learned Scratch and has moved on to more advanced programming. He already thinks of himself as a programmer. But Elza’s 14 year old daughter thinks of herself as an artist. She draws, and is working on a novel.She learned Scratch, however, and uses it every few months to create things to embed on her blog.

Elza named the project after the extromophile of the same name because he wants it to be an extremely robust language. For example, he hopes the Waterbear interface can eventually be used with other languages, such as Ruby and Python.

Future plans include making it possible to generate Waterbear block arrangements from JavaScript code, enabling users to visualize existing JavaScript code. This is not trivial to implement, however.

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