Scratch 2.0 is released

scratch 2.0The MIT Media Lab has released Scratch 2.0 and it has some very cool features. (If Scratch has passed you by it is a wonderful program designed to teach programming to kids.)

The core difference between 2.0 and previous versions is that this little beauty runs in a browser. Just fire up a browser and you’re off. No installations or downloads required.

Sharing and commenting on creations has been made even easier and it is now trivial to not just take a look at a finished product, but also to see the underlying code.

In a very modern move, you can now work with ‘cloud variables’. These are variables that are centrally stored and shared – so, for example, you can create a survey, or a high-score list the compares the scores of anyone who has ever played your game. You can also use a webcam on a computer to interact with your Scratch program – for example you can pop balloons on a screen using your hands.

There are a few differences between Scratch 2.0 and previous versions – they obviously reflect the new features and some improvements in approach  For example, there are some differences to the way things are laid out. But these changes are relatively minor and won’t take an experienced Scratch programmer more than moments to master.

I do wish that you could access Scratch 2.0 from an iPad, but that sadly is not possible as it is based around Adobe Flash. I think this is the first and only time I’ve been seriously inconvenienced by Apple’s Flash restrictions. Given how many kids are using iPads in school and at home these days, this is a bit of a serious issue. There are, however  hints, just hints, that an HTML 5 version might be somewhere out beyond the horizon.

Overall Scratch 2.0 seems great. Just like earlier versions it’s a clever, intuitive programming environment. Now made even better. To try Scratch out just go to scratch.mit.edu.

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