Friday, March 15, 2013

TouchDevelop–This is Cool!

imageI finally decided to get serious about learning TouchDevelop this week. I have sort of toyed with it from time to time and I’ve seen the development team do demos several times. But I never really focused my attention on learning it for real until now. Let me tell you I have having a blast. I should have done this a long time ago.
For those of you who are not familiar with TouchDevelop it is a programming language and environment designed from the ground up to be used in a touch environment such as a modern smart phone. So there is minimal typing and a lot of selecting from a contextual menu of options. TouchDevelop was originally only available for Windows Phone and the Windows Phone app still gives a programmer a lot of access to phone features such as all the sensors. But recently they created a web based version that runs on most modern web browsers so that people can create and run programs on Windows, iOS, Android, Mac and even Linux. (See here for a list of supported platforms and what is supported on each.)
So what am I playing with? I am planning on doing some applications with Turtle graphics with the students in my Office Applications classes to introduce the idea of programming and computer science. So my first task was a simple program.

I created this on the PC/Web version and published it to a web app. You can use this link to try it out on the web. Next I fired up the TouchDevelop app on my Windows Phone and logged in. My app was available there as well and I was able to not only run it but edit it on my phone. Cloud based programming and sharing for the win!
I will continue to look through the large collection of TouchDevelop videos, the TouchDevelp curriculum samples, and all the other resources for teaching with TouchDevelop. There is a lot ot learn but a lot of online help towards learning it.
I’ll let you know in a week or two how it goes with my students.

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