On an airborne tropical island with levitating rhinestones is a brown, pear-shaped wandering character that goes by the name of Byte. Key in commands such as “moveforward ()” and Byte will follow, pack three “turnleft ()” commands and tell Byte to turn right. Before you know it, you’ll be learning how to code.
This is Playgrounds, Apple’s new Swift coding application.
Set for release in the App Store within the next few months, Playgrounds is an educational app that teaches the fundamentals of programming. From commands and functions to algorithms, variables and types, Playgrounds teaches users how to code with simple one-line commands, conditional codes and logical operators. If all these sound foreign, Byte will be here to guide you through.
With Byte and his levitating rhinestones, users will learn how to program with both visual metaphors and real code. Apart from picking up skills on stringing a few commands, players will be able to move Byte up and down his island with nested functions. Additionally, the app was created to push users to “debug” programs and identify mistakes; it teaches real problem solving with a healthy focus on syntax.
Through Playgrounds, users learning to code will be exposed to Swift, Apple’s programming language unveiled two years ago. One of the world’s most popular languages, Swift has simplified coding without compromising on the speed and power needed to develop apps and online services. Playgrounds was a part of this boost, and it gave Apple coders a more efficient way of coding. While coding on one side of the screen, they were able to watch the execution on the other.
With the new Playgrounds iPad app, beginners of all ages will soon be able to learn how to code – even children. “Swift is not just a thing that pro developers can use,” said Wiley Hodges, an Apple product-marketing manager that helps to oversee Swift and Playgrounds. “It could be someone’s first programming language.”
At the same time, Playgrounds can be catered to experienced coders as well. While Byte’s island is a coding playground in itself, intermediate coders can build their own playground as well. This serves them a testing ground to see the results of any of their own codes. Before incorporating codes into a larger application, coders can use Playgrounds to test specific algorithms.
With a rapid growth in coding for daily life, be it for mobile phones, tablets, or the Internet itself, this particular skill is a viable ability to have. While unassuming in appearance, Byte opens up a gateway for the development of the next generation of coders.
Adapted from Wired.