Learn Programming Concepts with Scratch


Writing code for the web involves making use of concepts like "if . . . then" statements, functions, Boolean logic, and loops. This is often in the context of user-initiated actions: If the user clicks here, do this, then do that. If you've never programmed before, diving into a language like PHP or JavaScript can be pretty intimidating.

If you're a complete beginner and interested in learning to program, you might try out Scratch, a programming language developed by the MIT Media Lab and designed to introduce young people to programming. Scratch makes it easy to create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art that responds to user input.

The language is not just textual, but visual, too---you provide instructions to your program by fitting together Leggo-like graphical blocks. What you end up with is a kind of interactive cartoon. For example, connect the orange "when cat clicked" block to the purple "say 'hello, world!'" block, and then run your program. Now, whenever you click on the cartoon cat graphic, a speech bubble will appear and he'll say "hello, world!" Soon you'll be chaining statements together, adding conditions, and writing more complicated programs. If, after playing around with Scratch, you begin to experiment with web programming languages, you'll discover that you already have some of the key concepts well in hand.