GETTING STARTED WITH SCRATCH
Scratch is the best educational programming software available today. No other tool makes programming as easy as Scratch does. Many similar products have been inspired by Scratch, but Scratch remains the most popular. With Scratch, you can create interactive games, animations, and science projects, all while having lots of fun!
Scratch is a free programming environment that runs in your web browser. It was designed by the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group. Scratch users, called Scratchers, can create programs by snapping together code blocks in the Scratch editor. Although Scratch was designed for 8- to 16-year-olds, Scratchers consist of people of all ages, including younger children with their parents. The software makes it easy for anyone to start developing their programming and problem-solving skills.
Because Scratch runs in your web browser, there’s no software to install. It’s impossible for a Scratch program to damage the files on your computer. Scratch is completely free—there are no ads or in-app purchases, so kids can play with everything on the Scratch site and adults don’t have to worry about accidental charges.
In Scratch, you use the mouse to drag and drop code blocks, so little typing is needed. Here’s an example of the snap-together code blocks:
The visual Scratch editor provides you with quick feedback, so you don’t have to type mysterious commands for hours before you can see your programs come to life. Scratch makes programming immediate and fun. And unlike other programming languages, Scratch doesn’t have any error messages that pop up and confuse the programmer. If you want to learn the basics of programming (or help someone else learn), Scratch is second to none.
To start using Scratch, open your web browser and go to https://scratch.mit.edu/. It doesn’t matter whether you’re running Windows, OS X, or Linux, but you do have to run Scratch on a laptop or desktop computer. Scratch doesn’t work on tablets or smartphones.
The Raspberry Pi computer cannot run Scratch 2.0, the version of Scratch covered in this book.
Signing up for an account is free. You can create Scratch programs without an account, but having the Scratch account lets you save your programs online. Then you can continue working on them later from any computer connected to the internet.
Click the Join Scratch link at the top of the page to create an account. A new window opens:
After you’ve logged in to the Scratch website, click the Create link at the top of the page to start the Scratch editor.
THE OFFLINE EDITOR
The offline editor lets you program without being connected to the internet. If you don’t have internet access or if your Wi-Fi is unreliable, you can install the offline editor on your computer instead of using the Scratch website. The only difference is that programs will be saved on your computer instead of on the Scratch website. You can later upload your Scratch programs or copy them to a flash drive to move them to another computer.
The Scratch offline editor is available at https://scratch.mit.edu/scratch2download/.
You may find the editor software for an earlier version, Scratch 1.4. Don’t use this version; it’s out-of-date and doesn’t have the new features that Scratch 2.0 has. If you’re using Scratch in your web browser, you’re using Scratch 2.0. If you download an offline Scratch editor, be sure to download Scratch 2.0.