BlocklyProp - where to ask questions? Is anyone using it?

Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 12,584
I posted a few questions that went unanswered in the Propeller 1 - "Open Propeller Project #5: BlocklyProp" thread
http://forums.parallax.com/discussion/votecomment/1400018/voteup/FVS1MQE3H0D7/
but I have had no response, nor further posts to that thread.

Where is one supposed to post questions, etc?

Is anyone actually programming in BlocklyProp yet?
My Prop boards: P8XBlade2, RamBlade, CpuBlade, TriBlade
Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd, Spinix)
Website: www.clusos.com
Prop Tools (Index) , Emulators (Index) , ZiCog (Z80)

Comments

  • 22 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • Courtney JacobsCourtney Jacobs Posts: 807
    edited February 21 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Cluso,

    The users on this forum are not the typical audience for BlocklyProp (young students, educators, people new to programming in general), so there may not be as much support here as there is for Spin, PBASIC, or even C programming on SimpleIDE. You are still welcome to post here in Learn, and if a Parallax employee or helpful forum member is able to answer, we will. You can also direct technical questions to our technical support by way of email: support@parallax.com.

    In regards to your questions from the other thread (which I quoted here for simplicity):
    Is this the place to ask Blockly Prop questions?

    I have downloaded the Beta and Ican compile and download.

    But Blockly does not work for me because I am using my P8XBlade2 board which runs at 96MHz (8*12MHz). Can I change the default somewhere?

    What does Blockly compile to (Spin, C to CMM/LMM)?
    Can Blockly use spin or pasm objects?

    I have built an Otto/Zowi/Bob Bot with my grandsons. It runs with an Arduino and I thought it might be good to get them interested in programming the Bot with Blockly and the Propeller.

    There is no way to change clock speed in BlocklyProp at the moment. Parallax's BlocklyProp for Propeller compiles C code, which can then be pasted into SimpleIDE if you want to hand-modify your programs for your P8XBlade2 board. Just click the button that says "Code" with the little eye symbol in the top-right of the screen to view the program in C.

    The official BlocklyProp cannot accept or use any external objects or libraries created by users, and is not meant for advanced programming. Please use an IDE like SimpleIDE, the Propeller Tool or another software if you want to make intensive modifications to your programs or use libraries not available in the BlocklyProp programming environment.

    That being said, BlocklyProp has a lot to offer, and we encourage you to explore its limits and add ideas or suggestions in the form of issue reports to our BlocklyProp Github. This tool is relatively new, and still evolving.
  • Cluso, ask questions. BlocklyProp has some intentional limits (integer only, global variables, fixed clock speed) so the target audience can be successful. In some cases even the blocks do additional work - like the A/D block outputs integers from 0-330, and the RFID Reader Block turns the 10 bytes into a whole number, and so on. Keep this in mind as you delve into it.

    Many people are using BlocklyProp. At least a few thousand S3 users and by Summer and Fall we will be adding at least 10K more users as it is incorporated into programming courses. It's a slow adoption process in education so we don't expect overnight wonders.

    And yes, we want your involvement and support! We're happy to see all of you jump in. I'd like to see more educators using our forums and your additional knowledge will be valued to Parallax and our customers.

    Ken Gracey
  • Thanks Courtney and Ken.
    I have already emailed some simple typos found on the BlocklyProp web pages and they have been actioned.

    Where do those using Blockley "hang out" to ask questions, post what they have done, etc? And can I join in?
    My Prop boards: P8XBlade2, RamBlade, CpuBlade, TriBlade
    Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd, Spinix)
    Website: www.clusos.com
    Prop Tools (Index) , Emulators (Index) , ZiCog (Z80)
  • Is there a "BLOCKEX" for people who might want to contribute blocks, and is the process for creating blocks documented anywhere?

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Is there a "BLOCKEX" for people who might want to contribute blocks, and is the process for creating blocks documented anywhere?

    -Phil

    To add to that: Do I understand that BlockyProp is not stand alone, that an Internet connection is required to code your platform?
  • MikeDYur wrote: »
    Is there a "BLOCKEX" for people who might want to contribute blocks, and is the process for creating blocks documented anywhere?

    -Phil

    To add to that: Do I understand that BlockyProp is not stand alone, that an Internet connection is required to code your platform?
    From the little I have done, yes, it's online.
    My Prop boards: P8XBlade2, RamBlade, CpuBlade, TriBlade
    Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd, Spinix)
    Website: www.clusos.com
    Prop Tools (Index) , Emulators (Index) , ZiCog (Z80)
  • Cluso99 wrote: »
    MikeDYur wrote: »
    Is there a "BLOCKEX" for people who might want to contribute blocks, and is the process for creating blocks documented anywhere?

    -Phil

    To add to that: Do I understand that BlockyProp is not stand alone, that an Internet connection is required to code your platform?
    From the little I have done, yes, it's online.


    I hope that may change over time, once designers of Blocky see what the end users needs are. Personally I code a little, and take breaks not wanting to sign in again in something other than my lock screen.
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 5,971
    edited February 22 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Cluso99 wrote: »
    Thanks Courtney and Ken.
    I have already emailed some simple typos found on the BlocklyProp web pages and they have been actioned.

    Where do those using Blockley "hang out" to ask questions, post what they have done, etc? And can I join in?

    This has been the challenge we need to resolve. At the moment there's a Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/blockly/ I'm willing to guess that most people on our forums want nothing to do with Facebook, which is fine. I'd like to establish another place where teachers can easily talk about Blockly but have not figured out where that place would be. Ideally it would be right here, on our forums, but they don't wander in here too often. However, when they do I know you'll all be giving them a warm welcome.

    Oh, we've appreciated your edits by the way. Keep sending them in to us - not only do they improve our editorial, they also make you another Blockly expert like the rest of us BlockHeads.

    Thanks Ray for holding the course -

    Ken Gracey

  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 5,971
    edited February 22 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Is there a "BLOCKEX" for people who might want to contribute blocks, and is the process for creating blocks documented anywhere?
    -Phil

    It's the most active and productive GitHub we've ever managed.

    Take a look at the number of commits, issue repairs, and discussion https://github.com/parallaxinc/BlocklyProp

    Hopefully ya'll know that we've not been sitting on our laurels lately. It's been an all-hands on deck situation for the last six months with two years of prior development. Our IT Guy (Jim) has created a self-scaling server farm in the Amazon cloud to handle more and more classes. IT freaks would be interested in what's going on behind the scenes and how quickly the whole system works. Apparently the future addition of our new PropLoader (Jeff?) will make it faster than any tool you've used.

    And there's a lot of neat additions coming:

    - $39 FLIP module (flip your class!)
    - WX support, with Blockly - perhaps the easiest IoT ever envisioned

    All bets and Parallax future is on Blockly. P2 is a bonus round.

    What I really like about Blockly is that it enables easy "visualization" of all the functions and processors used in a Propeller program, in a graphical space. In the same way that Chip enjoys these three monsterous 4K(?) monitors lined up vertically on his office wall, providing a "wall of code" so he can see the whole darned P2 in a glance. He looks more extreme than a day trader. . .

    Ken Gracey

  • Is there some sort of tutorial on what's required to add a block? Is it even possible to do that without having access to your servers?
  • There's some documentation on the GitHub, but better yet you can look at the actual block code.

    The project has potential to suffer from "too many cooks in the kitchen" so while I encourage participation, I just need to let you know there's certainly a learning curve. Even more importantly is how such would might integrate with what's being done by the Blockly team - lots to consider with the customer in mind.

    Some of the competitive systems (ArduBlock) suffer from a vendor-driven visual confusion around hardware needs. Not certain how it happened that way.

    Ken Gracey


  • Ken Gracey wrote: »
    There's some documentation on the GitHub, but better yet you can look at the actual block code.

    The project has potential to suffer from "too many cooks in the kitchen" so while I encourage participation, I just need to let you know there's certainly a learning curve. Even more importantly is how such would might integrate with what's being done by the Blockly team - lots to consider with the customer in mind.

    Some of the competitive systems (ArduBlock) suffer from a vendor-driven visual confusion around hardware needs. Not certain how it happened that way.

    Ken Gracey

    I looked at some of the code. It doesn't look like each block is defined separately. There are files that contain lots of block definitions and a single block definition is not contained entirely in one file. For example, the code generators for C and Spin are in separate files from the definition of the block itself. Is there any way to package user blocks to make them easy to add to the system?
  • At our school (gr 7-8) we use BlocklyProp / S3 as part of the robotics course.

    I've also had great results in our coding course by setting the S3s up for use in the Scratch unit. What I dislike about Scratch is that students are sitting in front of a screen for another hour of their day. Adding S3 as a hardware implementation for block code gets them up and moving. During their 2-month Scratch study they take turns pausing for a 2 week excursion on the S3. About half want to spend more time; once you've coded for hardware you never want to go back ...

    The system takes almost none of my time. The students ending their excursion teach the ones coming in how to get started. Each of them works through the tutorial sheet in the box, then the basics and motors tutorials at Learn. Their grade is based on a trace that they program and draw on poster paper to which they staple screen shots of their code. My walls are filling with these posters. Current students look at the prior work hanging on the walls and get ideas by seeing the code. I've seen them walking back and forth across the room She did it that way but he did it that way.

    I know it is working when the whole class has slid away from their Scratch monitors and are standing around the robot tables in a troubleshooting klatsch. I also know they like it when I start the Java unit and the first question is if they can use Java on the S3.

    I have a list of Teacher Tips that I'll share. They need to be properly typed; right now they are just in my handwritten scribble.
  • Kauffman is an early adopter and it's really pleasing to see the results. He holds Parallax to a high standard and doesn't tell us any stories we want to hear to make us happy.

    We've got around a few thousand S3s out there in use with Blockly at this point.

    Ken Gracey

  • David Betz wrote: »
    I looked at some of the code. It doesn't look like each block is defined separately. There are files that contain lots of block definitions and a single block definition is not contained entirely in one file. For example, the code generators for C and Spin are in separate files from the definition of the block itself. Is there any way to package user blocks to make them easy to add to the system?

    Know nothing in this way, sorry! I can tell you that since we started the code has gone through a number of revisions to adhere to some standards.

    Ken Gracey

  • "All bets and Parallax future is on Blockly. P2 is a bonus round." - Ken

    Perhaps we are at the stage where BlocklyProp deserves its own category in the forum. Just by being in the list at the left of forum home screen denote importance by Parallax.

    Suggestions for sticky threads in BlocklyProp category
    New Developments for Blockly posted by Ken or Matt to point users to new features added.
    Tips for Educators viz How to reduce volume for tutorials
    Set-up Notes viz. 32bit client
    FERPA/COPPA notice of compliance, how to get compliant credentials

    - John
  • Ken Gracey wrote: »
    David Betz wrote: »
    I looked at some of the code. It doesn't look like each block is defined separately. There are files that contain lots of block definitions and a single block definition is not contained entirely in one file. For example, the code generators for C and Spin are in separate files from the definition of the block itself. Is there any way to package user blocks to make them easy to add to the system?

    Know nothing in this way, sorry! I can tell you that since we started the code has gone through a number of revisions to adhere to some standards.

    Ken Gracey
    Who should I contact to learn more about the internals of BlocklyProp?

  • I can probably answer your questions. Please send an email to our general IT account at 'it at parallax dot com' and I'll reply back with a better email address.
  • Jim,
    email sent
    My Prop boards: P8XBlade2, RamBlade, CpuBlade, TriBlade
    Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd, Spinix)
    Website: www.clusos.com
    Prop Tools (Index) , Emulators (Index) , ZiCog (Z80)
  • MattMatz_ParallaxMattMatz_Parallax Posts: 25
    edited May 4 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Good evening, for those of you that want to play around a bit, there is a "user defined" block in the demo system (demo.blockly.parallax.com) - it is not available in the beta/production system, and won't be for a while, but you can take it out for a test drive if you'd like.

    It's under the control menu and available for the activity-board, flip, and other board types. You click on the box at the beginning of the block to expand it, and you get some options. It's far from perfect, but gives you an idea of a way that we could accommodate users who want customizable functionality.

    I'd love you hear your thoughts, as this block is targeted to our power users.

    Thanks!
    Matt
    Matthew Matz
    STEM/Robotics Educator
    Parallax Inc.
  • Last year I had high hopes for, and supported, the Kickstarter project Cubit. It was basically a collection of boards with all of the usual type stuff (switch, LED, potentiometer, servo, relay, etc.) which could be controlled through graphical programming.

    I don't know if the graphical programming was based on Goggle's Blockly paradigm or not.

    After receiving parts, I tried quite hard to use it. But the programming was very very poor. Weird stuff kept happening. You just could not depend on any stability, even with the very simplest of programs. I gave up. I suspect that the project failed as there have been no updates on the website or to the programming software in maybe 8 months.

    Having just started with BlocklyProp, in spite of having some difficulties, it is clearly much more stable and useable, and fun. I'm just an old guy who likes to tinker with electronics. I do hope BlocklyProp survives and evolves as it seems useful to quickly try out controlling some hardware although definitely more for education.

    Thanks Matt for mentioning the demo system and user defined block, and thanks to Courtney Jacobs. I did not know that I could paste the C code into SimpleIDE and modify it.
  • RobR wrote: »
    Having just started with BlocklyProp, in spite of having some difficulties, it is clearly much more stable and useable, and fun. I'm just an old guy who likes to tinker with electronics. I do hope BlocklyProp survives and evolves as it seems useful to quickly try out controlling some hardware although definitely more for education.

    RobR, thanks for joining the Blockly team. Not only will it survive - it will prosper! In our first day of FLiP Module sales we've sold almost everything on the Pick-and-Place line. That's one indicator of what lies ahead! And Parallax has made this a tremendous priority for very good reasons: our customers want it; it's a niche where we can do very well; it's inclusive, we teach courses to get the instructors underway, and perhaps most importantly is that it's super fast to build basic projects with Blockly. This last point is absolutely imperative in 1-hour programming classes.

    You can count on this tool evolving, progressing, improving and being very capable. Your contributions and feedback are important.

    Ken Gracey
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