BlocklyProp account setup

So I finally got around to taking a look at Blockly. First thing I needed to do was set up an account. Tried screen name "PhiPi." It was taken! Had I done this before? No se. But none of my usual passwords let me log in. So I created a new account. I'm rather disturbed that entering the necessary data to do so -- including passwords -- defaulted to an insecure form (i.e. no https). C'mon, Parallax! What's up with that?

After getting everything set up, I took a gander at the IDE. I couldn't find anything that supported the new servo w/encoder, so I thought it might be available in the community projects section. Migosh! It looks like everyone who ever started a Blockly project has their code up for the public to view. I'm not sure I like this. Actually, I'm sure I don't like it. Parallax, when will you have Blockly available as a completely local service that doesn't rely upon an internet connection?

Thanks,
-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

Comments

  • 12 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • Phil,

    Two things - any project can be saved "private" and Blocks under development (like for the new servo with encoder are on the "Demo" site here - http://demo.blockly.parallax.com/blockly/

    Give BlocklyProp a good try - get past the newness, and I think it will grow on you!

    Maybe someone bought the PhiPi screen name so they could sell it to you! ;-)
    Whit+

    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
  • Thanks, Whit!

    -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
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 6,087
    edited October 27 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Are you sure you didn't go into this looking for faults, room for improvement and trouble? Are you planning a Yelp review too? :) Truthfully all comments are welcome but I also get to push back.

    Passwords and logins are required because the system runs on servers and files are stored on servers, so it provides us a way to associate your files with your account. The https part is coming soon - as you notice it says "BlocklyProp Beta" because these pieces can take a long time to design. And as a private company which generates revenue to pay for our expenses, we sometimes have to make decisions about the timing of these various features. Sometimes things have to wait.

    Today we discussed the Feedback360 servo block, which will likely be posted tomorrow or the next day in conjunction with the release of the ActivityBot 360. So, that piece is on the way and you're a little bit early.

    When you create a Blockly project (or after you've created it) you can make it Private or Public. Code needn't be shared if the creator doesn't want to share it. Maybe the issue here is that you're looking at this like OBEX and that's not what it is. Shared projects provide a way for a student to give access to another student or teacher, that's all.

    The request for a local version is common, but it's too early to do that. We need to stabilize a few more pieces of the system before we start making local versions.

    Keep in mind a couple of important benefits about cloud-oriented software and the intended audience:

    (a) Chromebooks are in 50% of the schools in the USA in 1-to-1 programs. These computers and their Chrome OS are a dream to IT administrators - the login enables the apps (not the computer), they can be managed remotely, e-mail from outside can be blocked (COPPA compliance) and a host of Google classroom tools make them useful for teachers. They also don't have local file storage, so programs must be stored in the cloud. Like our Blockly system.

    (b) Students are highly accustomed today to working on shared documents. They produce entire presentations from the same file, in parallel. We do the same at Parallax - our Corporate "drive" is largely a Google Drive so people can work together quickly. Point being: students are already used to sharing their work, and they expect to, without e-mailing source code files around. The BlocklyProp system is designed with their uses in mind.

    (c) The cloud system ensures that the latest software version is always present, simply by going to our system via browser. Of course, it means we can also change blocks and make your code not work. But we're sensitive to not breaking projects.

    = = = =

    Off topic now.

    For others reading these posts I'd like to be sure they have their own experiences using BlocklyProp. Sometimes educators visit our forums and draw conclusions based on dated posts, so I'm a bit sensitive to that.

    Phil is not the target user and none of his points are about Blockly or visual programming languages, but our system design. These points are on our internal GitHub for improvement already. Chances are that future readers could stumble on this post and think these issues have still not been addressed (and maybe they haven't!). Many of our traditional customers really don't like the layers of "stuff" required to use Blockly (the web login, the compiler on our servers, even the blocks themselves sometimes). Some customers don't want to use a computer at all for microcontroller programming, and others still want their programming machines off the internet. Students don't readily have these opinions.

    Student benefits of using Blockly have already been proven by researchers (watch my boring webinar on YouTube). As an educator myself, I often spend days in classes to get our teachers up and running. I've taught a variety of courses for 20 years (BASIC Stamp, Propeller C, Blockly). This week, Kate and I spent our third morning in Mr. Pointer's class where the students told us "this is the coolest thing we've ever done at school" and thanks us with rounds of applause. While this particular course doesn't have the time to be an in-depth embedded programming introduction, I'm sure that the use of a system like BlocklyProp made it possible to capture the interest of 80% of the class and provided a positive first exposure to text-based programming too. Students can choose Blockly or C and the whole class can move forward.

    Ken Gracey
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 6,087
    edited October 27 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Picture of Mr. Pointer's class - all Chromebooks.

    IMG_2405.JPG
    3264 x 2448 - 1M
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 6,087
    edited October 27 Vote Up0Vote Down
    About the benefits of Blockly, off-topic from Phil's original post.

    On Tuesday I gave them OLEDs and within 20 minutes later they were doing all kinds of things. By the end of the class we were working on the basics of a ball bounce. It was quick progress. By the time class was over I felt I'd better do a bit of research about how to code a pong game myself.

    One major improvement we are making this winter is to allow the "code" view switch to C to support editing and downloading. It already works in our demo.blockly.parallax.com but you'll experience a feature omissions if you try it out. We're drawing the line at being able to incorporate other libraries and keeping it fairly simple for now.

    Ken Gracey
    3264 x 2448 - 675K
    3264 x 2448 - 1M
    3264 x 2448 - 1M
  • Whit wrote: »
    Maybe someone bought the PhiPi screen name so they could sell it to you! ;-)

    I'm sure this deal could be arranged, too.

    Ken Gracey

  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 6,087
    edited October 27 Vote Up0Vote Down
    So I finally got around to taking a look at Blockly. First thing I needed to do was set up an account. Tried screen name "PhiPi." It was taken!

    Username is your e-mail address in this case. Is your e-mail taken?

    Ken Gracey

    [Edit: scratch the above - you were on the login screen which indeed asks for a screen name. I'll look into this for you.]

    Screen%20Shot%202017-10-26%20at%2010.08.17%20PM.png
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 21,350
    edited October 27 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken,

    Thanks for your considered and thorough response!
    Ken Gracey wrote:
    Are you sure you didn't go into this looking for faults, room for improvement and trouble?
    Ken, what?!! No, I'm quite sure. As we both know, I have a good reason for wanting a positive Blockly experience! It's just that the sign-up seemed a little rough (didn't work at all with Firefox, BTW; Chrome worked okay). And from there, I wasn't seeing the one resource I had hoped for. But, thanks to Whit's guidance, I think I can move forward.

    Thanks again,
    -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
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 6,087
    edited October 27 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Use Chrome, the most popular web browser at this time. I'm aware that some of us don't want to use Chrome. We won't even bother trying to make it work with Firefox, unless it's obvious and easy to address.

    The underlying Blockly code is from Google and therefore runs most reliably on Chrome and Chromebook for people who stumble across this post:

    https://www.parallax.com/news/2017-07-25/chromebook-support-blocklyprop-parallax’s-blocklyprop-now-available-chromebook

    Ken Gracey
  • DrPopDrPop Posts: 149
    edited October 27 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Students just seem to get Blockly. When I showed my daughter she could program her activitybot with Blockly, she looked at it and said, "Oh, cool, that’s just like hour of code we did in class last year."
    It's so similar to what they've been exposed to in other classes, I think it's a win-win for getting them interested.

    Although, there isn't a block for everything, and some advanced users might feel a little limited by that. I was hunting for a standard servo speed block until Jon replied that the CR Servo ramp block could be used instead. And it works...more or less.
  • I use Chrome exclusively on my MacBook, since it feeds my TV's ChromeCast device for MLB games and the like. 'Been slow to convert out in the shop on the Windows machine, though -- just out of habit.

    -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
  • Throwing my 2 cents into this discussion on BlocklyProp as someone that knows close to Nothing about programming I was impressed and found it easy to use and having the ability to convert my blocks into actual code was a fantastic way to get a grasp on programming. Currently I'm attempting to learn SPIN which BlocklyProp is no help with, but when I decide to attempt C I will use BlocklyProp to assist me in learning this language. Thumbs up to Parallax and it's team !!!
Sign In or Register to comment.