Recent statistical studies regarding the demographics of Apple products users (Macs in particular) have shown that Apple technology lovers are generally young. Personally, I think very highly of young spirits. Fresh minds come up with ideas, innovations, are open to new directions and trends and are always looking for a little fun.
Well, my young mind had today its share of innovative fun as I tried out a software called Scratch. I initially thought it was a tool for children, but after seeing what's it about, I concluded it's more likely for young (spirited) adults, that might have basic programming knowledge (this is not required, though).
This free utility is made for creating animated images, a kind of cartoon. "Scratch is a new programming language that lets you create your own interactive stories, games, music, and art.", say the producers. Well, indeed it is. The animations are made using regular programming instructions such as repetitive controls, variables and action handlers.
When you open the program, you'll see it's structured like a regular "framework". It's split in three: on the left, all sorts of instructions are listed (grouped on categories such as Motion, Looks, Control, Variables). You can drag and drop each of these controls onto the center part. This center part of the window is tabbed, listing Scripts, Costumes and Sound. To begin your work, you need to choose a Sprite (the character you'll be animating) from the program's collection or make your own. The Sprites you're working with are displayed on the right side of the
As I was saying, the center part of the window has three tabs. The Script tab will be the main working place. It is here where you'll be placing your instructions to make the desired animation. To run a code block (preview the result), double-click the block. Under Costumes, you'll be able to add various images displaying different positions of the same Sprite. Use the ones provided or customize your own. You can even add sounds to your cartoons. Check the sounds that are made available or record your own.
This programming language allows basic development, but I should say great things could be made with the help of a skillful programmer. The instructions can be dragged and their parameters changed to create the block of code you need. The instructions will be linked to one another, like the pieces of a puzzle. Set the actions that would trigger the execution of your code within a few seconds, by using the appropriate control. Once you've got the idea, it's really easy to use.
The software is available in ten languages and the programming instructions change accordingly, so it's very intuitive and does not require you knowing programming. Work can be imported and exported, and if you have a Scratch user account, you can upload your best projects to the Scratch website, directly from the program. The producer provides with tutorials and FAQs, read some of this first, to understand how and what's to be done.
I see Scratch not so much as a cartoon creator, but as a great tool for learning programming (and some math and geometry as well, while you're at it). And it's fun too! Scratch is easy to use and if you let your imagination run loose, who knows what Pixar-worthy creations you'll be making? The Good
Scratch is a cool tool to learn programming while developing nice cartoons to use for animated story-telling, games or whatever. It's a graphical interface programming environment that can easily be used by both children and adults. It's a well developed, freely available utility that many could benefit from. Give it a try!The Bad
I can't name anything bad about Scratch. I could, however, make a suggestion to its developers: Lose the grey! Or at least make it lighter...The Truth
If you're interested in beginning to learn programming, this is a really great tool to use. If you'd like to lose a couple of hours making some hilarious animation (with a free tool), even better! Why study when you can have fun? Scratch is a graphical interface programming environment that is easy to use, friendly, and manages to pleasantly blend fun and studying. I should say it's worth giving a try.These are the screenshots: