Cod­ing on the hop

Financial Mail - - DATA - Kate Fer­reira

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to code but been too in­tim­i­dated to start, Grasshop­per of­fers the gen­tlest of in­tro­duc­tions, liv­ing up to its prom­ise of be­ing “the cod­ing app for begin­ners”.

The app is sim­ple enough for a pre­teen but is aimed at adults, and it “gam­i­fies” the process of learn­ing ba­sic Javascript.

Grasshop­per — launched in April by Area 120, Google’s work­shop for ex­per­i­men­tal prod­ucts — con­sists of guided lessons that you can do in a few min­utes of spare time be­tween tasks. The app tries to en­sure you will make a daily habit of these lessons, of­fer­ing to send you a re­minder daily, ev­ery two days, and so on — rem­i­nis­cent of the learn­ing ap­proach of lan­guage apps.

And that’s essentially what cod­ing is: learn­ing a lan­guage to in­struct a com­puter to do some­thing. You build up from the ABCS to com­plex para­graphs by learn­ing the words and syn­tax that ap­ply.

The first les­son in Grasshop­per is a sim­ple re­cre­ation of a coun­try flag us­ing colour­ful blocks (draw­ing shapes). After a cou­ple of lessons, you’ll be given a short quiz to test your un­der­stand­ing of the code you have writ­ten.

From there you move on to the an­i­ma­tions jour­ney, and so on. There is also a sup­port forum, and some­thing called the Code Play­ground, in which you can prac­tise writ­ing code be­yond the spe­cific re­quire- ments of the lessons.

The app is free to down­load for IOS and An­droid de­vices, and the in­ter­face is about as clean and sim­ple as it gets — just fol­low the lessons down each path and you’re pretty much guar­an­teed to walk away with a bet­ter grasp of cod­ing.

You will need to sign in with a Google ac­count, though. If you cruise through Grasshop­per,

Google has also an­nounced a part­ner­ship with on­line train­ing por­tals Cours­era and Launch­code for those want­ing to con­tinue their cod­ing ed­u­ca­tion.

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