A children's game out of the MIT laboratories, called Scratch, is made to help teach children the underlying principles of coding, though it is useful for adults as well if they're relative beginners with coding. Scratch works by giving kids a graphical interface where they can stack and interlock commands and objects to create various functions. The newest version of the popular game will be created with Google's help, according to an announcement from MIT on Thursday. While Google will be collaborating with MIT to improve and iterate on the main game, the main focus of Google's involvement will be to make it easier for outside developers to create experiences for Scratch using tools called "Scratch Blocks".
The code for these new Scratch Blocks will be open-sourced. The Scratch Blocks support two different implementation methods in their use, or "grammars". While the normal version of Scratch sees bits of code stacking vertically, there are also bits that interlock horizontally and are labelled with icons, targeted to the younger crowd. In the interest of maximizing reach and effectiveness, Scratch Blocks will support both. According to MIT's announcement, they hope to see Scratch blocks and the Scratch learning method catch on and maximize its worldwide impact. In today's world, where coding is destined to become a skill nearly as important as reading, this is a noble goal. Thus far, with roughly 11 million members and about 15,000 new signups per day, that goal seems to be coming along fairly well, but there is always room to improve the game itself and its community.
With the rise of this new method of allowing developers and community members to create new experiences using scratch, the game and the concept can only expand from here. MIT's announcement reveals that the reason they chose to collaborate with Google on the new version of Scratch and the creation of Scratch Blocks goes beyond their expertise; the developers of Scratch and Google share a common ideal of coding, seeing it as a valuable skill in society, no matter who you are, and an outlet of creative expression, much like playing music or creating art. The horizontally stacking version of Scratch Blocks will be released today while the vertical version will be in development a bit longer.