Thursday, July 10, 2014

Why is MIT Making such a lame version of Scratch ( version 2 ) ?

Friday, January 24, 2014 5:09:14 AM

Things i already Hate about Scratch 2

i’ve been fussing with that rant for some time, & awhile ago; i deleted ( with some effort ! ) Scratch 2 from my big-box, because i discovered that MIT had removed some basic functionality that was in version 1.4 from version 2 ( !!! ) Whuck ! Why would they make it decidedly stupider !!! ( ??? )

Then i discovered something else that was even more disturbing.

Firstly; Scratch has developed something of an expansive cult following, as attested by The countless members in scratch that have contributed many hundreds of thousands of clever programs, but

When i went to look for any critical Appraisals, Blogs or Rants about Scratch, Specifically The Fiasco of Scratch 2

i could Not find any on Google !

How could this be ?

i only looked through 3 or 4 pages of The search results, but it was fairly clear that there were only a certain kind of articles coming up

How could, Who could be Censoring any Discussion about Scratch &/or Scratch 2 ( ? )

This is why i think/believe that The Internet is something very much what it is Not. Or Not what we ( you ) think it is.

It is a much more controlled & Edited Collection of Bilge than you may believe it -Must- Be. ( ? ) !!!

- - -

i just / just discovered ( April 2014 ) that MIT has Removed Scratch 2 from their Scratch Site ( ! ) ?

You can only download Scratch 1.4 now !

( This may Not be entirely correct; The Scratch Site is Not Very Friendly in terms of finding anything that you’re looking for !

As i have noticed innumerable times before, most noticeably with AOL, The Mac OS & Firefox; Each new & improved version has an entirely new set of frustrating features to replace The Old features that actually seemed to work perfectly well.

- -

i just discovered that The Way to Convert a Scratch 1.4 Program to a Scratch 2 Program is to Simply Change The Object’s Extension from to Application.sb2

- - -

i have Now noticed that some of my old Scratch 1.4 Programs will load using The above method, & some will Not ( ? ) !

- - -

The Features that used to allow you to step through The program one line at a time was removed !

- - -

When you give The Program a Name, it doesn’t appear at The Top of The WindowPane; That’s reserved for Scratch Advertising, The Name is below that & to The Left, where it can easily be overlooked.

- - -

There’s a lot of things that are Divergent from The Orthodoxy of Apple Programming Uniformity. This Uniformity was Created & Most Programmers Adhere to it for The Simple Reason that anyone Using any Macintosh/Apple Program will be able to Open it and Use Nearly All of The Elemental Functions without having to Read The Applications Documentation, which curiously; Many Devices & Applications No Longer Include or Provide with them.

Many of The Devices &/or Applications that i’ve come across in The Last few years don’t even provide a simple .pdf with Instructions or Documentation,

The Only Venue for Learning how to Use it, Is to Thread your way through dozens of poorly arranged Videos that you can only view while connected to The Internet. ( !  )

But Scratch 2 doesn’t even have that !

- - -

When you Save a Program, there’s so indication that it’s been Saved, or Not Saved.

- - -

When you Highlight something in A Programming Block, Such as The Text or Value in Variable Pane; The Highlight Color is a Very, Very Pale Blue, & it is just about Impossible to know until you try & Change it, if it’s even Highlighted ( ! ) ?

- - -

i have also noticed that Scratch 2 doesn’t & Can’t make a Distinction between Capital & Lower Case Letters. With most any other Programming Language, you can ask what The Numerical Code of a Letter is; Thereby distinguishing it from any other, but with Scratch 2, all Alphabetic Characters are of one kind. A is Different from M, but A & a are The Same. ( ! )

- - -

This one Makes me Completely Crazy!

You can Process Trans128 ASCII Characters in The Program,

& they will Appear Correctly :

e.g.; Sámuel

But when you Attempt to Export These Characters in A Formatted List; They will Appear Transformed !!!

e.g.; S√°muel

- - -

Programs that have been converted must then be Opened & Saved as a ‘Native’ Scratch 2 Program.

Even so; The New S2 program will run V        ERY Slowly. Like 1% of The Original Scratch 1.4s Speed.

And it will be UnResponsive to Any Attempts to Examine The Activity of Internal Scripts while it’s Running,

Plus; It may be Running & It’s very ambiguous whether it is running or Not. Apparently, The Stop Sign is Much Darker than The ‘Red’ it Used to be; If The Program is Running.

The Green ( Looks Black ) Flag does Not Change its Appearance.

There is No Indication that The Programming is Running or Not !

Which is Annoying if The Program has periods in which it is Thinking, but Not Doing Anything. I used to Include a little something that would reveal if The Programming is thinking, but with Version 1.4, this was superfluous, Now; with Version 2, it’s Mandatory. ( ! )

: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - : o

They ( MIT under The Sponsorship of M$ ) are still Not making The Macintosh Version of Scratch ( 2 ) Compliant with The Macintosh OS Generic Functionality Guidelines; e.g.; When you save something, or to indicate The something isn’t saved; The UpperLeftHand Red Dot is Not Responsive to this Function. It’s just sitting up there, It doesn’t reflect whether The Application has been Saved or Not; & The Menu’s in The UpperMost Screen Display are also Inactivated. Only The Menus in The Scratch Window itself are functional, without The Usual Shortcuts.

Also; Many of The Generic Window Scrolling Features, Such as Mouse Scrolling from The Middle of a Window doesn’t work. You can only Scroll from The Side Bars.

Or Actually; The Middle Pane Scrolling works sometimes, but at Other Times, Doesn’t !

Or you can Scroll up & down, but Not side to side !

: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - : o

i’ve been a big fan of Scratch 1.4 for several years now, & although it’s a very simplistic programing language, if you keep at it, & fill in enough gaps, you can do some very fun things with it.

This is Not to suggest that it’s Not very Frustrating at times, But since it’s The Only Programming Language that isn’t C++¹  that i’ve been able to find, It works Good Enough.
- -

¹ Or Even Crazier, like X-Code, Python, Dashcode or Quartz which are all supposed to be very easy, but they are Not at all, And Most Surprisingly, i Can Not find anyone or any institution to get me ‘Started’ on any of them. i have found a few other Languages that looked promising; Such as Chipmunk BASIC & Squeak, but they had substantial short comings. All in All, Scratch is Very Easy to Learn & Work with, & for my purposes, Satisfactory, 80% of The Time.

: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - : o

One thing that i generically Hate about any New & Improved Version of Anything is when The New Version is decidedly inferiour to The Previous Version in some respect.

Apple’s OS Tiger; for Example allowed all ‘Alias’s to be Used Exactly like Their Originals in The ‘Dock’. But then Leopard, SnowLeopard & Lion broke that, & Apple hasn’t fixed it yet ( ? )

: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - : o

But today; This Rant is Concerned with MIT’s Scratch 2.

Scratch is a programming Language intended for very young children; Say First & Second Graders.

So Naturally; Like Teletubbies, It has attracted a Fanatical Following of College Students & Other Adults.

Version 1 through 1.4 persisted for many years, without substantial improvements, & during this time, its followers suggested hundreds, if Not thousands of ways that it could be improved upon.

When Version 2 finally came out; Only one improvement was made, along with a few other trivial changes, & Initially, One Deal Breaker Change, which they have now Rectified.²

The One Real Improvement was The Inclusion of The Build Your Own Block, which is Essentially The Ability to Add Subroutines.

You could do something very much like this with Version 1.4, but in a slightly less elegant manner than BYOB.

: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - : o

Continuing Problems that were NOT Fixed.

When you Add a Comment to The Programming Window & Then Save The Sprite ( which contains that Program ) as an Independent Entity, The Comment is Deleted ( !!! )

There is only One Tier to Undo, which Scratch calls; UnDelete.

For a Application intended for Small Children, This is Deeply Unforgivable.

Further; UnDelete is Not Undo. It is something else. It has never worked in a way that i wanted it to !

Removing a Block from inside a Programming Column remains a Huge Problem, Even more so with Scratch 2. With Scratch 1.4, You could at least limit The Amount below The Point of Deletion, But Scratch 2 ONLY allows you Delete Everything below The Selected Block.

The Work around for this is to pull The Column Apart, then Delete The Desired Column of Instructions, Then Reassemble it. This is Not an Extreme Problem for A Simple Sequence of Programming Blocks, but if it’s for Embedded Blocks that Use Loops or Boolean Logical Paths, it can a huge nuisance !

The Necessary Procedure requires that you Save The Program, Make a Change & Then Rename it with The Desired Original Name if The Deletion went well. Otherwise you have to Trash your Attempted Changed Version, Open The Original Saved Version & try again with a New Saved As Version.

The Math Engine which required Substantial work arounds in Version 1.4, seems to have been fixed ! ( ? )

The ReSizing Dealie seems to be better. That is; When you want to Make a Sprite Bigger or Smaller, there is Less Distortion or Pixel Amnesia. /

( Later ) No this is Not Correct; The Resizing Feature is still severely dysfunctional, The Most annoying thing is that The Imported Sprite Graphics aren’t Anti-Aliased. Graphics Transferred & Reduced suffer greatly from Jaggies ! This is most Egregious with Text on Control Buttons.

It can be Fixed a little bit, By Creating The Desired Graphic much bigger than Desired, as a Gif, then Blur it out a little, then convert it to a .png, Which is apparently The Only Format Scratch will Accept without doing something Crazy to it !

( More Later ) i’ve experienced some New Problems with The ReSizing Feature; in which it Cuts off The Top & Bottom of The Selected Sprite ( ? ) !!!

Speaking of ReSizing; You can’t Create an Isolated Pane of Just The Running Program. Ordinarily; The Running Program exists alongside all of The Other Programming Panes. You can Fill The Entire Computer Display with The Running Program, but Not as a Pane that you can move around on The Screen, like any other Application.

It might be nice if Each Section were on a Unique Pane, like with Pathways into Darkness. That way, you could resize each one to The desired size that you wanted.

Which would be Exceptionally Desirable for The Running Program & Also The Programming Pane. The Programming Pane is Always too Cramped, Even when you use The Larger Version of this pane.

This might lead to some Confusion or Muddling of your ‘Whole’ Display Work Area, But The Advantages overweigh this.

Also; The Little Dots in The Upper Left Hand Corner of Every Application Pane, Doesn’t work with Scratch. The Red ‘Saved’ Dot doesn’t show whether The Program has been saved or Not.

It’s still very tedious to write long programs, because when you fill up The Programming Window, it requires a substantial effort of teasing to resize The Window to make it bigger.

Curiously; You can Zoom in or Out of The Programming Window, But when you Zoom Out to Make The Programming Blocks Smaller, they are UnReadable.

It seem to me that Any Document, whether in Scratch or any other Text or Graphical Application that i’ve used, becomes ‘Full’, The Window Automatically Resizes itself to provide an additional ‘Gap’ that is then available to add more content to.

This effect can be seen most readily when you’re typing in any conventional word processor, & you reach The bottom of The page, it thereafter only adds one line at a time to accommodate more text. i find that this process makes me feel ‘Cramped’, So i routinely add a few dozen lines below where i’m typing, so that these ‘Blank’ lines are pushed down, providing me with plenty of empty space below where i’m typing.

In Scratch; You have to add a null block, move it little below The bottom edge, resize, move, resize, move, resize & so on. This can be accelerated slightly by crating a column of null blocks to push The Bottom down a little faster, But The Necessity of this Process is Just Wrong, & it’s irritating.

- - -

i’ve been working on my first big project with Scratch 2 now, & using The Paint Editor for The Sprites is a Nightmare.

If you create something off platform, with a different application, such as pages, you have to then import it to Scratch 2 as a .png, which isn’t awful, but it is frustrating that i had to figure this out. It’s Not like it’s in The Documentation somewhere, because there is No Documentation.

Also; The Resolution of your graphics is remarkably degraded when it gets to Scratch 2.

When using The Paint Editor, it is also very annoying that when you’re using The paint brush, & The Paint color is Red, ( any Color ) & The Field area is Red, The Paint Brush, which is just a Square Pixel, Disappears. To Paint in or near The Field of Red, you have to work your way into it from an edge !

Also; All of The Paint Tools don’t have a Unique Screen Pointer, so that there’s No Feedback of What Tool you’re using.

If you’re using The Eraser, It’s invisible unless you’ve made The Eraser area really big.

: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - : o

² Changes from Version 1.4 to Scratch 2

Initially; When Scratch 2 was released, you could ONLY use it on The Cloud. You couldn’t download a version of it & write programs in The privacy of your own bathroom. No. MIT decided that All programming had to be done in A Gymnasium with Programming Patrol Officers looking over your shoulder to make sure you weren’t writing any heretical programs that Homeland Security didn’t approve of.

It may still work that way, routinely sending reports back to MIT & M$, which is a Financial Contributor to The Scratch Program, but at least when they do it secretively, i can pretend that they’re Not doing it at all.

Other Changes :

The Make Your Own Brick

Some New Sensor Routines that work with your Built in Camera.

A Few ‘Sensors’ that watch what The program itself is doing ! These are useful to make it easier for The Inattentive Programmer to do lots of different things within a program, while Not having to keep track of them, as you would with an ‘Ordinary’ programming Environment ( ! ) ?

Recursive Programming, which Scratch calls; Cloning, Or maybe Cloning is something else.

- -

Since i’ve Now deleted Scratch 2 from my computer, i can No longer make any comments about it ( ! )

No comments: