Neil's News

Blockly Rising

31 December 2013

A year and a half ago I released Blockly, and wrote:

"Blockly still has a long way to go, but at least it's now out in the open. Oh, and it's open source, so dig in and build something with it!"

And that's what people did. Blockly has been translated to 43 languages. MIT's App Inventor replaced their previous visualisation (which had interesting bugs) with Blockly. Play-i are building Blockly-controlled robots for children. Other Blockly-controlled robots showed up in a TED talk and in a European factory. GigaBryte are creating Blockly-programmed wearable accessories. And code.org used Blockly to teach programming to over twenty thousand children this month.

Not bad for a project that was once dead. Fairly early in the development process Blockly was cancelled and I was reassigned to work on something else. I believed in Blockly's potential and refused. So I took the only available option and expended all my accrued vacation. Every day I'd come into the office and work on Blockly. After two months I was able to give a demo. My managers were impressed, uncancelled the project, and retroactively gave me back my vacation. Yet another example of why I love Google.

When I started this project I never imagined that videos would appear by Mark Zuckerburg explaining how to create loops in Blockly, or by Bill Gates explaining how to create conditionals in Blockly. There is still a long way to go, but Blockly is showing promise.

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