Column-4: Pros and Cons of Visual Programming Languages

Scratch is a visual programming language in which programming is done with blocks, which are visual objects.

We are often asked by adults who know Scratch, “At what point should I transition to a textual language such as Python? We have a student at our school who creates high-level simulation games and other games in Scratch. If it is easier to make a game in Scratch, he will use Scratch. The important thing is the output, and I am not particular about the text language.

I don’t think that using a textual language will help you create a higher level game or something. If you want to make something and another text language is more suitable than Scratch, you can start learning that text language. If what you want to create can be realized in Scratch, there is no need to force students to learn a text language.

As of Jul 2023, Scratch has over 100 million registered users, and the number is still growing by several hundred per month. Not all registered users have mastered Scratch, but it is a remarkable number. In the near future, we will see software and appliances that can be customized in the Scratch-based language. Personally, I would like to see it applied to assistive devices as well. Every disability type is different, and it is difficult to provide a welfare device that matches every user, but if retailers and users can customize the sensitivity and speed of electric motors using Scratch, they will have a wider range of options.

This is a bit off topic, but the Scratch experience itself could be useful in the future. However, according to Scratch statistics, 36 million people in the U.S. and 7 million people in the U.K., or about 10% of the total population, have a Scratch account, while only 1.8 million people in Japan, or 1.8% of the total population, have an account.

Could the low usage rate in Japan be due to a lack of appreciation for the visual programming language? Once you see the work of praplane, one of the popular Scratchers, I would like you to take a look at his work.

In my opinion, Scratch is the best for high school programming classes as well as elementary and middle school classes for all students. Text language classes are too much of a burden on students, and with good use of Scratch, students can learn enough of the scientific views and ideas that are necessary in an information society.

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