Squeak Etoys

Etoys is a free and open source application of SqueakSmalltalk designed to be a fully programmable and explorable multi-threaded graphical environment for learning. Teachers and after-school clubs report using it successfully with primary and secondary school students.

Development and use are co-ordinated by the SqueaklandFoundation?, which has the most recent packages for download. Etoys can be installed on a wide range of platforms, and ready-to-use packages are available for Windows, Mac and Linux (deb and rpm).

Etoys is an activity on the SugarPlatform?, and is therefore distributed by the OneLaptopPerChild project. History

Etoys was built into SqueakSmalltalk from the very beginning in 1996. Squeak and Etoys were developed at AppleComputer in the early 1990s by a team led by AlanKay, that came to be known as SqueakCentral?. In 1996, Apple released the completed system with full source code and a very liberal license. SqueakCentral? then moved to DisneyImagineering where development continued. For example JohnMaloney? added a suite of Etoys objects for MusicSynthesis? in 1998. SqueakCentral?'s home on the web became http://squeak.org Eventually, Squeak and Disney parted company, and Alan Kay founded the ViewPointsResearchInstitute?, a non-profit, that became the home of Squeak and Etoys.

Customized distributions of Squeak began to be released specially for Etoys users. These came to be housed at the Squeakland website, http://squeakland.org where teachers and students could also showcase their work as applications that could be downloaded or run from the web with the Squeak browser plugin. Under the stewardship of VPRI, Etoys development continued. NedKonz wrote Connectors which is a framework and Etoys application for drawing diagrams. ( http://www2.computer.org/portal/web/csdl/doi/10.1109/C5.2004.1314375 , http://wiki.squeak.org/squeak/1773 http://squeak.pbworks.com/Connector-Tutorial ). YoshikiOhshima? wrote Kedama, a MicroWorld? for simulating large numbers, say thousands, of similar objects, such as gas particles, a population suffering an epidemic, or trees in a forest fire. (http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1092381 ). Connectors and Kedama were added to the Squeakland distribution.

In 2006 and 2007, VPRI added many new features to Etoys which made it a more useful activity on the XO laptop of OneLaptopPerChild. For example, in this period Etoys gained internationalization and numerous translations, a Sugar toolbar, a D-Bus interface, a built-in gallery of projects and tutorials, and simplified file system interfaces. By 2009, Etoys had been distributed on over one million rugged laptops for children in developing countries.

By 2008, VPRI had become focused on other Squeak-based research (such as 3D collaboration environments OpenCroquet and OpenCobalt?, and an effort to develop a fully-discoverable computer system in just 10,000 lines of code.) In 2008 the SqueaklandFoundation? was formed to be solely focussed on the development and support of Etoys as an educational tool.

Until 2008, Etoys was distributed under the SqueakLicense?, which was usually considered not to be quite FreeSoftware or OpenSource. However, Apple and other contributors re-licensed their code, so that Etoys 4.0 is fully MIT licensed. (See also SqueakRelicensePush.)

Language

The Morphic tile scripting language was developed for Etoys by JohnMaloney?, who had earlier created the MorphicInterface as a graphical toolkit for the SelfLanguage. Morphic is designed for direct manipulation. The tile language is a classless (or prototypical) object-oriented language, with a syntax similar to Smalltalk. Each graphical object can have one or more scripts that affect its behaviour. Users make scripts by dragging and dropping tiles. They can often use the mouse to make tiles that represent objects on their screen. This allows a script to look up a property of another object, or to send a messages to another object. Users don't need to type when programming, as tiles have a wide range of functionality, though scripts can also be written with a text editor in a language that is, in essence, Smalltalk.

Discussion

I love Etoys, and I love the vision of AlanKay and KimRose? to communicate PowerfulIdeas? to children even more. Though the 2009 version of Etoys is very slick and reliable, it is just as malleable as ever, with tons of little toys to play with, build and reprogram.

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