Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Easy Programming Part 2 - Star Logo TNG

A week or so ago I blogged about Squeak and mentioned I'd be mentioning another easy programming language. Well, here it is. Star Logo TNG is a 3D implementation of Star Logo. This is my first experience with Star Logo and I have to say it is pretty fun.

I know Star Logo goes way back in education, but I've never used it before so I can't comment on it. Star Logo TNG is very easy and is visual. You simply drag the blocks that you want and lock them together like puzzle pieces. Not all pieces will fit together, so you can't implement code that has no chance of working.

I worked through a couple of the tutorials before really putting it through it's paces. It helped that I've programmed before as the tutorials are not the best. I ended up trying to model the relationship between trees, moose, and wolves on Isle Royale so I wouldn't need EcoBeaker if I ever teach environmental science again. It is pretty cool as there are already 3D models of trees and wolves. There were no moose like animals so I just went with the default turtles.

It wasn't too bad. I was able to get it to run and you can even generate graphs of the number of various critters you have. I did manage to see the classic predator-prey graph. I did run into a couple of problems. The bots move to fast. They seem to be more teleporting than moving. Additionally, once you have lots of bots to keep track of the program became very unstable. Too unstable to use this particular program in a classroom setting. I may have to try implementing it in the older 2D Star Logo.

I ran this on both my MacBook (1.83 GHz, 512 RAM) and my WinXP Desktop machine (3 GHz P4, 512 RAM, 256 Video RAM). I seemed to have the same stability issues on both machines.

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