[IAEP] Etoys or Scratch?

Steve Thomas sthomas1 at gosargon.com
Mon Mar 5 19:41:23 EST 2012


You may want to talk with Mike Lee who did some amazing work with the Lubuto
Project <http://www.lubuto.org/> using Etoys.

So here are the pro's and con's of each platform if your are trying to
solve the problems of:

> animation, sound, possible narration, interaction and all that sort of
> thing. The text and sound in the end product would be translated into many
> target languages. The project might be done by youth with little or no
> prior programming experience.

I will try and be as objective as possible, but I am prejudiced towards
Etoys, so please get other opinions.


   - I will classify animation in two parts:
      - Animating individual Sprites/Players
         - Scratch: simpler UI and interface for kids. Use multiple
         costumes and iterate over them using next costume.  Scratch
also has glide
         tile which Etoys does not (although it can be done, but we
would have to
         create some projects to make this simpler).
         - Etoys: Done with holders, there are other very nice and clever
         ways, but not for use with kids with little to no experience.
The advantage
         of the Etoys method is the kids can "see" the iteration as you iterate
         through the holder. The disadvantage of this approach is that
if you have a
         lot of "cells" in your animation you may not be able to see
them all at
         once.  Scratch, autosizes the "costumes" so you can see more
on one screen.
         - My Bottom line: Scratch simpler for kids. Etoys lets them "see
         the iteration" which is probably not our main goal :)
      - Synchonizing Animations over time
         - Scratch: Syncronizing animations in Scratch is much easier
         (thanks to the wait, broadcast and wait, say/think for x secs and play
         sound until done.
         - Etoys: It can be done in Etoys, but not as simple. If you do
         choose Etoys, we should provide you with a special set of "hand made
         scripting tiles" to make certain types of animation synchronization
         - My Bottom Line: Scratch wins.

Sound (Here referring to sounds such as "Musical Instruments", will talk
about recorded voice under narration):

   - Scratch: Has pre-samples instruments included.
   - Etoys: You would have to record the music and then play the sound.
    Some issues with reverb (which can be handled) and really needs a “Play
   until done” or something to prevent the problem that can occur where when
   for example you have a play sound on mouse down, if they mouse down,
   multiple times it plays the same sound over itself.

Possible Narration (at least as how it differs from what I will call basic

   - Scratch: can record and play narration
   - Etoys: also can record and play narration, key issue is
   synchronization with other events. Can be done, but not simple “out of the
   box” we can support you with special tiles, but synchronization really
   should be much easier.


   - Scratch: react to the following events - mouse down, key pressed,
   clicked (this is mouse up in Etoys), color sensing and overlapping other
   objects.. Mouse over can be detecte but needs scripting. Ask tile pre-build
   in Scratch.
   - Etoys: react to the above events, plus Mouse up simpler, and also
   mouse enter, mouse leave, mouse still down, mouse enter dragging something,
   mouse leaving dragging something, color sensing and overlapping other
   objects. Connected to and Disconnected from. In Etoys you need to build
   your own Ask tile.
   - My bottom line: tie, both are good, Etoys has a few extra events it
   can sense, connecting can be powerful, but in general both good.

Text Translation:

   - Scratch: Need to Translate text by creating seperate projects.
   - Etoys: Text translation automatic when you change languages (not not
   auto translation, but if in English and enter Hello then switch to
   Spnish and change text to Hola. The text will auto-switch when you
   change languages.
   - Bottom Line: If you make a “animation change” after you have
   translated text, in Etoys you make the change in one project, with Scratch
   you would have to make the changes in all projects or re-enter the text.
    Having said that Narration changes, may negate that advantage, but I think
   we can solve that problem if you choose Etoys, need to think about it more.

Narration Translation:

   - In both cases you will obviously need to record the different
   translations. Tie.

Being done by "youth with little or no prior programming experience":

   - My bottom line: Scratch has a  much better designed scripting tiles,
   easier to use and learn.  Etoys is more “powerful” (sorry, but too large of
   a topic and too little time to provide details here), the question is will
   kids use this power. I think not.  Only possible advantage is if you do
   something like I believe Mike Lee did with the Lubuto project where you
   create some pre-built projects using the power of Etoys, to make the
   creation of your final results easier.

One more thing to consider: How well will each system handle change?
For example, you have created your projects, done the text and narration
changes, when all of a sudden you realize there is a "bug" in one of the
interactions. You have translated it into 50 languages (congratulations!!!)
but now you have to go back and change 50 projects :(. Here the text
translation capabilities built into Etoys is a big advantage as you have
one project that contains all the text. But, if you have narration
challenges, you probably don't want to store all the translations in one
project (file would be too big). I would need to think about this more and
an email to the etoys list would be good (unless anyone wants to answer

Also when designing a curricullum or project like this with kids, you need
to ask what you want to make hard and what you want to make easy. With
Etoys, you can build tools, that help make certain parts easier for kids
(and the adults who help them).

My Bottom Bottom line: If you have little to no support from the community,
Scratch wins and you should use it. If you can get support from the Etoys
community (which you can, I for one would be glad to help) you can build
tools within Etoys projects to overcome some of its shortcomings.

All that said, in the end it's content that matters, not the tool. So
whichever you choose, I am sure you and the kids will do well.

Hope this helps,
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