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KineScript: Visual Programming
Pros: Lots of examples enhance the powerful programming features.
Cons: Not enough documentation to explain the confusing interface.
Bottom Line: With lots of learn-to-program options on the market, learning on the iPad is not ideal.
For a classroom teacher looking to use iPads in an intro to programming class, KineScript might fit this niche. Complex enough to require a teacher -- or a very dedicated student -- to master it, the system lacks many of the supports of other learn-to-program tools. And while it's possible to email projects off the iPad, it's not clear how to go about loading them someplace else. As a result, the app would be best used as an activity for students running it on a dedicated machine.
KineScript: Visual Programming provides learners with an empty stage, temping them to drag cartoon actors onto the screen, link them to behaviors and scripted logic, and enjoy the results. The point-and-click interface rarely requires typing and sends would-be programmers sliding from screen to screen to access images, animations, sounds, and code blocks. String it all together, and the result is a simple multimedia program like a basic game, drawing activity, or interactive point-and-click scene.
Downloadable examples allow the newcomer to jump right in. A quick click loads one of the seven pre-fab programs, and another click sets them in motion. A slide to the right and players turn into programmers, with full access to the drag-and-drop code to see how it's all put together and to modify as the player sees fit.
Based on the same LEGO-like code blocks made famous by the Scratch programming environment, KineScript presents a friendly face to the student interested in multimedia code. But what looks simple at first turns into all manner of hidden and nested option screens. Often, tapping on the on-screen elements opens up additional configuration screens, inspectors, and input interfaces. The end result is a surprising level of difficultly from an app that looked so simple at the start.