Learn to Code … with a Mobile App?

Posted on April 19, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Dev, iOS, Mobile with 23 Comments

Learn to Code ... with a Mobile App?

A new app for Android and iOS promises to teach you basic JavaScript programming skills. Does it work?

I’m not sure yet, as I just found out about it. But given the importance of learning JavaScript these days, I thought I’d at least mention it. After all, you might be slightly interested in heading down this path, but need a more bite-sized way to get started. Perhaps this thing will work a bit like Duolingo, the language-learning app I’ve been using for years.

Anyway, the app is called Grasshopper. It’s available for both Android and iOS, and it’s free.

“Grasshopper was created by a team of passionate coders from Google’s workshop for experimental products, Area 120,” the Grasshopper site explains. “Coding is becoming such an essential skill, and we want to make it possible for everyone to learn even when life gets busy. We made Grasshopper to help folks like you get into coding in a fun and easy way. And we put Grasshopper on a phone so you can turn your commute or waiting in line into a learning moment. We hope you like it and that it helps you embark or continue your journey in learning to code.”

I installed the app on my Google Pixel 2 XL and stepped through the opening wizard, which eventually asks if you’ve coded before. I have, so I suspect that it was smart enough to adjust the difficulty level a bit. That said, it still appears to be pretty basic. Which is understandable.

After running through the initial lesson, you choose a practice schedule, similar to how Duolingo works. I will try to use the app daily, but you can choose every other day, twice per week, or no reminders.

As to whether you can learn to program this way, well. No, of course, you can’t: If you want to learn to code, you need to code. And code. And keep coding. But this does seem to work somewhat like Duolingo in that you can fill your off minutes learning something instead of wasting that time. And it may be just what the real beginner needs to take the next step.

I will try to use this daily to find out.


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