Google’s Grasshopper helps you learn basic coding through play.

Coding seems to be all the rage these days. Seemingly limitless articles explain why coding is becoming the new must-have skill, and how not knowing that at least a little code is going to severely limit your future job prospects.

But where to start ? There are so many computer languages ​​to learn and so many ways to learn them.

Believe it or not (believe it more than likely), Google wants to help you get a taste of coding, but in a more “non-coding” environment. Instead of an empty command line staring at you, prompting you to create a bug-ridden script, Google wants to give you a first taste of coding in the form of a mobile game.

So they brought us Grasshopper, an Android game whose sole purpose is to teach you basic coding, in the form of a multi-level Android game.

Grasshopper has been in beta for quite some time and has just been released by Google on the Play Store. Grasshopper helps you learn the basics of JavaScript, a primary language used by websites around the world.

A product of Google’s “120 zone”, where employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time on side projects they deem valuable and potential products, Grasshopper takes you on a puzzle-like game adventure, leading to an introduction to very beginner level terms. and layout, progressing deeper into increasingly difficult topics and coding scenarios.

Gameplay

To take advantage of Grasshopper, start with download app from the Play Store. Once inside the app, you can take a super-short mini-course called “What is coding?”. Then you dive straight into learning JavaScript, through a sequential series of coding puzzles to solve. The puzzles are divided into units.

Google spends the first two puzzles in each unit teaching you a principle or tactic in JavaScript, with one puzzle easier to solve. Then you are offered one or two more puzzles to solve on your own.

If you ever get stuck, the game gives you quick access to a forum. Here you can investigate other people’s problems and puzzle solutions at your fingertips.

When you complete the unit coding puzzle series, you then have one or two quiz level puzzles to solve. Once you’ve shown your ability by solving them, you take your newfound expertise to the next unit. From there, you build on it with the next topic or principle.

Visuals and sound

Grasshopper’s look and sound, though a unique palette of earthy blues and greens, still has a Google-esque feel. The type and backgrounds are very clean and clear, and the limited animations are cute almost to the point of goofy.

Sound/audio is minimal to non-existent. But I really liked it, coding is a pretty lonely and quiet business. Also, silence (I believe) helps with concentration and thinking during a particularly difficult puzzle.

What we didn’t like

If there’s a problem with Grasshopper, it’s that using it on a phone leaves the visible code a bit hard to follow. On a computer, the code is long strings, as expected. Reading from left to right is a fairly natural affair.

On phones or similar small-screen Android devices, it’s a different story. A rotation locked in portrait orientation splits code into multiple lines. Specific tables and other character combinations are split into two or more horizontal lines. The resulting orphan brackets, parentheses, and alphanumeric strings can make some codes particularly difficult to understand. If landscape orientation were available, that would alleviate a lot of that frustration.

Globally

Grasshopper is generally a very, very good introduction for beginners of all ages to the world of coding and JavaScript. Google has done a great job of making coding exploration very accessible. The visuals are pleasing to the eye and provide many opportunities and ways to master any given topic. If you’re keen to try coding, or if your child would love to try it, Grasshopper is a highly recommended option.

Download Grasshopper from the Play Store here.

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