Discuss Scratch

comp09
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

https://stevekrouse.com/scratch-has-a-marketing-problem-f84626bd18ef

It's interesting how much of what the author brings up reflects what I have experienced with Scratch. Scratch's limitations pose interesting challenges (and of course is as hard as “real programming”), but others see what Scratch looks like and think it's a joke…


Visit the website of Andrew Sun!


PullJosh
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

Very interesting stuff. I've seen this a lot even in my own life (talking to people irl). It's an interesting issue, but not one that I have the solution for. Perhaps, however, this is a sign that the direction Scratch 3.0 is heading in is a bad one? I've seen a lot of complaints about the new humongous blocks, and I've had some myself as well. I'd like to speak directly to the Scratch team here:

I'm not one to resist change. I'm happy to see things evolve over time. When Scratch switched from 1.4 to 2.0, I was overjoyed. But Scratch 3.0 is turning too Duplo. I know it's awfully late now, but can we please consider shrinking down the blocks and making things a bit more professional? I've seen the (admittedly irrational) avoidance of the seemingly simple time and time again, particularly while teaching Scratch summer camps, and the way Scratch is headed is going to push this even further. The older you get, the younger other people will seem. But everyone, in their own mind, is an adult, and wants to be treated like one. Cute jumbo blocks aren't going to attract anyone (beyond the Scratch Jr crowd), and they're hugely* impractical. What's the benefit of large vertical blocks? Everyone hates them. Can we please ignore sunk costs and shrink things down a bit?

* heh
Jonathan50
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

Why would students think less visually appealing means harder?

Last edited by Jonathan50 (April 26, 2017 00:37:28)

PullJosh
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

Jonathan50 wrote:

Why would students think less visually appealing means harder?
It doesn't necessarily have to do with visual appeal, just stylistic choices.

For example: The following two websites are both well designed and visually appealing, but one definitely looks more sophisticated than the other.

Jonathan50
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

PullJosh wrote:

It doesn't necessarily have to do with visual appeal, just stylistic choices.

For example: The following two websites are both well designed and visually appealing, but one definitely looks more sophisticated than the other
Okay, thanks. I like rounded corners though
__init__
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

Interesting read, and I totally agree.

When I first discovered Scratch at the age of around 9, I was looking for ways to get into programming, and I found Scratch as well as a program called RoboMind. RoboMind looked like this -

This looks much more professional than Scratch; maybe something that a real programmer might use. It was not much more than a turtle graphics program; you wrote code to make a robot move around a maze, and it couldn't do much more. But it attracted me much more than Scratch as it was “real” code that you wrote in a professional looking interface, not colourful blocks that looked as if they were designed for babies (and Scratch 3.0 is definitely going in the wrong direction with this). After figuring out that RoboMind wasn't all that great and powerful as I had thought it to be, I reluctantly switched over to Scratch and discovered that it could do much more - it just looked like it sucked. If it had been more greyscale, sharp, professional looking, etc I probably would have given it more of a try at first.

thisandagain pls explain
comp09
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

Speaking of how the site looks…

Here's a tiny userstyle to make Scratch ever-so-slightly more grown-up.

@-moz-document domain('scratch.mit.edu') {
  #navigation, .dropdown, #topnav .innerwrap, #topnav ul.account-nav .logged-in-user .dropdown-menu, #topnav li.logout.divider input, .blockpost div.box {
    background-color: #001f3f;
  }
  #topnav ul.site-nav li, #topnav ul.account-nav.logged-in > li {
    border-left-color: #000;
  }
  #topnav ul.site-nav li.last, #topnav ul.account-nav > li:last-child {
    border-right-color: #000;
  }
  #topnav ul.account-nav ul.user-nav li.logout.divider, .blockpost .box-head, .blockpost div.box {
    border-top-color: #000;
  }
  a, a:link, a:visited, .news li h4 {
    color: #001f3f;
  }
  a:hover {
    color: #001030;
  }
  
  #view {
    background-color: #fff;
  }
  
  html, body {
    background-image: initial;
  }
  
  .box {
    box-shadow: initial;
  }
}

I'm going to call it “Adult Scratch.”

Last edited by comp09 (April 26, 2017 01:46:53)



Visit the website of Andrew Sun!


MrFlash67
Scratcher
500+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

comp09 wrote:

Speaking of how the site looks…

Here's a tiny userstyle to make Scratch ever-so-slightly more grown-up.

--

I'm going to call it “Adult Scratch.”


For those interested, but too lazy to install it:



PS1='C:${PWD//\//\\\}>'
Jonathan50
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

MrFlash67 wrote:

For those interested, but too lazy to install it:
I got a message and saw this post probably less than a minute after installing it 0_0

It's nice, pretty high-contrast
gtoal
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

comp09 wrote:

https://stevekrouse.com/scratch-has-a-marketing-problem-f84626bd18ef

It's interesting how much of what the author brings up reflects what I have experienced with Scratch. Scratch's limitations pose interesting challenges (and of course is as hard as “real programming”), but others see what Scratch looks like and think it's a joke…

I think the author's mistake is that he assumes everyone can eventually learn programming if only they are taught properly or use the right tools.

Personally I think there are a lot of people who will just never get it even if they spend their entire lives programming, In fact I know some of these people and they're supposed to be professional programmers.

There is nothing wrong with telling someone who just doesn't get it that they should find something else to do that they're good at instead and not waste their life hitting their head against a brick wall. Why spend a lifetime trying to become a mediocre programmer when you might have been destined to be a great gardener or a wallpaper hanger or excel in some other job that doesn't require a strong analytical bent and logical mind.

Scratch is a *terrible* first programming language, It teaches bad habits that will last a lifetime. However if you learned to program the hard way, Scratch has some features that make it quite a nice umpteenth language, once you know the rules and when it's acceptable to break them.

So I disagree that Scratch has a marketing problem - or at least with the suggestion that Scratch is a good first language and that it's just doing a bad job of convincing people to use it as such - in my opinion it's only problem is that it is the wrong tool for the job. A good first language would be Modula, Or Pascal. Or Algol. Or ML. Or even LOGO. Anything with reasonably strong typing and good runtime diagnostics. Scratch's only marketing problem is that it is being sold into the wrong market.

Those kids described in that article who want to learn using a real programming language clearly have more sense than their teachers and will probably go far.

G

Last edited by gtoal (April 26, 2017 02:31:59)

PullJosh
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

gtoal wrote:

comp09 wrote:

https://stevekrouse.com/scratch-has-a-marketing-problem-f84626bd18ef

It's interesting how much of what the author brings up reflects what I have experienced with Scratch. Scratch's limitations pose interesting challenges (and of course is as hard as “real programming”), but others see what Scratch looks like and think it's a joke…
Scratch is a *terrible* first programming language, It teaches bad habits that will last a lifetime. However if you learned to program the hard way, Scratch has some features that make it quite a nice umpteenth language, once you know the rules and when it's acceptable to break them.
What are your thoughts on Snap!?
MegaApuTurkUltra
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

gtoal wrote:

Personally I think there are a lot of people who will just never get it even if they spend their entire lives programming
But…but…what's all this stuff school's telling us about “growth mindset” etc? Are you telling me that's fake news?

$(".box-head")[0].textContent = "committing AT crimes since $whenever"
gtoal
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

PullJosh wrote:

gtoal wrote:

What are your thoughts on Snap!?
I'll try it when it has a code sharing system around it like Scratch has. That's one of the best bits of Scratch.
Znapi
Scratcher
500+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

Thanks for posting this, it was a good read and I agree. Scratch seems to have two audiences. The ST wants to make Scratch both for all young children, so that they can be taught some programming concepts at a young age, and for those specifically looking to learn real programming. Of course, visually, a childish appearance best markets to the former audience, while the latter typically wants a more professional, “grown up” appearance. Functionally, making Scratch into a toy, much like Legos, would be good for the former, but it excludes the latter audience.

Scratch seems to be struggling to cater to both of these audiences. It has the functionality of a beginner's programming language, but the appearance of an unchallenging, childish toy. 3.0 will only make this worse, both visually, with the block and site styles, and functionally, with the addition of the horizontal grammar in 3.0 giving Scratch a toy mode.

Splitting up Scratch into two distinct products is the obvious solution. The good news is that there is already a second product: Scratch Jr., a toy with a childish appearance. Scratch could leave being a toy to Scratch Jr. and take on a more professional appearance. If need be, Scratch Jr. can also be made more capable and expanded to the web, so the gap left by Scratch would be filled. Good news again here: a web version of Scratch Jr.'s horizontal grammar has been under development for a while now already! I actually thought that splitting Scratch up was part of the original intention of Scratch Jr., but for some reason the ST is merging the two by adding the horizontal grammar to 3.0 instead of specializing each into their respective niches.

Last edited by Znapi (April 27, 2017 00:16:06)

Penguin9090_new
Scratcher
500+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

Interesting. Very interesting.

I agree with it. Scratch appears to be marketed as kids, but a lot of concepts would be hard to grasped as a kids.
For example, a platformer (at least the dreamy ones ) require scripts for:
  • Movement
  • Gravity
  • Slope Detection
  • x scrolling
  • y scrolling
  • Enemy AI
and I highly doubt an 8 year old should script, or even understand, these concepts in programming.
And we already have Scratch Jr. for kids, so why can't Scratch be marketed for, say, teens/young adults?
Scratch 3.0 looks terrible if you look at it from this guy's marketing perspective (more kiddie than it already is)

lol I should probably learn a real programming language now

CLICK PLZ: Games Art Particles Animations Others

There could be invisible text but probably not –>am i wasting your time? Don't click this link. Really. Don't. Click. It.
Click here to dislike my posts!
PullJosh
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

Znapi wrote:

Thanks for posting this, it was a good read and I agree. Scratch seems to have two audiences. The ST wants to make Scratch both for all young children, so that they can be taught some programming concepts at a young age, and for those specifically looking to learn real programming. Of course, visually, a childish appearance best markets to the former audience, while the latter typically wants a more professional, “grown up” appearance. Functionally, making Scratch into a toy, much like Legos, would be good for the former, but it excludes the latter audience.

Scratch seems to be struggling to cater to both of these audiences. It has the functionality of a beginner's programming language, but the appearance of an unchallenging, childish toy. 3.0 will only make this worse, both visually, with the block and site styles, and functionally, with the addition of the horizontal grammar in 3.0 giving Scratch a toy mode.

Splitting up Scratch into two distinct products is the obvious solution. The good news is that there is already a second product: Scratch Jr., a toy with a childish appearance. Scratch could leave being a toy to Scratch Jr. and take on a more professional appearance. If need be, Scratch Jr. can also be made more capable and expanded to the web, so the gap left by Scratch would be filled. Good news again here: a web version of Scratch Jr.'s horizontal grammar has been under development for a while now already! I actually thought that splitting Scratch up was part of the original intention of Scratch Jr., but for some reason the ST is merging the two by adding the horizontal grammar to 3.0 instead of specializing each into their respective niches.
I couldn't agree more. In the past two to three years, we've seen a lot of attempts to merge separate things into a unified system. Windows 8 was the epitome of this. Microsoft wanted to merge the software used for phones and tablets with that for desktop systems. But it didn't work out, because those are two totally separate markets. It doesn't make sense to try to merge the two, because they do two totally separate things. It's like trying to combine a toaster and a microwave into an all-in-one device. Sure, they do essentially the same thing (heat already-cooked food quickly), but they aren't meant to be applied in the same circumstances. So trying to create a unified interface that tackles both just makes each system worse.

Likewise, the unification of Scratch and Scratch Jr seems like a step in the wrong direction. In the same way that a phone is different from a computer, and a toaster is different from a microwave, Scratch and Scratch Jr each provide similar functionality, but are used in different circumstances. The point of creating Scratch Jr was to allow Scratch to focus on a certain demographic, rather than compromising and trying to create a unified system that serves everyone. By combining the two into such similar systems, the ST are undoing much of the work they did to create such a great piece of software in the first place.

The new 3.0 design is beautiful, and it makes all the sense in the world for the Scratch Jr crowd. In fact, the merging of the two systems from the back end makes sense too. (Doing so makes it easier to maintain both, and helps those who want to keep their old projects while transitioning from Scratch Jr to Scratch.) But from the perspective of the end user, these are two different products for two different types of people.

There are two main arguments for changing the Scratch 3.0 (big kid) interface. First is the purely rational one: blocks that are so large and flat make programming complex scripts incredibly difficult. The size leaves very little of the script to be seen at once (without scrolling), making programs much more challenging to comprehend. Writing code requires the programmer to keep track of a lot of things at once (such as variable names and the structure being implemented), and the more of that which is off-screen, the harder it is to retain. In addition, the flat block style can make it challenging to interpret deeply nested blocks. Particularly when it comes to equation work (which often involves many layers of operators blocks), having blocks which lack a sharply defined shape can make understanding a script more difficult. That's why I prefer the 2.0 blocks over the 3.0 ones.

The second argument is a more psychological one, and the irrationality of it is sure to irk some of those who read this. (Programmers, by nature, tend to be a bit more rational and fact-oriented.) Still, I think it's a very important thing to consider. Much of Scratch's target audience is the preteen crowd (roughly 5th through 8th grade). While I can't speak for everyone, I know that my preteen years were a bit heavy on the angst. I didn't want to be perceived as younger than I thought I was. Unfortunately, the design of Scratch is very cartoony, and didn't cater well to my sense of style at the time. I wanted to believe that my use of Scratch was sophisticated, but nothing about the design led me (or others) to believe it was. Fortunately, I was deep enough into the community to stick with it, but it was a bit of a trying time.

If the goal of Scratch is to entice young people to learn to code in the most forgiving environment possible (as I believe it should be), then it's important to remember to make decisions based on that audience. This is why combining Scratch and Scratch Jr is a mistake. Each is designed for a different audience, and that separation is perfect. It allows Scratch to provide a super-friendly environment for the young ones who prefer flowery graphics, but also allows for a place that looks and feels like home for the pre-teen crowd (resulting, hopefully, in a lot of people finding and pursuing their passion).

Sorry for the ramble, but I think it's a topic that's incredibly important. I've seen many sites and communities grow stale as they work to include every facet of the human population. Scratch has, for the most part, handled its growing pains well, but it's important to remember that it's impossible to serve everyone with a single system. Please don't let the inclusion of a larger audience result in a worse experience for those who are the targets.

tl;dr Combining Scratch and Scratch Jr is a bad idea, because they serve two different purposes for two different populations. Keeping them distinct allows the ST to better serve the needs of each user, rather than catering to the masses.
-Lite-
Scratcher
500+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

PullJosh wrote:

Znapi wrote:

-snip-
I couldn't agree more. In the past two to three years, we've seen a lot of attempts to merge separate things into a unified system. Windows 8 was the epitome of this. Microsoft wanted to merge the software used for phones and tablets with that for desktop systems. But it didn't work out, because those are two totally separate markets. It doesn't make sense to try to merge the two, because they do two totally separate things. It's like trying to combine a toaster and a microwave into an all-in-one device. Sure, they do essentially the same thing (heat already-cooked food quickly), but they aren't meant to be applied in the same circumstances. So trying to create a unified interface that tackles both just makes each system worse.

Likewise, the unification of Scratch and Scratch Jr seems like a step in the wrong direction. In the same way that a phone is different from a computer, and a toaster is different from a microwave, Scratch and Scratch Jr each provide similar functionality, but are used in different circumstances. The point of creating Scratch Jr was to allow Scratch to focus on a certain demographic, rather than compromising and trying to create a unified system that serves everyone. By combining the two into such similar systems, the ST are undoing much of the work they did to create such a great piece of software in the first place.

The new 3.0 design is beautiful, and it makes all the sense in the world for the Scratch Jr crowd. In fact, the merging of the two systems from the back end makes sense too. (Doing so makes it easier to maintain both, and helps those who want to keep their old projects while transitioning from Scratch Jr to Scratch.) But from the perspective of the end user, these are two different products for two different types of people.

There are two main arguments for changing the Scratch 3.0 (big kid) interface. First is the purely rational one: blocks that are so large and flat make programming complex scripts incredibly difficult. The size leaves very little of the script to be seen at once (without scrolling), making programs much more challenging to comprehend. Writing code requires the programmer to keep track of a lot of things at once (such as variable names and the structure being implemented), and the more of that which is off-screen, the harder it is to retain. In addition, the flat block style can make it challenging to interpret deeply nested blocks. Particularly when it comes to equation work (which often involves many layers of operators blocks), having blocks which lack a sharply defined shape can make understanding a script more difficult. That's why I prefer the 2.0 blocks over the 3.0 ones.

The second argument is a more psychological one, and the irrationality of it is sure to irk some of those who read this. (Programmers, by nature, tend to be a bit more rational and fact-oriented.) Still, I think it's a very important thing to consider. Much of Scratch's target audience is the preteen crowd (roughly 5th through 8th grade). While I can't speak for everyone, I know that my preteen years were a bit heavy on the angst. I didn't want to be perceived as younger than I thought I was. Unfortunately, the design of Scratch is very cartoony, and didn't cater well to my sense of style at the time. I wanted to believe that my use of Scratch was sophisticated, but nothing about the design led me (or others) to believe it was. Fortunately, I was deep enough into the community to stick with it, but it was a bit of a trying time.

If the goal of Scratch is to entice young people to learn to code in the most forgiving environment possible (as I believe it should be), then it's important to remember to make decisions based on that audience. This is why combining Scratch and Scratch Jr is a mistake. Each is designed for a different audience, and that separation is perfect. It allows Scratch to provide a super-friendly environment for the young ones who prefer flowery graphics, but also allows for a place that looks and feels like home for the pre-teen crowd (resulting, hopefully, in a lot of people finding and pursuing their passion).

Sorry for the ramble, but I think it's a topic that's incredibly important. I've seen many sites and communities grow stale as they work to include every facet of the human population. Scratch has, for the most part, handled its growing pains well, but it's important to remember that it's impossible to serve everyone with a single system. Please don't let the inclusion of a larger audience result in a worse experience for those who are the targets.

tl;dr Combining Scratch and Scratch Jr is a bad idea, because they serve two different purposes for two different populations. Keeping them distinct allows the ST to better serve the needs of each user, rather than catering to the masses.

I agree; you might want to copy this to the suggestions forum so the ST can see it.

“There are two different types of people in the world: those who want to know, and those who want to believe.”
Friedrich Nietzsche
scratchisthebest
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

PullJosh wrote:

Much of Scratch's target audience is the preteen crowd (roughly 5th through 8th grade). While I can't speak for everyone, I know that my preteen years were a bit heavy on the angst. I didn't want to be perceived as younger than I thought I was. Unfortunately, the design of Scratch is very cartoony, and didn't cater well to my sense of style at the time. I wanted to believe that my use of Scratch was sophisticated, but nothing about the design led me (or others) to believe it was. Fortunately, I was deep enough into the community to stick with it, but it was a bit of a trying time.
Me irl

Alright, I got like five hours of sleep today, but lemme ramble anyways.

I do remember making the Scratch window as small as I possibly could and/or sitting up close to the computer screen so people couldn't see my screen in the computer lab when I was making a Scratch project. It looked like it was for “little kids”, and I, as an upstanding BIG GROWN UP 7th grader, was certainly not one of those stinky 6th graders. (Of course once I got into list shenanigans, or rendered some cool pen stuff onto the stage, screen size went right back up. Go figure.)

'Course, now that I'm in high school I've started a) not caring, and b) using big boy languages. My go-to programming fix at school is CodePen.

Don't get me wrong, I really love the approchability of Scratch, and never would have signed up half my life oh man it's rly been 8 years?!? ago if it wasn't. I liked the cartoon shapes, soft corners, and big figures then, it worked great, and I made my fair share of silly MSPaint projects. And it's interesting to see that they're lowering the floor even further with horizontal mode. But, it seems like they're also lowering the floor of vertical mode too, with the more vibrant colors, and blocks about as big as the empire state building.

So, my suggestion, take it or leave it, is don't forget about those of us who hung on to Scratch past elementary school. Maybe take a page out of Discord and offer a Cozy and Compact display for vertical mode. Maybe advertise Snap! somewhere more prominent. I don't know.

(Devil's advocate: Scratch team has said time and time again that they are not adding an “advanced mode.”)

I am a Lava Expert
mobluse
Scratcher
100+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

You can program Scratch by editing the JSON or you can use Tosh. It's also possible to change the colors of blocks, and make a translation file that makes Scratch look like another programming language, e.g. for BASIC https://scratch.mit.edu/discuss/topic/20601/ .

You can start the first lecture by showing some impressive Scratch programs.

If you have some advanced students they can program Scratch in FORTH. FORTH is a standardized programming language used in e.g. space ships because it is very reliable. This version of FORTH lacks some features of standard FORTH and could be optimized for speed.

Last edited by mobluse (April 30, 2017 12:16:17)


djdolphin
Scratcher
1000+ posts

Scratch has a marketing problem

scratchisthebest wrote:

I do remember making the Scratch window as small as I possibly could and/or sitting up close to the computer screen so people couldn't see my screen in the computer lab when I was making a Scratch project. It looked like it was for “little kids”, and I, as an upstanding BIG GROWN UP 7th grader, was certainly not one of those stinky 6th graders. (Of course once I got into list shenanigans, or rendered some cool pen stuff onto the stage, screen size went right back up. Go figure.)
Scratch “Advanced Mode”: For when you don't want to look like a stinky 6th grader

!

Powered by DjangoBB

Standard | Mobile