The design of kodu: a tiny visual programming language for children on the Xbox 360
Matthew B MacLaurin
in ACM Sigplan Notices (Volume: 46, Issue: 1, Pages: 241-245) by ACM in 2011
Kodu is a relatively new programming language designed specifically for young children to learn through independent exploration. Kodu seeks to lower the barrier to entry for new programmers by presenting a radically simplified programming model which nevertheless has significant expressive power. Kodu is integrated in a real-time 3D gaming environment and is designed to compete with modern console games in terms of intuitive user interface and graphical production values. In this paper we will review key tradeoffs made in the design of the programming language and illustrate how it is one of very few languages designed using user interface design principles and methodologies, to the extent that the blend of subjective and objective factors considered in the language design have succeeded in presenting a model of programming which is uniquely approachable and creatively empowering for non-technical users.
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Short but sweet - Matthew MacLaurin describes the genesis and inspiration behind Kodu and the rationale behind some of the more interesting design choices. Inspiring reading for anyone designing highly usable programming environments - I believe many of the ideas here are highly applicable outside of the domain of game creation.