Grasshopper – learn some coding for free

Grasshopper learn to codeGrasshopper is an app that claims to help you learn to code by showing you examples and having you modify existing code in order to gain an understanding of JavaScript functions and variables.

It came at an interesting time as I’m very much attempting to re-enter the programming field after a very long absence from any sort of coding outside of PHP and SQL.

The Grasshopper fundamentals chapter gets you through defining variables, arrays, loops. conditionals, objects and a few other things. These are all things I was very familiar with from approximately 30 years back when Borland Pascal was my main squeeze.

You’re given a desired result window and a current result window and some code and your task it to modify the code to make your result window look like their example window.

Each part of the thing gives you a little bit of information and you can mostly apply some logic to anything that’s there. There’s not a lot of pulling JavaScript functions out of your ass involved.

For the fundamentals section it was pretty fun for an out-of-mental-shape programmer to run through it although I didn’t really feel a serious challenge, I did feel I was learning a few things each page.

Each lesson is one quick page, a paragraph or two, and then a coding exercise. As such it’s suited pretty well for someone who knows the fundamentals of programming already, if not the fundamentals of JavaScript.

Grasshopper learn to code

Where it started losing me was when I got something wrong. It would give me a one-line explanation of me being incorrect and a doodoo head but not really tell me where my logic fault was.

While I didn’t exactly expect a long drawn out lesson, I would expect if I’m getting something wrong at least put me back into the quiz and tell me how to get on the right track.

I got through the fundamentals with my JavaScript abilities upped a bit. I’d done modification of JavaScript in the past, but it’s never been something I was particularly interested in, mostly historically because it meant maintaining several different versions of the script for it to work in IE 5, 8, 10, Chrome, Firefox, etc. I mean, it’s been better a few years now but whatever.

I’m currently in the Animations I section and I’m finding it remarkably less interesting. Thus far, I believe about halfway through, we’re at a situation where I’ve been told to change X to value, Y to value, and COLOR to value about 19 times in a row.

I’m feeling more like a copy editor than like I’m learning anything. Lessons at this point are “the gray line is too short, make the value 50 to fix it” as opposed to “gray line’s short, fix it code flunky”.

Feels like someone’s telling me all the work I need to to to fix things rather than letting me figure anything out. Maybe that’s Animations II, but I’m not there yet to handle it.

I don’t know overall what I feel about this. I think when I was a kid and learning Turbo Pascal I would have loved something like this. Quick bits of coding exercise that don’t require page after page after page of reading to get to.

Grasshopper learn to code

My only real gripe, since the thing is free, is that the editor likes to fight you. A lot. You want to modify the contents of a single quoted string? Good luck with that.

Grasshopper is free, it’s from a Google workshop experiment, and other than one link at the end of the fundamentals class that took you to a place where you could potentially purchase a learning course from an unaffiliated party, it’s not trying to sell you anything.

Give it a shot if you’re wanting to learn, or trying to reenter the programming game like I am.

Interestingly enough this app came at the same time I’m working on an absurdly long piece about attempting to get my brain back into the programming groove after a nearly 30 year leave and become a creator as opposed to a consumer.

Download: Google Play | App Store

Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Google+ | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts