Not everyone likes Scratch — the block-oriented programming language that MIT developed to help kids program. While dyed-in-the-wool programmers probably find it limiting, it can be an effective way to teach basic programming to newcomers and there are some people who enjoy the graphical style of programming.
The latest Raspbian release (the operating system image for Raspberry Pi) has a new and improved version of Scratch for those who want to use it on the Pi. According to the Raspberry Pi blog, the new version is up to ten times faster than previous versions and also includes an improved method for Scratch programs to access the board’s general purpose I/O and other I/O devices.
As an example of the new speed up, a Pac Man demo that could only manage one frame per second on a Raspberry Pi B, now clocks in at 12-15 frames per second and can exceed 30 fps on a Raspberry Pi 2. In addition to some additional I/O boards, the new Scratch can also access the camera, the board’s IP address, and the date and time.
Granted, Scratch isn’t for everyone and that’s ok. But if you do want to use Scratch (or teach with it) the extra speed and features will be a welcome addition. We’ve seen other versions of Scratch with enhanced I/O capability. There’s even been sensors built specifically for Scratch setups. Still, having support for the Raspberry Pi will be handy, especially in the classroom. If you don’t want to use a Pi, there’s always versions of Scratch for the Arduino, too.