Exciting news!

An innovative new version of the Pytch editor is now available_

A blue and black laptop icon. On the screen a sketch of the new script by script Pytch editor

The team has developed and trialled a new innovative version of the editor that makes it easier for learners to create programs. This work is based on feedback from educators and students in the Pytch community and is the result of our co-creation activities over the last year and a half.  An even more friendly coding environment gives the students the chance to write Python code in a Scratch-style script-by-script editor.

The new features included in the new release have already received very positive feedback from the learners testing it. We would like to thank the students who participated in the pilot and TU Dublin for hosting us.

The image shows seven students in a computer lab during a focus group. In the center of the room is visible Dr Ben North leading the focus group with support from Brian Gillespie with his team member. The Pytch logo is visible at the bottom of the image.

The recent release also includes a new version of one of our step by step tutorials, which aims to be more interactive and supportive. The new style is currently available in one tutorial, and we will release more soon, refining the approach based on feedback.

Why did we make this?  From early in the project, we received feedback from educators that, in some settings, the classes and methods used by Pytch could be confusing to learners — “classes and decorators aren’t on the syllabus”.  We also noticed that it was easy for learners to make indentation and other errors in the “boilerplate” code needed for classes and methods, distracting them from the core task of writing the Python code needed for their project’s behaviour.

What have we built?  Pytch users can now choose to use a new Integrated Development Environment (IDE) which has user-interface elements for creating sprites and their costumes and scripts.  Within each script, they write just the Python code they need for that script, without the cognitive and practical overhead of having to write out the class and decorated method definitions.  The existing “all one big program” editor is still available.

The picture shows Dr Ben North observing one students programming with the new script by script version of Pytch. Other two students are visible working on the same on their computers. The Pytch logo is visible on the top left hand corner.

Is the “one big program” editor still there?  Yes!  You can have a mixture of “one big program” and “script by script” projects stored on your device.  You can choose which one to use when you create each new project.  Our existing “one big program” tutorials and lesson resources are all still there too.

What supporting materials are there?  As well as the new IDE option, we have developed a framework for follow-along tutorials using this mode of development.  We have added a rewritten version of one of our existing tutorials in this style, and more will follow soon.  We’ve reviewed the integrated help which shows learners the relationship between Scratch blocks and Pytch methods, making it more responsive to context.

Is this still “real Python”?  Yes!  The individual scripts are full, real Python code.  Under the covers, the Pytch webapp assembles the learner’s sprites and their costumes and scripts into one big Python program.  We are planning to explore the idea of making this process visible to the learner, so they can expand their knowledge of Python when they’re ready.

What else has changed?  When designing the new IDE layout, we have taken some cues from professional development environments, and incorporated some graphic design advice.  We will be bringing a cleaner new look to the rest of the app soon.  We’ve also made some error messages more helpful to the learner and made various other minor improvements.

Four pictures showing the Pytch team members Brian Gillespie, Ben North, Duncan Wallace and Sara Fiori supporting students working on the new script by script version of the Pytch editor.

Has this been tested with real learners?  Yes!  We’re grateful to our pilot group of learners who provided very valuable feedback, and to the educators who have been our co-creation partners throughout the Pytch project.

Screengrab of the landing page showing an arrow indicating the "Try it" link to try the new way of writing Pytch programs: script by script.

In the news

Northside Today – Interview with Glenn Strong (October 9, 2023)

The Pytch principal investigator Glenn Strong presenting Pytch at Dublin Maker. A children is visible interacting with Pytch. On the top of the image the Pytch logo is visible.

Our recent activities

Collage of three pictures from the Spring Trinity Open Day with Trinity College Dublin logo and Pytch logo. In the photo on the left there is a view from high angle of some of the school of computer science stands, at the top of the photo the Pytch stand and visible on the poster the text "Pytch: Scratch to Python". Trinity staff and participants are talking and interacting at the stands. On the right two photos showing the Pytch team smiling at the stand: Principal Investigator Glenn Strong, Dr Ben North, Dr Duncan Wallace and Sara Fiori.

Collage of six photos showing the Pytch team observing and supporting the students using the new version of Pytch during a workshop, students are smiling or focused on their coding work. The Pytch logo and the TU Dublin logo are also visible in the collage.
Photo showing a smiling student working with Pytch on a tutorial in the new script-by-script editor version. The Pytch logo is also visible at the bottom left hand corner.

Collage of 5 pictures showing Sébastien Dunne Fulmer presenting a Pytch micro:bit workshop and visiting fifth year students working on it with their laptops.


Pytch screenshot showing a penguin with a Pytch Christmas hat in a snowy landscape with the text "Merry Christmas" at the top. In the four corners there are four images: Trinity College Dublin logo, TU Dublin logo, SFI Ireland logo and "" image.


Collage of two screengrabs from videocalls by the Pytch team. In the middle a banner the Pytch logo and the Technocamps logo are visible with an @ in the middle, reading "Pytch at Technocamps". Ben North, Lee Clift, Luke Clement, Sara Fiori, Glenn Strong and Duncan Wallace are smiling in the pictures. The slide showed at the top has the title "Levelling up Scratch to Python" and it's from a Technocamps presentation shared by Lee Clift to the team.

Colorful collage with 4 pictures of the Pytch stand at the START European Researchers' Night. The pictures show Pytch team members presenting Pytch to participants. The Pytch Logo with text "Scratch to Python" is visible at the back or each picture.

Collage of two pictures: the one on the left shows Pytch research assistant Sara Fiori beside the Pytch poster entitled "Pytch: supporting learners over the bridge from Scratch to Python". The picture on the right shows the UKICER conference flyer (UKICER: United Kingdom and Ireland Computing Education Research, in Swansea University), the Pytch logo and the text # UKICER .

Collage with 3 pictures. Picture 1 shows a colorful sign with the text "Coding with Pytch on Raspberry Pi". Picture 2 shows the Pytch stand with one Pytch staff member smiling, on the back 2 Pytch posters with text "Scratch to Python" and "Support your teaching of coding". Picture 3 shows a group picture with smiling Pytch team members.
Collage with 7 pictures from the Dublin Maker event. The pictures show Pytch team interacting and having fun at the stand with Dublin Maker participants.

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