Greenfoot (programming language, educational)
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Why I wrote this article

I am very enthusiastic about Greenfoot. It makes sophisticated and fun games so that children are motivated to learn it. The Greenfoot Gallery gives them a place to share the games and get comments from others. The Greenfoot commands, such as setLocation, makes it intuitive and easy for children to learn.

Main Article

Greenfoot is an educational programming language used to teach computer programming to middle school and high school students (age 13 and higher). Greenfoot is based on Java.

It provides a way to create 2-dimensional worlds for games. (Most computer games and video games, including chess, Pacman and Super Mario, are 2-dimensional.)

The ability to make computer games is designed to make it attractive to children. However, since it does not use a drag-and-drop coding interface, it is harder than Scratch or Alice for children to learn. Greenfoot is aimed at an older age group (13 and up). However, children as young as 7 enjoy editing and customizing existing games. For example, a young child might change a crab to a rocket, and 20 leaves to 50 rocks.

Coding is done with text.

You do have a GUI (graphical user interface) so that you have more information when you are coding than when you use a plain text editor.

Greenfoot is housed at the University of Kent, located in Kent, England.

It is maintained by Poul Henriksen and Michael Kolling.


Here on We are going to provide some pages on how to learn Greenfoot. On today, Dec. 16, 2008, there are 5 pages. These 5 pages are written based on the video tutorials and one user-made scenario.

The best tutorials on Greenfoot are the video tutorials.

Michael Kolling documented 4 Greenfoot lessons with his 9-year-old daughter.

Greenfoot is sponsored by Sun Microsystems.

The home page for Greenfoot is here.

The main Greenfoot tutorial is here.

On July 15, 2008, Greenfoot gallery opened.
It seems to have more than 100 projects.

The discussion forum is here

Greenfoot is currently used at more than 50 institutions.

Here is the Google discussion group for Greenfoot. It's fairly active.

Greenfoot is available for Windows, Mac, and other operating systems.

Greenfoot is only available in English.

The first prototype of Greenfoot was developed by Poul Henriksen as part of his Master Thesis at The Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute for Production Technology, University of Southern Denmark, 2004. Greenfoot 1.0 was released on May 31, 2006.

The creators of Greenfoot refer to it as a framework and IDE (integrated development environment). Since many readers of this page will not know what that means, we refer to Greenfoot as a programming language.

Dick Baldwin wrote a tutorial for Greenfoot here.

1. More is involved in installing Greenfoot than Scratch and Alice.
Greenfoot requires JDK (Java Developers Kit).
It's easier to install JDK by just clicking the link without installing the Sun Installer.

2. Kolling did 4 lessons with his daughter over 3 weeks. Getting additional lesson material would definitely be helpful.

3. Some of the programming show in his tutorials is definitely advanced. It could be that Greenfoot has to be taught by a parent or teacher who is a programmer.

4. Given that Greenfoot has coding by text, instead of drag-and-drop coding, but it still has a good interface for making videogames, Greenfoot could be a good next step after your child or student learns Scratch and then Alice.

5. Evaluation from Dick Baldwin's article
"Students can go as far using Greenfoot as they choose to go. There are virtually no issues having to do with migrating from Greenfoot to a serious programming language. Greenfoot is already an IDE for a serious programming language -- Java.

Of course, when students reach an intermediate to high level of Java programming proficiency, they will probably choose to switch over to a more professional IDE such as NetBeans or Eclipse. Along the way, they may choose to take a look at BlueJ or JGrasp. In the early days of learning to program, however, both NetBeans and Eclipse are overkill. Furthermore, NetBeans, Eclipse, BlueJ, and JGrasp don't provide the features of Greenfoot that are designed to engage programming students and to keep them interested until they are ready for an IDE like NetBeans."

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