Recently, I spent a couple of days in the UK with some of the brightest members of Freeformers — Tom, Max, Josh, and Lewie . Our goal was to collaborate on an exploratory prototype tool that encompassed some Webmaker design and ideology, and helped Freeformers achieve higher learning efficacy in their “Tech Jams” — sessions designed for the curious and inexperienced to awaken the instantly-capable web hacker within. From Freeformers’ teaching experience, we identified a sore spot for many students of the programming art: data structures. Namely, JSON blobs. Pulling together our various expertise, we put together a fairly interesting demo: http://secretrobotron.github.com/d3/
Recently, Brett Gaylor wrote about the prospective future of Webmaker in 2013, discussing the topic of “Content Types”. Using a promotional video from the days of black-and-white GUIs, he drew an analogy between HyperCard and Webmaker ideology. The idea isn’t new — in fact, Ben Moskowitz had written previously about his own inspiration stemming from software like HyperCard and ResEdit. But Brett’s video really drove home the point for me.
While developing all-encompassing UI’s for tools is ideal, it’s also very hard. However, giving users the ability to script in the context of a tool alleviates much of the pain in designing the ultimate extensive UI. Moreover, it incrementally teaches the user the memes which stir around the tool and how to use them expressively to become super-users.
Naturally, I started hacking away at a prototype of this type of functionality in Popcorn Maker.
Yesterday, Jess Klein and I demonstrated the power of modern web technology as a medium for prototyping ideas with the result of a 48-hour design sprint on ideas for next year’s Mozilla Webmaker offering. After some discussions with Jess and Chris Appleton — following work Jess and Brett Gaylor had done previously — I spent Monday putting together a branch of Popcorn Maker which prototypes collaboration.