App Inventor Rises From the Ashes Like Phoenix

Google’s App Inventor is being implemented at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). It’s not ready for public use yet but geeks are invited to try the sourcecode and give feedback. It is expected to be ready for public use some time in April, 2012. The idea of App Inventor is to give ordinary non-programmers a “building-block” approach to creating an application for Android/Linux. Google and MIT have been cooperating to make the project an ordinary FLOSS project with a server at MIT for public use.

With all the apps out there now and with a million or so new users of Android/Linux per day, it is not clear that App Inventor will be significant except that it’s a sign that Android/Linux is mainstream and open to contribution from every walk of life. Every niche not now populated with apps will soon have the opportunity.

see App Inventor Developer’s Blog

and The Verge

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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26 Responses to App Inventor Rises From the Ashes Like Phoenix

  1. oldman says:

    “I have written in many languages so I can I am confident and experienced enough to know. ”

    So what tools do you use when you’re writing for windows?

  2. Kozmcrae says:

    “Not because I’m seeing the same mindless drivel over and over again,…”

    Just stop repeating yourself Dr. Loser. Of course, you’d need to stop rebooting your brain.

  3. Mr Hill says:

    Phenom you have to resort to insulting belittling insults. Like I always say that is how MS boosters debate when they knew they haven’t got a argument that is valid. WTF are you talking about 2002 (Like I say MS Booster talk about irrelevant historical non-sense). For your information, the MS C# system that we replaced was originally built in 2009. We replaced it a year after when our clients had so much down time with it. I still correspond with the clients and they are more than pleased with the Linux Big data stack. When I email them your previous comment they will use you as the comical feature of the day in their office in London, UK.
    Have you ever coded in C#, if you have you would know it is bloated like nothing I have seen before and since with other programming language, only VB is more bloated. I have to say verbose, and wrapper hell as it makes even simple programs larger than they should be. I have written in many languages so I can I am confident and experienced enough to know. Not only I have witnessed that, ask London Stock Exchange, with NYSE.

  4. Phenom says:

    Wow, Mr Hill, you are doing great to threaten Ohio’s leadership on the board of tech ignoramuses.

    Same wall of text, same half-witted pseudo competence. You are good, I have to admit.

    For the sake of the minusculine chance that there might be just a little hope for you, let me focus on this one:
    “Processing data was slow on their old MS C# equivalent system”

    .NET made its appearance in public in early 2002. Lets assume that your company knew very well in advance what .NET is all about from the betas, and development had started immediately. Lets say that your company even managed to compelete development in that same 2002.

    When a project of just a few years, designed to work with large data, fails so miserably that it has to be replaced completely, forlorning all the investment in it, that means only one thing – the architect and developers were morons.

    Either that, or the whole story you pulled from your ass, just like the rest of your wall of text.

  5. oe says:

    For the last decade and a half I’ve tried to get things done with the CRAPPY MS-Stack, be it servers or desktop, only to be rescued by FOSS (GNU/Linux) LAMP stack as the fall backup plan time and time again….funny how I was gluten for punishment.

  6. Mr Hill says:

    Hey as Voltaire once said “I will disagree with you, but I will fight the right for you to have your opinions”. ‘Pascal’, do they still use that language as you have shown again you are still stuck in 90’s MS utopia of screwing any opposition. All you need is your double breasted suit and brick mobile (cell) phone. I will defend Robert with WordPress as he is right again; and I have to say it again, you are insulting the intelligence of hundreds of millions of developers and enthusiasts by deriding WordPress. If it’s code was ‘crap’ as you put it, it wouldn’t have lasted the last eight or so years. You do not understand how FOSS dev culture works. If you are such a great coder, contribute; oh sorry it doesn’t use Visual Basic Virus (VBV as we call it, as it injects and infects all it touches!). Have you presided 9MB of pure code. Well with Windows, its so encapsulated (bloat) that you never seen low level code of any type. I remember a guy like you who believed in a MS utopia only two years ago and he ran a business which only dealt with MS tools and products, guess where his business ended up… Yes you’ve got it; ended up with his eviction from his office (It was hilarious as I was there) and the Administrators taking over his assets. LOL 😀 haha ignorance is bliss. All because he listened to the bull, bought the MS spin and ignored and belittled FOSS tools like WP and even PHP. I explained that clients wanted a LAMP stack as an option, and he always tried to sell them a MS stack, he lost out on a seven figure contract for his company with this blatant ignorance. If some don’t listen, they will feel.

  7. Dr Loser says:

    @Mr Hill:

    “I am sure Mr Moon, Dr Loser and the like are Microsoft Boosters who come on here and are payed to defend or full-time employees by Microsoft.”

    Yes, of course! The voice behind the fridge tells you so!

    It is entirely inconceivable that, amongst the 60% of the world that does not yet bless Linux (I forget Robert’s figures; I’ll go with 60% for this purpose), a single one of them would wish to spend time pointing out that your arguments are facile and/or ludicrous.

    Naturally, we are paid, each and every one of us.

    And when, for instance, I get bored and drift away, it will be because Microsoft has stopped paying me.

    Not because I’m seeing the same mindless drivel over and over again, with no argument to back it up.

  8. Dr Loser says:


    I realise your relevant experience in the area is back when people measured code by KLocs, but it’s not the done thing any more.

    “9+ MB of code is not a ‘bit’.”

    Yes, I’m afraid it is a ‘bit.’ Proper large scale systems regularly exceed this in pure number of characters, if that’s what interests you.

    From all accounts, WordPress is a badly-designed, bloated bit of crap.

    “He also wrote that it is ‘not very well written’. The source is available. You could make the world a better place by pointing out the flaws and submitting patches or you could make the world a bitter place…”

    Why would I want to do you people’s work for you? You’re perfectly capable of rewriting the thing from scratch yourself, in Pascal. It’d be fun!

    Also, you believe in that crap. I don’t. I make the world a better place (in my little way) by donating to charity, not by trying to fix up some egregious mess built by somebody who had no business going anywhere near a computer in the first place.

  9. Mr Hill says:

    Great. Well put Mr Pogson. The arrogance of these boosters is astonishing

  10. Dr Loser says:

    Lovely to see another Wall’O’Text merchant around here, however.

    It gives oiaohm a bit of competition. Perhaps he’ll up his game?

  11. Dr Loser wrote, “bit of blog-hosting code.”

    9+ MB of code is not a “bit”.

    He also wrote that it is “not very well written”. The source is available. You could make the world a better place by pointing out the flaws and submitting patches or you could make the world a bitter place…

  12. Mr Hill says:

    Hahaha! No wonder you take your name Loser. Just like your favourite company Microsoft. Well as mentioned earlier, the tens of millions (and that we know of) and fast rising number of WordPress blog hosts (like the one you are viewing and using right now by sending your posts and most likely on other blogs across the web) tend to disagree it is quote from your words a crappy bit of blog-hosting code.

    It seems you are one of near-hundred million people who think this way; defying and denying the popularity. When you imagine thats nearly just as much blogs there are in the world. It is a shame you are still stuck in a 1990’s FUD MS schism that if all these WordPress users are wrong and you are right. If you are part of a software team, you know how tough it is if there are a couple of developers, imagine the thousands that contribute to make code and the WordPress or any other FOSS project; and at the same time deliver a quality “product”.

    MS equivalent for building blogware are absolutely awful (such as DNN, which is mostly written in, which just shows cutting edge 90’s technology). I write software for Windows for a living (with other OS systems), so I know what I am talking about. Even clients who use MS as a stack have opted to use WordPress. In the UK, the move towards moving to other OS and platforms is slowly happening, but FUD from MS has stifled this and kept the UK in the IT dark ages, just ask Eric Schmidt. Like I said no software is perfect, but from a contributory point of view WordPress has been a extraordinary success. You belittling any alternatives (like I mentioned MS Boosters always do when they are backed into a corner), is an insult to the millions who use WP, even those who do use MS products.

  13. Dr Loser says:

    More than extraordinary?

    Quite the claim for a crappy bit of blog-hosting code.

    Does it eventually wrap around and become “less than intrasuperior?”

    Maybe it’s just me, but fixating on one small (not very well written) bit of code, praising it to the skies, and extrapolating from that particular piece of fairy cake to the rest of the universe … well, it’s not terrifically convincing, I’m afraid.

  14. Mr Hill says:

    Mr Pogson wrote There are so many FLOSS projects that are widely used but don’t have counters. There is a lot of FLOSS in use and a lot of users.

    Because Mr Pogson, FOSS isn’t about marketing statistics; it is about choice and flexibility. I am encouraged that you are helping your students to get involved in such useful tools which FOSS offers. If you were to gauge, I use the U.S. stats as I have found out with the U.K., there seems to be reluctance from businesses to take FOSS seriously for deployment in these countries. WordPress has been one of the web phenomenon of the last ten years as it allows users to get a blog up quickly. It has its annoyances, but hey nothing to stop you from your task and the benefits are more than extraordinary.

  15. Mr Hill wrote, “And regards to WordPress… Let go to the statistics briefly…”

    I can write about WordPress with some experience having used it for 5 years now. It’s a pretty slick tool. There are a few annoyances but the benefits far outweigh those. I have had students install it on servers they built and they like it too. 70 million installations on the web and counting represent actual choices by people who have a choice and know it.

    There are so many FLOSS projects that are widely used but don’t have counters. There is a lot of FLOSS in use and a lot of users.

  16. ch ignores the obvious fact that if some FLOSS is poor in some way but the objective has merit, someone will be provoked to fix it whereas that only happens in that other world when the bosses are annoyed by falling quarterly results. For more than a decade M$ was content to ship 99% crap.

  17. Phenom wrote, “There is not a single development tool for GTK and X, which can match Visual Studio 2005, let alone 2010. Or Delphi, which got as ugly as it can get since 2005.”

    Clearly, since developers have choices but choose to use GTK in large numbers, Phenom’s opinion is barely relevant.

    Here’s a setup of VS2008 to produce GTK stuff… but we have Eclipse.

  18. Mr Hill says:

    Oh my goodness. I have rocked the boat with this. Yes software has never been 100% perfect; you can say that with any medium. But if I pay premium prices for software, I expect it to be perfect. But that unfortunately at a professional level doesn’t happen. FOSS software like any software isn’t perfect but it has saved me many times when proprietary software has given me needless headache. I estimate that FOSS software gives me 85% satisfaction and Proprietary software gives me 60%. There is no flexibility with MS software, its all irrelevant pretty buttons and more than regular crashes. At least if there’s a bug in FOSS software I can fix it in code and pass the patch to the main project. I am not a FOSS advocate, I am playing Devils Advocate. If I see something, I say it with many years in this industry; sadly MS is paying for name and a licence which keeps you to a stack to software you do not own (read the EULA).

    And regards to WordPress… Let go to the statistics briefly…

    Headline from a few months ago – WordPress Now Powers 22 Percent Of New Active Websites In The U.S.

    I can list a whole load more statistics, but Mr Pogson would not be pleased taking up too many lines on this wonderful forum.

    That’s is a fact. Used by bloggers all over the world WordPress is a great tool for getting dynamic content within blogs. Is there a MS equivalent. And don’t say DotNetNuke. I’ve used DNN professionally and it is not in the same league to be compared with WordPress.

    Yes you mention Firefox, if it wasn’t for this open source browser we would still be haunted by the limitations of IE6. Goodness grief, Ballmer talks about GPL being a cancer, you may as well look closer to home as IE6 has been a tumour for over a DECADE on the web. IE6 was weak back then and MS didn’t do anything with it for 5 YEARS until their pathetic IE7. IE6 and IE7 are so bad that even MS recommend their users to remove these incompatible to web standard browsers. Firefox pushed the web when no other browser was enabled to compete with the monopoly that kept the internet in the 90’s with the appalling ActiveX. Even though Opera was available, it wasn’t well known. Now we have browsers that do not need plug ins like IE. Imagine if it wasn’t for the open source plug ins and JS libraries (look at any site’s HTML code and see for yourselfen), Web 2.0, let alone HTML5 wouldn’t be able to run even on even IE9. If it wasn’t for Firefox and later Chrome/Chromium, the web would not have evolved. It would have frankly be in a ludicrous plug-in hell (remember silverlight that even MS are axing with Win8).

    Microsoft Phenom, typical response I would expect from you to be petty and weak. I have built large database programs that deal with bespoke catalog storage management systems for stores using QT and X within Unix/Linux, and because of the streamlined nature of the libraries compared to MS; the company I help build it for demanded only a *nix system (mainly linux). Processing data was slow on their old MS C# equivalent system, as it was poor at taking large quantities of data, now it is so quicker with Linux, similar to the London Stock Exchange’s switch from MS to Linux.
    Why do you thing hadoop (Open Source) is recommended within big data setup, as Azure has proved it isn’t cut out for it. Windows in its very nature is bloated, and the libraries are a bloatfest of COM uselessness which makes the whole Windows ecosystem more cumbersome than it should be.

    And you cannot be serious about Visual Studio, I have to reluctantly use it to businesses who are stuck in the MS stack and I have to admit, there are so many alternative IDE’s that you can do efficient work with like GLADE, Qt designer, Eclipse, Code::Blocks and many more I can put together. If you actually go and do research many major AAA companies develop with these tools I have just mentioned. Visual Studio has many bugs, that is why it is always patched up with updates. Don’t fool yourself, oh I forgot, deluding yourself is paying your bills I suppose. Rather than talk about the great App builder that is in process I have to go on the defensive.

    BTW – Give me VLC over Windows Media Player with its 2000 plug-ins (you have to search for) any day.

  19. Phenom says:

    “Nothing beats writing with GTK and X, as you get code transparency (I can see the underlying code)”

    Now I am sure that Mr Hill has never, ever written any real, working application, deployed at a customer’s site. (Media Player No. 1017 does not count).

    There is not a single development tool for GTK and X, which can match Visual Studio 2005, let alone 2010. Or Delphi, which got as ugly as it can get since 2005.

  20. ch says:

    @Mr Hill:
    “the FUD believing notion that FOSS software is amateur rubbish”

    Big surprise: A lot of FOSS SW actually _is_ amatuer rubbish. Another big surprise: A lot of closed source is amateur rubbish (or sometimes “professional rubbish”). Rule of thumb: 90% of everything is crap.

    “Firefox” “WordPress”

    Not exactly the best examples.

    “FOSS software is of exceptional quality.”

    That’s just as much BS as saying “Closed source is of exceptional quality.” There are good and bad examples in both worlds, because the license doesn’t have that much to do with actual quality – unless you follow RMS’s definition:
    IF $license = “GPL”
    THEN $quality := “good”
    ELSE $quality := “bad”
    (Please insert syntax of your favorite language)

    Unfortunately, the FSF is only about creating “free” software, not about creating _good_ software.

  21. @Mr Hill

    Thanks for your comments.

  22. Ch says:

    Somehow that reminds me of
    (My friend way back then loved that thing on his Mac and did some cool stuff with it. It was pretty close to “paint your program”, but IIRC eventually a bit of coding was still necessary.)

    Personally, I’ve always liked Visual Basic: All the power of a modern language, but without curly brackets, and creating the UI is ridiculously easy – great! But no matter how easy it is, at the end of the day you still need to know how to write code if you want anything more than something absolutely primitive.

  23. Dr Loser says:

    Simply on the issue of style, btw, “Rising from the ashes” is perfectly sufficient to make the point.

    One would add “like Phoenix” if one had to expatiate; otherwise, simplicity is a perfectly fine oratorical goal.

  24. Mr Hill says:

    I am sure Mr Moon, Dr Loser and the like are Microsoft Boosters who come on here and are payed to defend or full-time employees by Microsoft (Like Michael on Techrights). This has nothing to do with MS, yet they still come on here to recommend features and products from this company and belittle any alternatives. This article is about an Open source Android App builder; these guys coming on here with their “MS booster comments” is like someone going to a kosher butcher suggesting that they can supply pork. Unless it is within the context of the article, keep those irrelevant comments out. Lets face it 99% of visitors of this page are not going to try MS products. The 90’s MS corporate computing mentality is over, new alternatives are helping competition and consumer choice. Why don’t these guys give up and stay on the MS specific entries. When they sound too knowledgeable about MS as a whole, they sound too articulate to be just fanboys. They sound like MS marketers that have made my country (the U.K.) into a third world IT nation (Glyn Moody has pointed out). They have poisoned our schools and offices with MS products, killing Computer science along the way. Mr Pogson, you would be surprised how far behind and ignorant IT professionals and businesses are in this country because they like hype and spin that MS and Apple offer and have the FUD believing notion that FOSS software is amateur rubbish; yet at the same time they browse on Firefox, upload on Filezilla, deploy WordPress, and use FOSS software and libraries without even knowing. FOSS software is of exceptional quality. Yes I use MS just to program software for my clients, but when I use my computer for personal usage I use Ubuntu (I know its not Debian, but hey..) and have done so for 4 years. The day I can only code Linux/Unix all the time would come as a dream come true as I find it more straight-forward and you do not get the library bloat and opaque nature of the code (hidden code, etc) which you get with Windows/MacOS development. Nothing beats writing with GTK and X, as you get code transparency (I can see the underlying code). Thanks Mr Pogson for you more than useful blog, excellent.

  25. Dr Loser says:

    Well, it’s an interesting idea, but scarcely new. Didn’t MIT come out with the Turtle system about twenty years ago now, which was intended to afford primary school kids the opportunity to program via building blocks?

    I seem to recall Joel Spolsky mentioning an early Microsoft effort in the same area, which died a death. You will of course claim that this is because M$ smothered it, whereas I think the problem with these languages/platforms is far more subtle. Joel hinted at it when he pointed out that you still need to understand programmatic concepts like loops and counters and so on.

    Basically, it seems to me, all you’re really doing is to change the syntax of a programming language, rather than the semantics. This is slightly obscured by the perception that there is a massive difference between “graphical blocks” and plain ole typing, but I think it’s still there. You are still, in essence, dealing with a procedural language, albeit one with giant building blocks; a glorified flow-chart, if you want.

    I think there’s some value to the initiative, but the effort should be redirected into declarative semantics rather than procedural. Microsoft’s WiX is a good example of this (I’m not quoting it because I’m a shill; just because I can’t immediately come up with a more general example, and because I’ve used WiX recently). You can build some pretty awesome installation programs with this (not much else, but it’s what WiX is designed to do). With a graphical front-end, which I would argue it sorely needs, you could genuinely put this in the hands of a non-programmer and get quite nifty results.

    Now, for the sake of argument, extend this into a more “interesting” domain, such as computer gaming, and turn it into FLOSS, and I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t become very popular.

    App Inventor, though, not so much.

    (How about that? A post where I go along with quite a lot of what you say, and neither one of us insults the other? This is quite refreshing…)

  26. Hanson says:

    That’s great! Can we expect Mr. Pogson Android apps then? Because I clearly think that any sort of actual coding is much too hard for you. But a visual drag-and-drop approach would suit you fine. Here’s an idea for your first app: build a program that notifies the user at least once a day optically and acoustically that Android is built on Linux. I’d buy that for a dollar!

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