Grasshopper app

Cool factor 4/5
Usability 5/5
Value for money 4/5

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to code but been too intimidated to start, Grasshopper offers the gentlest of introductions, living up to its promise of being "the coding app for beginners".

The app is simple enough for a preteen but is aimed at adults, and it "gamifies" the process of learning basic JavaScript.

Grasshopper — launched in April by Area 120, Google’s workshop for experimental products — consists of guided lessons that you can do in a few minutes of spare time between tasks. The app tries to ensure you will make a daily habit of these lessons, offering to send you a reminder daily, every two days, and so on — reminiscent of the learning approach of language apps.

And that’s essentially what coding is: learning a language to instruct a computer to do something. You build up from the ABCs to complex paragraphs by learning the words and syntax that apply.

The first lesson in Grasshopper is a simple recreation of a country flag using colourful blocks (drawing shapes). After a couple of lessons, you’ll be given a short quiz to test your understanding of the code you have written.

From there you move on to the animations journey, and so on. There is also a support forum, and something called the Code Playground, in which you can practise writing code beyond the specific requirements of the lessons.

The app is free to download for iOS and Android devices, and the interface is about as clean and simple as it gets — just follow the lessons down each path and you’re pretty much guaranteed to walk away with a better grasp of coding.

You will need to sign in with a Google account, though. If you cruise through Grasshopper, Google has also announced a partnership with online training portals Coursera and LaunchCode for those wanting to continue their coding education.

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