Uni rescues point-and-click IDE

Open-sourced Android App Inventor gets first MIT release

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced the first open source release of App Inventor, a visual tool for building Android applications that was discontinued by Google at the end of 2011. Writing in a post on the project’s blog, MIT computer science professor Hal Abelson provides a link to the code and explains that the project won’t be accepting contributions until after the MIT servers have been opened to the public at some point in the coming months.

“We hope to nurture a robust and active open-source project eventually, but for now we don't want to distract the MIT developers from their efforts to complete and deploy the large-scale public server,” writes Abelson. “In the meantime, we’ll update the code periodically to match what’s running at the latest MIT experimental system. We’ve also created a Google Group here for people working with the code to relate their experiences with the code, ask questions, help each other, etc.”

App Inventor’s compiler uses the Kawa framework, an implementation of Scheme for the JVM. The whole environment is built on top of the Open Blocks Java library, an MIT project to create a flexible framework for visual programming, and is designed for users with no prior programming experience. It shares some similarities with RunRev’s LiveCode environment, which we covered last month.

Abelson clarifies that users are free to use the App Inventor code for personal projects, with Google having surrendered its rights to the “App Inventor” name and the tool’s jigsaw-piece logo. When MIT’s semi-official version is released, it will be called “MIT App Inventor”.

Louis Goddard

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