CIS 3100 Introduction to Programming Using Virtual Reality

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most important components in thinking about, planning (designing), and implementing computer programs, constitutes what is often called a modern approach to computer programming -- object-oriented programming , OOP for short. [As you will see when we switch to learning how to program in C, objects were not always the central focus of our programming efforts. Back in the dark ages of computing, before the age of “enlightenment?,” programmers focused mostly on writing their own code and combining algorithms (in the form of procedures, functions, or subroutines) to build larger programs. This is what we will do in C, quite a come-down from the world of Alice.] So … What’s a Computer Program, and What is a Programming Language? From the point of view of computer programmers, a computer programming language is a particular set of instructions for programming a computer, along with the grammar (syntax) for using those instructions. Most modern computer programming languages are object-oriented languages, in which programs are organized into a set of methods that manipulate the properties of objects stored in a computer. In order to understand any object-oriented system of
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Alice – Chapter 1 DRAFT June 10, 2013 pg. 5 of 38 programming, you need to know something about how that system handles objects, and the language that is used in methods to manipulate the objects in that system. Learning to program a computer is often a difficult task, because of the need to learn about programming concepts and the language of programming at the same time. It’s also difficult because people find it hard to visualize all of the changes that are occurring as a computer program runs. Alice can make it easier to learn to program a computer by helping with both of these problems. What’s the Big Deal About Alice? Alice is an object-oriented system of programming. The objects in Alice exist in a three- dimensional virtual world, much like a modern video game. In fact, the virtual world itself is an object in Alice — it has properties, and methods that can be used to manipulate those properties. Alice is somewhat like other modern object-oriented programming systems that use languages such as Java, C++, or Visual Basic, but, as you will see, it is constructed so that you don’t need to memorize the grammar and syntax of the language in order to write computer programs. As you are learning Alice you can concentrate on learning about the ideas of computer programming, such as using existing function, object, and event handling components, and understanding the logic of your algorithms (loops, decisions, concurrency, etc), instead of having to worry about the spelling and grammar of a new language at the same time. The virtual world of Alice is one that you can see. Like the real world, it has three- dimensional space (and time), and each object has properties just like physical objects, such as color, size, position, the direction it’s facing, and so on. Alice also has a camera (really just another object)
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