Scratch on the Rise
October 16, 2017
While students across the world continue to make amazing things using the Scratch programming language, this month Scratch had a significant accomplishment of its own. Scratch attained its highest ever ranking, Position 14, in the TIOBE Programming Community index, an indicator of the popularity of programming languages.
Updated monthly, the index is calculated using a variety of metrics related to the searching and availability of information online about a given programming language. The TIOBE Company, which has been maintaining the list since 2001, does state that the ranking is “not about the best programming language or the language in which most lines of code have been written.” The index does provide a snapshot of the level of interest in a particularly programming language and the interest in Scratch is on the rise. Over the past year, Scratch has moved up 9 positions on the index, surpassing both of Apple’s development languages (Swift and Objective-C), Microsoft’s Visual Basic, and Google’s Go programming language.
The rise in Scratch’s popularity may be viewed as an early indicator of the success of the #csforall initiative. It means that more and more people are actively seeking out information about the Scratch programming language. As Scratch has become a standard for early computer science education, the increase in popularity can easily be attributed to an increase in interest in young learners.
When looking at the current TIOBE index, we can see another important important impact of the rise of the Scratch programming language. A common concern raised about Scratch is that it is not “real programming.” That is, while it provides a fun and welcoming introduction to coding, the skills developed do not transfer to when students learn a text-based programming language, such as C, Java or Python. Student perception about the authenticity of block-based environments has recently been addressed in scholarly literature [1,2,3]. We even addresse some of these concerns in an [earlier blog post] (http://blog.everydaycomputing.org/2016/11/04/welcome-to-the-playground/). A Google search of “is Scratch real programming will show an active debate of the utility of Scratch beyond an introductory learning tool. Regardless of your position on block-based languages, seeing the Scratch programming language prominently featured should help to address many of the raised preconceptions.
Is Scratch finally getting its comeuppance? Where do you land on the Text vs. Blocks programming environment debate? What constitutes a ‘real programming language?’ Please let us know in the comments or tell the world about it on Twitter (@everydaycs).
DiSalvo, Betsy. “Graphical Qualities of Educational Technology.” (2014).