Apr 21

105. Apps for Coders (16 apps)

In this post I’m going to recap the four previous posts where I reviewed four different categories of computer programming apps.  Most of these apps are great for kids or those beginning to learn how to code.  In case you missed those posts or want a broad overview, here’s the quick recap:

1.  Game Design Apps

These apps are best suited for coders who want to design and play 2D platformer video game levels and don’t necessarily want to code:  Floors, Sketch Nation, GamePress

apps for coders design apps

2.  Learn Code by Playing Games

These apps are best for learning computer programming concepts through solving puzzles or completing challenges: Lightbot, Kodable, Cargo-Bot, Cato’s Hike, Code Blast, Daisy the Dinosaur, Tynker, Robot School, Move the Turtle

Learn Code by Playing Games - 8 apps

3.  Apps for Coding Games

These apps allow coders to create games or interactive stories using block-coding style programming languages.  These are great for creative open-ended projects:  Tynker, Hopscotch, Scratch Jr., GamePress

4 Apps for Coding Games

4.  Plain Text Editor Apps

These apps show programming syntax or allow coders to type out the code into an editor.  Codecademy, Codea, CodeQuest

3 plain text editor apps for iPad

I hope you enjoyed this summary the types of apps for coders that you will encounter.  This list of apps isn’t exhaustive, and you’ll see some overlap in the categories.  I wanted to share the apps I have on my iPad and have used in the classroom with my students.  I’ve made my recommendations for apps in each category in previous posts, but please disagree with me.  I look forward to responding to your comments!

Permanent link to this article: http://mulloverthings.com/2015/04/105-apps-for-coders-16-apps/

Apr 13

104. Plain Text Editor Coding Apps

If you’ve read my previous posts, “Video Game Design Apps“, “Learn Code by Playing Games“, or “Apps for Coding Games” you may be wondering if there are any apps that teach or allow “real” coding where you type code as plain text in an editor.  There are lots of plain text editor apps out there, but most editors are for on the go coding that sync with your Dropbox or can be shared to your computer.  This is a problem is you don’t have access to a computer and want to run code.  I’m going to highlight apps that do not depend on running the code on your computer.  They are stand-alone programming apps.  Two are for beginners and don’t have real plain text editors, but one is a must-have app for anyone serious about coding on an iPad.

3 plain text editor apps for iPad

Plain Text Editor Coding Apps for iPad

1.  CodeQuest (iPad) $1.99

link to website

CodeQuest is a game intended for ages 6-8 that teaches the difference between HTML and CSS.  It does not allow users to type in a plain text editor, but shows sample code syntax.  It attempts to show what different code does when building a website.  There are 9 levels where some levels have nothing to do with learning how to program, but use HTML and CSS as themes for the levels.  I don’t feel that the app is worth $1.99 due to the small amount of learning the app offers and how quickly it can be mastered by children.

plain text editor apps codequest code editor apps codequest screen

2.  Codecademy: Code Hour (iPad & iPhone) Free

link to Codecademy’s website

Codecademy’s Code Hour app is a basic introduction to programming that might be useful for those new to coding.  It isn’t a plain text editor, but introduces programming syntax.  The app can be completed in an hour and probably won’t be very useful after that.  This app is free, so you might consider downloading it.

Text Editor Coding apps - Codecademy icon codecademy screenshot iPhone

3.  Codea (iPad) $9.99

link to website

Codea is the only app I’ve found where users can write code in an editor and also run the code on the iPad.  The app includes lots of sample programs so that you can edit ready-made projects, and a large library of assets that can be downloaded to the app.  The keyboard includes special characters and shortcuts that make it easy to add code into the editor with touch gestures.  This is a full-featured app that was used to program the entire app “Cargo-Bot“.

Codea uses the programming language Lua, which is also used in Corona SDK (Software Development Kit) to enable users to develop apps quicker and easier than with other SDKs.  If you are new to programming and want to learn Lua, Codea provides links to the Wiki site and Forum where you can go through some of the tutorials.  It’s worth the $9.99 if you plan to use the app regularly.  The app is updated on a regular basis and keeps getting better when new features are released.

plain text editor app Codea icon plain text editor app Codea screenshot


If you want an iPad app where you type code into a plain text editor and run code on your iPad, Codea is your best option.  However, it might be difficult for kids under the age of 13 to pick up this app and figure it out on their own.  For younger kids, I recommend learning some of the puzzle game apps or block coding language apps (i.e. Kodable, Tynker, GamePress) that I wrote about previously:  “Learn Code by Playing Games“, or “Apps for Coding Games”  I hope you found this post useful!  Thanks for reading :)

Permanent link to this article: http://mulloverthings.com/2015/04/104-plain-text-editor-coding-apps/

Apr 06

103. Apps for Coding Games

There are many programming apps, such as Video Game Design Apps and apps where you Learn Code by Playing Games.  Those are great apps if you like game design or solving puzzles, but if you want to create and code your own custom game using a block coding interface, these apps for coding games will be your best options.

4 Apps for Coding Games

Four Apps for Coding Games

1.  Hopscotch (iOS only) Free

Link to Hopscotch’s website

With Hopscotch, you can learn Hopscotch’s block coding language (like Blockly) with the guided tutorials of such games as “Flappy Bird”, “Food Fight”, or “Fire Bunny”.  You can also create your own unique games from scratch using the objects provided.  Hopscotchers can explore and share creations in the Hopscotch gallery (showcase).  This is a really fun app that, like others, takes a bit of time to get the hang of, but is definitely worth checking out.  You can read more about how I teach with Hopscotch here: Hopscotch Computer Programming App for iPad

Apps for Coding Games Hopscotch Apps for Coding Games Hopscotch Screenshot

2.  Tynker (iOS, Android, Web) Free (In-app/school purchase)

Link to Tynker’s website

Tynker has both “Create” mode and “Play” mode.  Play mode takes users through a series of challenges that teach Tynker’s block coding language.  The first course is free, and additional courses can be purchased starting at $2.99. On the “Create” side of Tynker you can build many different types of games or animations from scratch.  The character builder allows you to create semi-custom characters that can be added to a game.  Tynker has a teacher dashboard where students’ progress can be monitored and teachers can easily grade or troubleshoot student work.  Students can sign in with Google, which can save teachers time setting up student accounts.  Games can be shared on the web within a class “Showcase”.  Tynker is the ideal app for classroom use because of its versatility and useful teacher dashboard.

Learn Code by Playing Games - Tynker app Apps for Coding Games - Tynker screenshot

3.  Scratch Jr. (iOS only) Free

Link to Scratch Jr.’s website

If both Hopscotch and Tynker seem like they would be too difficult for you or your students to use, but you still want to create a custom game or story, then Scratch Jr. might be your best option.  Scratch Jr. is intended for ages 5-7 and uses a very straightforward block coding language.  This being said, there are lots of built in backgrounds, characters and objects to make a unique and interesting project. This app does not have a gallery or showcase to share or play games made by others.

apps for coding games scratch icon apps for coding games scratch jr

4.  GamePress (iOS only) Free

Link to GamePress website

GamePress is a unique app in this category because it wasn’t created for schools; however, my middle school students love coding games with this app.  It has many rich features and is fully customizable.  First you might notice that the canvas where you design the game is infinitely expandable.  You can zoom in and out to design a large level.  Each object has properties that can be changed.  Each block of code also has properties that can be changed.  This makes the app fairly complex, but also very versatile.  The app comes with a huge library of assets organized into folders, but you can also import your own images from your iPad or Dropbox.  I recommend using the Sprite Something app if you want to create your own assets to import into GamePress.

The app has an interactive tutorial that can help you get the hang of using its interface, but you might need to visit the help forum or GamePress YouTube channel for additional guidance.  The app has an arcade of user created games that’s accessible if you log in with an account.  Some of the apps in the arcade are not suitable for young children and cannot be forked (they’re play only), therefore I don’t allow my students to log in to the app.  Games are stored on the iPad, but the game file can be shared via email and imported to GamePress on another iPad.

Apps for Coding Games - Gamepress App Icon Apps for Coding Games GamePress Screen


Of all the apps out there, GamePress is the most robust block-style coding app.  I highly recommend GamePress for ages 13+.  For younger kids who want to program games, Hopscotch and Tynker are both great options.  Scratch Jr. is ideal for ages 5-7.  The main advantage of Tynker over the others is that its teacher dashboard makes it ideal for managing groups of students and accessing their work all in one place.  Also, it is the only app of the four that is available on iOS, Android, and the web.

Permanent link to this article: http://mulloverthings.com/2015/04/103-apps-for-coding-games/

Mar 30

102. Learn Code by Playing Games (8 Apps)

programming puzzle apps 8

Computer programming might seem difficult and tedious to learn.  This doesn’t have to be the case.  Learning  to code can be fun and entertaining.  Several mobile apps help you learn basic computer programming logic by playing games or solving puzzles through a series of challenges.  When introducing these games to students, I first discuss the essential components of a programming interface.

  1. Commands library (reference materials)
  2. Code editor (where code is written or dragged and dropped)
  3. Preview stage / run screen (where the result of the code is shown)

Intro to Computer Programming

As students progress in the apps, we discuss the various computer programming concepts that we discover.  Here are a couple ideas we discuss:

Intro to Computer Programming (1)

There are lots of these “learn code by playing games” apps to choose from.  You might want to use all of the apps or just a couple of them depending on the device you will be using (iOS, Android, Windows, web) and the features you’re looking for.

Learn Code by Playing Games with These Apps…

1.  Lightbot (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Amazon)  $2.99

Link to Lightbot’s website

Lightbot has a few apps to choose from.  I recommend trying out the free Hour of Code app to see if you enjoy it.  If you are using a Windows tablet, then your options for coding apps may be limited.  Lightbot might be your answer.

Learn Code by Playing Games - Lightbot App Icon Learn Code by Playing Games - Lightbot

2.  Kodable (iOS, Web)  Free (In-app/school purchase)

Link to Kodable’s website

I consider Kodable to be a must-have app, especially for your youngest coders.  The feature that stands out about this app is that teachers can manage and track their students’ progress with the online dashboard, and educators can access many resources on Kodable’s website.  Note: @Kodable facilitates #KidsCanCode Twitter chat (Tuesdays)

Learn Code by Playing Games - Kodable App Icon Learn Code by Playing Games - Kodable

3. Cargo-Bot (iOS)  Free

Link to Cargobot’s website

Cargobot is the first game programmed entirely on the iPad (with an app called Codea).  This app is pretty challenging and is completely free.  Another must-have app for your iPad.

Learn Code by Playing Games - Cargo-Bot App Icon Learn Code by Playing Games - Cargo-Bot

4. Cato’s Hike (iOS) $4.99

Link to Cato’s Hike website

Cato’s Hike has a RPG (role playing game) interface that is very attractive.  It can be played on the iPad or iPhone.  There’s a lite version of the app if you want to try it out before deciding whether or not it’s worth the $4.99 to explore all the levels.

Learn Code by Playing Games - Cato's Hike app icon  Learn Code by Playing Games - Cato's Hike

5. Robot School / Move the Turtle (iOS, Android, Mac) $2.99

Link to Next is Great website

The company Next is Great has two programming apps.  Robot School is has a cool 3D looking interface that resembles LEGOs.  The other programming app is called Move the Turtle.  Move the Turtle includes a free-play mode where users can program the turtle draw unique designs with the code they learn in the app.

Learn Code by Playing Games - Robot School App Learn Code by Playing Games - Move the Turtle app Learn Code by Playing Games - Robot School

6. Code Blast (iOS) $0.99

Link to iTunes

This app is similar to many of the other apps mentioned above. It’s features are really basic and it’s $0.99.

Learn Code by Playing Games - Code Blast Icon Learn Code by Playing Games - Code Blast 1 Learn Code by Playing Games - Code Blast 2

7.  Daisy the Dinosaur (iOS) Free

Link to Daisy the Dinosaur’s website

Like Move the Turtle, Daisy the Dinosaur has both challenge mode and free-play mode.  Challenge mode only has a few levels.  In free-play mode, users can program Daisy to move, jump, spin and other miscellaneous tricks.  This app is very simple and can be mastered by young children in just a few minutes.  The good thing about it is that it’s free!

Learn Code by Playing Games - Daisy the Dino app Learn Code by Playing Games - Daisy the Dinosaur

8.  Tynker (iOS, Android, Web) Free (In-app/school purchase)

Link to Tynker’s website

Tynker also has both “Create” mode and “Play” mode.  Play mode takes users through a series of challenges and teaches block coding that resembles Blockly code used by many web-based visual programming sites.  The first course is free (Codey’s Quest), and additional courses can be purchased starting at $2.99.  Like Kodable, Tynker has a teacher dashboard where student progress can be monitored.  Students can sign in with Google, which can save teachers time setting up student accounts.  If you plan on using the more robust and open “Create” side of Tynker, it might be worth purchasing some of the courses to help you get the hang of using the Blockly style programming language.

Learn Code by Playing Games - Tynker app Learn Code by Playing Games - Tynker


If you are a teacher and want to manage student progress, Kodable and Tynker are your best options.  If you have younger students, I recommend Kodable for iOS and web.  For older students where you plan on assigning open, creative coding projects at some point, purchasing some courses on Tynker is a good option for iOS, Android and the web.  If you’re not a teacher and/or just want to learn to code by solving puzzles, then I recommend the free Cargo-Bot app for iOS.  If you’re not using an iOS device, then you can’t go wrong with Lightbot if you’re willing to spend about $3.  Go for it!  Learn code by playing games!
Written by +MattHurst

Permanent link to this article: http://mulloverthings.com/2015/03/learn-code-by-playing-games-8-apps/

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