Differences between GP and App Inventor?

Setup, what to try first, tutorials

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Differences between GP and App Inventor?

Post by djsedaw » Sep 16th, '17, 07:36

Hi, I usually use app inventor/thunkable but find GP very interesting, what are the main differences between them?


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Re: Differences between GP and App Inventor?

Post by SimpleSi » Sep 16th, '17, 13:22

GP is a a full programming language (like Python/C/Java etc) where you have to code pretty much everything you want to do with simple functions rather than put together high level blocks that do a lot of the heavy lifting for you

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Re: Differences between GP and App Inventor?

Post by JohnM » Sep 17th, '17, 14:04

There is also the obvious difference that App Inventor generates a stand-alone Android app! I hope GP will eventually generate Android Apps, but it has not even been ported to Android yet, so that's a ways off.

However, if you want to target mobile devices, you can run GP apps in the browser on Android or iOS phones and tablets. You can even make a "desktop shortcut" on some platforms that will launch directly into your app in full-screen. The downsides of running in the browser (vs. a native app) are:
  • its slower than a native app
  • you can't access native features like the accelerometer or GPS location
  • you can't put it into the app store
On the other hand, assuming you have a website on which to share it, the browser version may be easier to share. You just need to share a link of the right form and it opens in one click; the recipient doesn't need to install anything.

Another, more subtle difference, is that most of GP is written in GP itself. Thus, it can be extended with new commands -- or even new UI features if you're really adventurous. From the learning perspective, GP offers the opportunity to "look inside the box to see how it works". That feature isn't for everyone, and it can be positively terrifying for educators. However, there is a clear fence between using GP and looking inside it (you need to enter "developer mode"), and for someone curious and self-motivated, this feature offers an amazing opportunity to go deep. The 1.x versions of Scratch had a similar feature, although it was hidden. I was amazed at how many advanced Scratchers dove into the internals and created "Scratch Mods", especially since they needed to learn Smalltalk to do so. However, unlike modding Scratch 1.x or Minecraft, with GP you don't need to learn an entirely new programming language or deal with text language syntax issues: you can view all of the GP code as blocks. (Eventually, I hope to support system modification by editing in blocks, but currently you need to edit text files to make permanent modifications to the system.)

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