Hackety Hack is a free Ruby-based environment which aims to make programming easily available to beginners, especially teenagers. Its motivation was an essay entitled The Little Coder’s Predicament, written in 2003 by a fellow called (Mr.) why the lucky stiff, which argued that programming isn’t as readily available as it was in the days of the Commodore 64, and that something should be done about it to help beginners tinker with their computers.
In the 1980s, a language called BASIC swept the countryside. It was a language beginners could use to make their computer speak and play music. You could easily draw a big smiley face or a panda or whatever you like! But not just BASIC. Other languages like LOGO and Pascal were right there on many computers. In this century, you may have dozens of programming languages lurking on your machine. But how to use them? A fundamental secret! Well, no more. Hackety Hack will not stand to have you in the dark! One of Hackety Hack’s sincere pledges is to make the most common code very easy and short. Downloading an MP3 can be done in one line of code. Making a blog takes about 6 lines. Constructing your own Instant Messaging system takes about twice that.
Presently, Ruby is the only language taught by Hackety Hack. And it’s a great one to start with. Ruby was born in Japan, but has found a wealth of friends across the world. All of this, the whole of it, is totally free to you. My wish is to spread infectious hacking smarts all over the world. And so Hackety Hack is yours forever at no cost: give it away, take it apart, learn-learn-learn without a second thought. And now, here are the rules by which Hackety Hack was established:
The Bylaws of Hackety Hack:
• Beginners should be greeted by a cartoon character. (For the sake of argument, let’s call this character: Hacky Mouse.)
• Also, helpful sentences. Preferably short and with a period.
• I’m only using Hackety Hack to teach the Ruby language because I know it. Hopefully, more languages can be added!
• Again, this isn’t about Ruby, it’s about simply offering a place for plains people to tinker with code.
• “Integrated Development Environments” (IDE’s) are a disaster. Newbies should see only one non-scary window free of tree controls and pinned windows and toolbars.
• As such, we want to stay away from project files and makefiles, the trappings of an IDE.
• Hackety Hack also adds simple libraries for common things.
• Common things are one-liners.
• Keep arguments and options to a minimum.
• In Ruby, blocks should be used to open up a method to more advanced possibilities.
• Help files are clean, short, simple. Lots of short examples. No frames.
• While all bug tickets are helpful and great, I value tickets from beginners to a greater degree.
• Hackety Hack is free and will remain free henceforth.