Leopard 2.0November 1, 2006
I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that the first day of November would be the start of the revival of Leopard, the beginner’s programming language that I’ve been working on since I was fourteen-years-old. Many of you have exercised extreme patience in waiting to hear about what’s been happening behind-the-scenes with the language, but since the time has come, I can finally publicly announce the direction in which Leopard is headed.
A couple of summers ago, I taught two five-day Leopard classes to students that were specifically enrolled in a Summer Camp program course that I was in charge of at a local technical college. Over the years, I’ve heard from teachers who’ve been impressed with the language and have used it in their classrooms (even college professors), but I had never personally experienced what it was like to use Leopard in a classroom environment, and as soon as those two classes concluded, I instantly knew from the student, teacher, and parent reactions that Leopard had some solid legs to stand on in the educational market. It’s always been my goal to get the tool out to as many schools as possible, and that’s why my collaboration with WeatherBug makes so much sense.
You may be asking yourself, what does a programming language have to do with weather? Well, besides being the best source for live and local weather information, WeatherBug has also always had a strong connection to the educational market, and this can be seen by taking a look at their WeatherBug Achieve program. With WeatherBug Achieve, students are able to learn from the data that is captured by WeatherBug’s network of weather stations, but with Leopard thrown into the mix, there is the potential that they can now use that data and present it in their own creative way.
On top of learning about the weather, students can also learn how to program their own software, and this combined instruction could dramatically enhance their skills in technology, science, geography, and math all through one educational program – WeatherBug Achieve. While Leopard is currently being distributed as a preview release in WeatherBug Labs and is not officially a part of WeatherBug Achieve at this time, you can probably already see the huge potential, and we’re looking for feedback from as many people involved in education as possible.
For the programming hobbyist, Leopard will continue to be a standard programming language, and it’s not like you’re forced to only build weather applications in Leopard. The WeatherBug controls and commands are obviously available for you to use if you wish to do so, but you can also build whatever else you want, and with ongoing support from WeatherBug, the language will be able to grow in a variety of profound ways. What you’ll see in the software during this preview release isn’t a massive step forward from previous versions of Leopard, but it does represent the start of where it’s hopefully headed.
In order to clear up any confusion, I just want to state that Leopard is still *my* product. Therefore, if you’re interested in any business partnerships, then don’t hesitate to contact me. As it stands, WeatherBug and I are partnering together to try and further development of the language itself and make it a useful addition to their line of products. We’re just now making this public, so if you encounter any quirks, let me know about them. Please give WeatherBug a round of applause for helping to get Leopard going again, and let them know that you appreciate both their current efforts and any future investments that they make in the software. I also want to thank Matt Hartley for helping to make this connection happen. Without that help, Leopard wouldn’t be where it is today.
I urge you to visit the new Web site, watch the demo video, check out the user guide, download the software, take a look at some of the applications, and then submit your own programs for us to post for the world to see. We’re building a community, and we want you to be a part of it. Finally, e-mail WeatherBug (firstname.lastname@example.org), let them know what you think of the tool, and tell them why you think it’s such a great teaching aid for students. The future of Leopard really does rest in your hands.
Stay tuned to this blog for further information about what’s going on and what’s being said about Leopard. I know it’ll be an interesting journey for all of us.
Thanks again, and happy programming!