The educational technology and digital learning wiki
Revision as of 20:26, 24 January 2020 by Daniel K. Schneider (talk | contribs) (→‎Bibliography)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search



TurtleBlocks is block computer programming language to create designs for laser cutting or acutting plotter created by Franklyn Turbak, and collaborators of the TinkerBlocks research group at Wellesley. It is based on turtle geometry invented by Papert and the Logo community.

PictureBlocks is a twin project, “which facilitates the construction of complex geometric designs from simple primitive pictures by transforming (rotating, flipping) pictures and composing them (putting one picture above, beside, or over one another).”[1]. It is based on Henderson's picture language based on functional geometry.

Both these environments aim “to introduce non programmers to computational thinking [5] and give them hands-on experience with techniques like procedural abstraction, modularity, and divide/conquer/glue problem solving.” [1]

Notice: There exists a similar language called Turtle Blocks JavaScript, or sometimes as "Turtle Blocks". Formerly called "Turtle Art", it draws colorful art based on snap-together visual programming elements. Since it allows exporting to SVG, it could be used as a substitute for the original TurtleBlocks.

Environment and availability

As of January 2020, TurtleBlocks is no longer supported and the current Java RunTime cannot execute it anymore. There may be a new Blockly-based version in the future.

It is possible to export to SVG from another block language. E.g. Turtlestitch can do that, but the result must be re-edited in a graphics software, e.g. Inkscape. Another interesting alternative is Twoville, but as of Jan 2020, it lacks both a block version and documentation. Beetle Blocks has a 2D module that allows exporting to SVG. FlatCAD, a design tool for programming and manufacturing physical shapes, based on the FlatLang language is another alternative (to be tested).


  • TurtleBlocks at TinkerBlocks.org, the website of the Wesley team working on block languages.
  • Home page of Franklyn Turbak, leader of the the TinkerBlocks research group, whose goal is to democratize computing by creating blocks programming languages that are more expressive and easier to use.


Cited references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Franklyn Turbak, Smaranda Sandu, Olivia Kotsopoulos, Emily Erdman, Erin Davis, and Karishma Chadha. Blocks Languages for Creating Tangible Artifacts. In Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VLHCC 2012), Innsbruck, Austria, Oct. 1--3, 2012.


  • H. Abelson and A. diSessa,Turtle Geometry: the Computer as a Medium for Exploring Mathematics. MIT Press, 1981
  • M. Eisenberg, N. Elumeze, L. Buechley, G. Blauvelt, S. Hendrix, and A. Eisenberg, “The homespun museum: Computers, fabrication, and the design of personalized exhibits,” in Conf. on Creativity & Cognition (C&C’05), 2005, pp. 13–21.
  • M. Eisenberg, A. Eisenberg, L. Buechley, and N. Elumeze, “Computers and physical construction: Blending fabrication into computer science education,” in Int. Conf. on Frontiers in Education: Computer Science& Computer Engineering (FECS ’08), 2008, pp. 127–133.
  • P. Henderson, “Functional geometry,” Higher Order and Symbolic Computation, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 349–365, 2002. Preprint ?
  • S. Papert, Mindstorm: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. BasicBooks, 1980.