Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Groovy Language

I've had a chance to play with the Groovy programming language just a little now, and I have to say it looks great for my needs as a teacher. It provides enough access to the system to allow the students to make nice GUIfied applications. The syntax is clean and simple--I wouldn't have to spend a lot of class time explaining purely "structural" code.

It's also got the strong real-world presence I'm looking for in a language. The Grails element has made Groovy a popular web-development language. This is great for the students in my class who will want to expand on what we do in class.

What I've done so far isn't enough to teach with it, not by a long shot. But it's pretty darn promising. I haven't seen a book on Groovy for non-programmers, yet, so no textbook. So I'd have to develop a lot of my own lesson materials between now and January if I'm going to start teaching it this year.

LiveCDs with Groovy Included?

I doubt I'm going to find a LiveCD that includes Groovy. Though it's looking like I'm not going to find one that meets my needs as-is anyway. So I'm going to have to look into:
  • Finding a LiveCD distro that works on all the school's lab computers and is likely to work on most student's home hardware.
  • Figuring out how to modify the content of the LiveCD distro to add the elements I want.
Whether I can manage to put together 32-36 lessons in Groovy as well between now and January while meeting all my other commitments remains to be seen. On the other hand, I can expect to throw it in at the end of the year as an extra with maybe a half dozen lessons or so, then expand that to a full semester the following year.