The Art of Teenage Coding

Coding made easy by Maxwell and Peter, 15 from Fife.

Coding is difficult - and no wonder!

It is a world of different languages, each for their own devices. But, with enough time and practice, you can develop any app, game or website about anything you want.

Want an app that tells you everything about frogs straight from your iPhone? Learn Cocoa, the language of Apple.

Want to create a game where you play as a frog in your own world, where you can eat flies as you wish? Learn Python!

Want to create a website about frogs? Use a mix of HTML and CSS, each being very important to the structure and design of what you want to develop.

So many languages - as if learning French at school wasn't hard enough! Though, there are always small programs that help us...

Screenshot of Scratch, a coding app, with lots of blocks showing how all the code creates what is on the screen.

Scratch is one of the easiest programs to learn, using blocks to easily show what will happen in a precise order. Unlike other coding languages but very similar to MIT App Inventor, it is a simple case of dragging and dropping blocks into scripts. Each of these blocks can be customised to give a precise command, for instance, ‘When ‘Right Arrow’ is pressed’ and ‘Change x by 10’. This small bit of code will change its position on the x coordinate by 10.

So with only a tiny amount of work, you could easily have a sprite (character) moving about the screen and then you’re well on your way to making a game! Max is developing a game called PixelBrawl where you can fight with characters of you choice, though to be able to make sure the players can attack each other and even make sure they move along the ground is hard. Nothing is easy in coding and because of that alone it is always amazing when you can play or use the final product of all your hard work.

A screenshot of MIT App Inventor which has different coloured blocks of code that lets you build apps easily

We have used MIT App Inventor to create our apps. It all started when we took Computing Science for a subject in our 2nd year of secondary school. One of the first coding languages we learnt was MIT App Inventor which is based on the Java programming language.

We also made our own website using the webs website.

To see an example of how we used webs, you can visit the site we created

A Screenshot of Grog, a weather app the writers made. Shown is a grey cloud with the word Grog on top.

Getting more complicated with your coding...

Now, moving blocks on a screen is quite fun, but sadly coding isn't all colourful blocks!

In our Computer Science course, after working on both Scratch and MIT App Inventor, we moved onto an application called ‘TrueBasic’, a simple text editor which transforms your text into a program. That’s right; we began to work like a REAL programmer, which means back-to-basics text and numbers. Instead of dragging a block from your list such as ‘Say Hello!’ you’ll be typing ‘PRINT “Hello!”’ which might not sound too difficult, but you’ll probably be doing a LOT more typing than you are used to.

An ‘IF <something>’ command will turn into:

‘IF <something>


<Stuff in here>


A Screenshot of lines of code - black writing on a white background.

Unfortunately, the image you can see above will be the kind of style that you will be presented with when programming. No colour, just black and white text. With this program, we have only made text applications and text adventures, none of which are terribly exciting compared to Scratch and App Inventor.

Though after this you can choose what you want to move onto! It completely depends on what you want to develop a game or program for. Python or VisualBasic (aka VisualStudio) would be your next step for computer programming and if you wanted to develop your Android app further, you could learn Cocoa to take you app onto the Apple App Store.

Or you might want to develop a game for the Xbox One with XNA and VisualStudio. The choice is yours! We’re going to stick with mobile devices and continue App Inventor and I’ll get on with learning Cocoa, but otherwise, happy coding!