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Re: Ideas for a Guile tutorial to go with the new site

From: Amirouche Boubekki
Subject: Re: Ideas for a Guile tutorial to go with the new site
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 2015 21:26:13 +0200
User-agent: Roundcube Webmail/1.1.2

Le 2015-10-18 20:44, Luis Felipe López Acevedo a écrit :
On 2015-10-18 10:41, Christopher Allan Webber wrote:

So I've been thinking a bit about what a friendly "intro" tutorial would look like that could fit with the direction the site is heading. I came
up with some ideas I wanted to capture before I totally lost them.

I think we can keep with the kids playing with robot toys idea and
stretch that a bit.  Here's a brief outline:

 - Intro
 - Getting up and running
(picture of one of those robots with a wind-up-toy-key on its back?)
   + How to start guile from the command line, add readline support
   + Editor setup, simple

     Details how to write some scheme with any editor, maybe makes a
free software editor recommendation of something simple that's not
     too hard to get going with Scheme.  Would GEdit work?

     Shows how to write a file and then import it at the REPL,
     then reload it as you add things.

Teaches the basic idea of writing code in a file + playing at the REPL.

   + Editor setup, advanced: Emacs + Geiser

     Explains that this is the advanced, but recommended version.
     It takes some time to get started with if you are not already an
     emacs user, but you may want to come back to it later.  Explains
     how to set things up.

 - First steps

   Much like The Little Schemer uses food as variable names, I think
it's a good idea to stick with abstract fun concepts. Here, I think it would be great to continue along with the "Guile is a playground,
   come play!" idea by using toys as variable names, and defining
   procedures that evoke nostalgia for older programmers and sound
   playful for younger ones.

   Some ideas:
     + could use building lists as putting toys in and out of a toy

(define toy-chest '(robot teddy-bear doll-with-comb toy-soldier))

     + could have a simple-bake-oven set of procedures that takes
       arguments like flavor and dessert-type:

         #> (define (simple-bake-oven flavor dessert-type)
              (format #f "Yum!  You made a tasty ~a flavored ~a!"
                      flavor dessert-type))
         #> (simple-bake-oven "banana" "cake")
         $20 = "Yum!  You made a tasty banana flavored cake!"

       and then we can increase the advanced features a bit:

         #> (define* (fancy-bake-oven flavor dessert-type
                                     #:optional topping)
              (if topping
                  (format #f "Yum!  You made a tasty ~a flavored ~a
covered in ~a!"
                          flavor dessert-type topping)
                  (format #f "Yum!  You made a tasty ~a flavored ~a!"
                          flavor dessert-type)))
         #> (fancy-bake-oven "mint" "ice cream" "chocolate fudge")
         $21 = "Yum!  You made a tasty mint flavored ice cream covered
in chocolate fudge!"

       Yes... the fancy bake oven version is so fancy it can even bake
       ice cream! ;)

     + Introduce modules as extensions for our robots.

I'm sure there are other things!  But I think a tutorial in this style
might be fun, and would fit the site well.  And the desire for a good
tutorial has been expressed many times.

What do others think?

Absolutely. This is in line with my thoughts about the intro tutorial.

To the contrary I think it's not a good idea to start upfront the tutorial with which editor should be used is a good way to loose half of the readers, because they will feel more uncomfortable and not up to the task. To be useful emacs requires one 'Getting Started' tutorial in itself. Or anykind of setup for that matter. The tutorial should go as quickly as possible to the matter and start with coding.

I started a tutorial at I don't introduce readline until the user knows what the REPL is. Part 1 is all done in REPL. I subtly introduce emacs as a good choice for an editor in part 2 which is done in an editor. But doesn't enforce it.

I don't think my tutorial is perfect, far away that idea is. I'll rewrite the tutorial to avoid any allusion to the Earth Software System and instead use The Little Lost Robot as storyline.

The "Getting up and running" section looks like a good part to start materializing the tutorial.

I sent a previous mail to the ML describing my work. Again feel free to comment.

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