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Apple removes Scratch from iPad/iPhone/iTouch (computinged.wordpress.com)
158 points by barrkel on Apr 15, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 68 comments



IMHO, this should cause more outrage than all the developer related policies.

Apple has always been a world apart, with a strong philosophy and its own priorities. But the culture around its products was all about fostering creativity.

I used to say to friends: get a Mac if you want an hassle-free computer to make things (music, graphics design and even programming. Does anyone remember HyperCard, which at one point was bundled with every mac?).

The argument that the iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch is not a computer is really myopic. It's the culture that has changed.


Build for free software platforms like Linux or the Web and these issues go away. Being outraged at Apple policies when the web is free is like being outraged at your employer when you are free to start your own business.


"Free" is a term that always benefits from definition. How free am I to start my own business? Well, that depends on relative power, and how precarious my financial situation is, my debt load, my family responsibilities, and other things. It's not just a simple question of "is it physically possible?"

I'm not sure how directly applicable that critique is to the analogy, except to say that I am well within my rights to be outraged at my own employer for many reasons, whether or not I have the opportunity to start my own business. "Love it or leave it" is generally a cheap argument for dismissing folks who are pushing for progressive change in a system.


"Free" is a term that always benefits from definition. How free am I to start my own business? Well, that depends on relative power, and how precarious my financial situation is, my debt load, my family responsibilities, and other things. It's not just a simple question of "is it physically possible?"

I don't have a point to make, but it is interesting that we are both far more free to start our own businesses than we are to develop iPhone applications in Flash.


> Build for free software platforms like Linux or the Web and these issues go away.

Is this statement true or false?

> Being outraged at Apple policies when the web is free is like being outraged at your employer when you are free to start your own business.

Does this statement say you are not entitled to be outraged at Apple or at your employer? Or does it merely say that being outraged at Apple when you have alternative target platforms is like being outraged at your employer when you can start your own business?

Making money from the web appears to be more difficult that making money from iPhone software. Starting your own business appears to be more difficult than working for yourself.

Don't these statements support the simile?

I support your choice to push Apple for "progressive change." But just as you may choose to push them to change, I choose to push developers to change. I hope you accept the direct comparison I am drawing.


Excellent rejoinders. They do support the simile.

I think I did jump to reading it as a "love it or leave it" argument, though recognizing you are more on the "come and join us on the outside". But maybe you can see it was easy to ready it as "it's a waste to get riled up about this".

Anyway, I'm quite sympathetic to the build-alternative-institutions as opposed to work-within-the-system approach. I rewrote this response a dozen times and then realized I hadn't figured out what really rankles me about this whole conversation (the larger one).

I think it's that Apple makes really good stuff, when so often it's the people making marginal or crappy stuff that are making regressive moves like these. So I get torn, because there are real efforts being made on their part to make technology human, to meet people where they are, efforts that have gone further than a lot of others. And I can't see any basic link between the closed approach and that success.


I certainly hope that this will cause more outrage than there's been so far but this action is a completely consistent application of Apple's draconian tools policy and that is a natural result of the walled-garden model.

see: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html

Sorry if it's been seen before...


Yeah, that's linux now, and only for software dev creativity.


Unfortunately, it is only for software dev creativity. Nobody else can really use Linux.

(I say that as a long time Linux user... I would never give Linux to a non-techie.)


With all due respect but I would encourage you to try exactly this with a recent version of a major distribution like ubuntu.

It is so much easier for non technical people to install applications with all those comfortable package management frontends alone. I recently have successfully "deployed" such an environment on an absolute beginner's PC. I would clearly say that everybody who was able to use WinXP is easily able to use a modern major Linux distribution. I have been an enthusiastic osx user for many years now but then again I originally came from BSD world and I am somewhat married to my workflow now.

IMHO Linux is a great option - certainly for casual users and programmers.


I agree that it should cause more concern -- but how about more "reflection and rethinking" than "outrage". The kids with the most to gain from an encouraging tool like Scratch can't afford iPods anyway.


> The kids with the most to gain from an encouraging tool like Scratch can't afford iPods anyway.

That's why they have parents.


Now THIS really got my attention. I was holding my nose lightly through all the flap so far, and I'm quite sympathetic to Apple's desire to keep Flash off the platform, but disallowing educational software just because it's running a Smalltalk interpreter?

A polite but forceful email to Jobs is on the way...


I'd hate Apple more if they published a policy, and then cherry-picked when to enforce it for their best PR benefit.


Didn't they do essentially that by allowing apps for magazines from larger publishers (Sports Illustrated, Playboy, for example) that contained certain content while nixing other apps on the grounds they had exactly that sort of content?

http://www.cooltechzone.com/2010/02/23/apple-loves-playboy-s...



Why does it have to take a specific concrete example like this to make you sit up and take notice? This is the sort of slow and lazy thinking allows despots of all kinds to take control. I can imagine in nazi Germany 'holding your nose lightly through all the flap about persecution of jews' and then being surprised when they take your neighbor away.


I'm guessing you're doing self-parody. If not, see Godwin's Law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law


First they came for Flash, and I did not stand up, because I was not a Flash developer.

...snip...

And when they came for Smalltalk, there was nobody left to stand up for me.


In this case "they" is a company that sells products that you are free to not buy wielding the "weapon" of a development agreement that you are free to not enter into.


love it or leave it.


Was aware of the concept if not the name. Sometimes the best analogue is also a cliché.


From the article: "Why? Discussion on the Scratch forums suggests that it’s because Apple wants to focus on consuming media using these devices, not producing media. Want to be truly computing literate, where you write as well as read? There’s no app for that."

No, it's because (as far as I can tell) the Scratch iPhone app was acting as a Scratch interpreter which is explicitly not allowed on the App Store to begin with.

The authors of the iPhone app (http://www.mobilewikiserver.com/Scratch.html) made a nice post in the developer forums (https://devforums.apple.com/thread/46425) pleading their case for any you with access to the forum and an interest in digging deeper.


"No, it's because (as far as I can tell) the Scratch iPhone app was acting as a Scratch interpreter which is explicitly not allowed on the App Store to begin with."

Which goes to show, once again, that this policy is really stupid and that it doesn't affect exclusively developers, but also the educational potential so vehemently touted by all the iPad/iPhone/iTouch fans.


So I imagine Apple will soon be taking down the Secret of Money Island and the Sim games, since I know for a fact both of these use interpreters.

No, of course they won't. Because those titles bring in big bucks and are from the types of developer Apple wants to develop for their device.

It the capricious and selective enforcement of the SDKs T&Cs that is the biggest problem for developers. It's not that Apple are against interpreters, they are just against interpreters when it is not financially beneficial to them.


Actually they fully allow interpreters as long as it doesn't allow users to run arbitrary code. They allowed the Commodore 64 emulator once direct access to the BASIC interpreter was removed: http://www.joystiq.com/2009/11/10/iphone-commodore-64-emulat...

Of course, all these products were put into the app store before rule 3.3.1.


Let's keep it accurate -- that's rule 3.3.2: "No interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple's Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s)."

When the C64 emulator was released, that "or" was an "and". Now they don't allow non-Apple interpreters at all. (Unless they feel like it.)


That post really puts the "C/C++/Obj-C" thing into much starker relief than the "wish I could use lisp" discussion. Geeks can get around 3.3.1 if they're clever enough; replacing a democratizing technology like Scratch, on the other hand, may be impossible.

That said, if their app really was an interpreter, I'm surprised it made it into the store in the first place. And if anything, the typical Scratch output of a crayon-drawn animation designed by a 13-year-old only bolsters Jobs' point about cross-compilers bringing down the average app quality. But I'm very impressed that they had Scratch working on the platform and I hope Apple can find a way to incorporate that educational mission into their world-domination strategy...


They built it on top of Squeak. That thing is one of the most straightforward VMs to port. The runtimes execute bit-identical. Years ago they were on 40 different platforms, and I've lost track. It's an incredibly elegant architecture.


That's cool. Should have said "happy" instead of "impressed" -- knowing nothing about the technical side, I was imagining the impact of letting kids program ipods/iphones. They must have loved that.


One javascript implementation is the lively kernel, here http://www.lively-kernel.org/

I'd bet there are others.


[deleted]


This app would've been rejected even before the changes to 3.3.1.

It wasn't rejected. It made it into the store and was removed later.


Unfortunately, that in itself is fairly common (gets past one reviewer but rejected/removed much later by another).


It should be possible to create a Scratch execution environment on top of Javascript/Safari. A cross compiler done correctly might run faster than the "native" Squeak VM.


But then the program is still not originally written in JavaScript, so no dice. I think a subset of JavaScript plus a nice library would be ok, though.


But then the program is still not originally written in JavaScript, so no dice.

I believe he meant as a web app.


Do you know if anyone has built anything non-trivial with Clamato?

(http://clamato.net/)


I've certainly built stuff with it that is useful, and some if it is even production, but none of it as complex as, say, the Clamato environment itself.

I don't know of anyone else who has.


It would be great if someone could copy the text of their post. My developer account recently expired and I don't really want to pay $99 just to view one forum post.


This is not exactly what Alan Kay hoped for when he talked about the iPhone foreshadowing the iPad:

"When the Mac first came out, Newsweek asked me what I [thought] of it. I said: Well, it’s the first personal computer worth criticizing. So at the end of the presentation, Steve came up to me and said: Is the iPhone worth criticizing? And I said: Make the screen five inches by eight inches, and you’ll rule the world."

Source: http://gigaom.com/2010/01/26/alan-kay-with-the-tablet-apple-...

The iPad is no Dynabook: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynabook.

Perhaps a better name would have been:

-UndynamicBook

-iStade (See: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/stade )


Could you please elaborate on what is exactly 'disrespectful to history'? Dynabook concept was out there since 1968, not patented as far as I know - anyone could have 'borrowed' it and reaped the benefits.

The fact that Apple has provided a particular implementation of the concept, even with all the software restrictions etc., is a step in right direction. Competition will certainly follow.


The last paragraph came across much stronger than I intended. I've removed it for now until I articulate what I intended better(or never).


I agree in general with what I take to be your stance, that people who actually get it out there into the mainstream and do it well should be rewarded. And that open markets will always create competition so therefore some strict control is ok if it gets us there.

To clarify, I wouldn't expect an academic to patent his work. He wants his works to be freely available to everyone. It's Steve Job's/Apple's right ethically and legally to leverage that. I meant it more lightly that it felt disrespectful that years later Jobs isn't paying homage to the source of inspirations.

I love Apple, they are killing it out there. I don't take nearly as much issue as everyone else does with most of their controlling terms. I come from the game's industry where Apple seems like the most gracious host compared to Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft and their approval process.

But as a Tools/Interface developer it's so frustrating to not be allowed to commercialize say an IDE that utilizes multi-touch to make software editing/navigation more efficient or enjoyable.


>But as a Tools/Interface developer it's so frustrating to not be allowed to commercialize say an IDE that utilizes multi-touch to make software editing/navigation more efficient or enjoyable.

There's no reason why you can't implement an IDE on the iPhone/iPad. The only restriction is that you can't compile arbitrary code. I don't want to say too much here because I'm working on a similar idea, but there's really no reason why the current iPad can't be used for development work.


There's no reason why you can't implement an IDE on the iPhone/iPad. The only restriction is that you can't compile arbitrary code.

That's a pretty freakin' huge restriction for an IDE to have.


You are right, I hadn't thought of it all the way down. You could still have a code editor/navigator client that remotely accesses code, or locally stores it. But the code is run else where.

This would work fine for say editing a web app's code and then hitting refresh on each save. Until multi-tasking is released in iPhone OS 4.0 this will really require another device with a browser to view the updated code in a browser.

But again, this isn't what I'd call an IDE, it's more of a code editor. No debugging, profiling etc, unless you are connected to a runtime else where. But again this is far less desirable than being able to run/test code without a good networking connection or any connection at all.

Many other interactive environments other than squeak would be possible without these constraints, such as the Code Bubble IDE project: http://www.cs.brown.edu/people/acb/codebubbles_site.htm


Wow, I just realized: The only code you can edit and test locally without a connection will be web code. (Due to being able to run Javascript and use the built-in webkit browser)


Next up "Etch A Sketch"-like iApps will be banned since the viewers will interpret de data from the server and display other users' sketches.

God forbid you use JSON to communicate with the server in your app and parse it yourself, that's too close to Javascript-parsing and you can only use the approved Javascript interpreter for that.

It's starting to look a bit like a joke.

Yeah, of course, typing this on my MacBook Pro... It's a weird love-hate thing with Apple these days.


It just occurred to me you officially cannot make an iPhone app that displays PDF documents - because rendering a PDF involves interpreting a program written in the PostScript programming language (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PostScript#The_language).


No. PDFs only uses the PostScript imaging model, not the PostScript programming language.


Ah, interesting - I always though PDF was just a superset of PostScript, but it looks like you are correct: http://www.adobe.com/print/features/psvspdf/


Yeah, but you won't see a TeX editor very soon.


PDFs generated by Adobe Acrobat have Javascript in them (for forms mostly). You are free to not interpret it though.


You can render PDFs in a Webkit view.


So again the question arises - why would you develop for a platform where the rules can change arbitrarily in a way that invalidates your work and possibly cuts into your income stream?


Because you get money while it lasts. If you're fully aware of problem and its consequences - why not just stop worrying and love the bo^W appstore. I'm not sure why would any hobby developer do that though...


Want to be truly computing literate, where you write as well as read? There’s no app for that.

On some level, the iPad isn't really a Turing Machine.


It's out only from the store. There are other ways to install it! Legal ways.


Why am I getting downvoted?

If you want Scratch for your students, you can use ad-hoc install for them? Buy a $99 dollar account, sponsored by the school, and install it for them? What is the problem?

I understand, and I wish Apple did not put such restrictions, but they've put them. Yet, still there is a way.

It's not like with Sony and the latest Ps3 firmware, where even if you want to pay (And I've already paid $69 for YellowDog support) I can no longer get it, or I can't use the Sony Service...


Unless you have more than 100 students. Or don't have a Mac. Or think it's ridiculous to have to pay $99 every year to run your own app.


Is the code freely available to use to install it? If it's not, then this won't work.



Cool, thanks. I am currently in the developer program so I'm going to install this on my phone and play with it!

edit: this isn't the iPhone source...


The Scratch iPhone viewer was developed by a 3rd party not associated with MIT.


Kept waiting to hear this was a joke, but apparently not. Depressing.


> Of course, they can take all the hate from developers because the mindless Apple legions will still love them.

So true.


My first problem with scratch was that it was client based and the "player" is java based. It absolutely needs to be web (not flash or java) based. I actually had a good portion of a jquery/drag and drop code editor written a few years ago when I was stuck at a 9-5 programming gig. I am going to dig it back up as the time seems right to move forward with it.


Please do!




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