I shared Interactive SICP with HN last year (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4860370), and thought it was time to share it again. Since that time, I've
- added more sections of the book
- added mathjax
- made the evaluation asynchronous (to avoid freezing the UI during long computations)
- improved dependency management between blocks of code
- separated out the interactive library - I should be releasing it soon!
What I haven't been able to do is to make the entire book interactive due to a lack of time. I was thinking of using indiegogo to pay myself and my co-author so that we can finish the book. What do you guys think?
It seems like I can't skip ahead to further chapters and start working through it there - for instance if I start here:
and click the right arrow, it brings me back to the beginning. Is that by design to enforce that I work my way through from the very beginning? One reason I'd like to start mid-way is I've read this book a number of times, getting more out of it each time, and I don't feel like spending the time on the basics.
While an inline interactive Scheme interpreter does make the SICP examples easier to follow and play with, it doesn't by itself make the content more understandable and learnable.
A "learning environment for SICP", with the principles of learnability and understandability in Victor's article applied, would be very beneficial for present day learners. It surely is a lot of work, but would be an interesting route for your project to take.
In Bret Victor's terms, the scheme used in SICP has very little "vocabulary" to learn to read. The first section (which I linked) uses only arithmetic functions and `if` to teach you, well, how to program. And the "show flow" examples emphasize mutation of variables through time, while scheme uses recursion in place of loops. I think something that shows the function calls explicitly would be good, or at least something that shows the flow of function call (like the DrRacket debugger).
At the risk of generalizing, Bret Victor deals with things like graphics, animations and simulations, while SICP treats programming like a branch of pure math, and it's not straightforward reconciling the two.
I'd love to talk more about this with you though!
One thing I'm more or less certain about is that it would entail less live coding, and more stepping through visualized execution states (perhaps similar to pythontutor.com's visualizer).
I will be going through SICP with these in mind in the following weeks/months; I will keep you posted if I end up with notes that I think you might find useful.
Alternate HTML5 version here: http://sarabander.github.io/sicp/html/index.xhtml
This is the direct link to the pdf file: https://github.com/sarabander/sicp-pdf/raw/master/sicp.pdf
One idea though, where you have the green box that can be hidden, it would be nice to have an interpreter box there, to mess around with as one goes through (and keep it persistent between pages). That way, if someone just wants to mess with the text already entered on the page, they can, but if they are like me and like retyping things (a form of mental note-taking) they could do that too.
I know at first the main issue I found with lisp was that I didn't know how to get an environment going to just mess around with, and having something like that might be useful to provide a standalone from the iSICP (or it might not).
Overall, very impressive, good stuff.
If anyone is interested in reading SICP now, you should try out my app. We find you someone and you have a good conversation about the material each week through video chat and a whiteboard. We aren't launched yet, but you can check out our simple demo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlUTKzrqECE) and send me an email if you want to try the beta. email@example.com
[It's Ctrl-Enter. Actuallghy just pressing Ctrl is enough.]
Ideas to make it more discoverable:
- re-run an expresion when the editor is unfocused.
- add a "▶" button in the corner of each editor.
- add a tooltip with the kbd shortcut on the "▶" button
Great work, and very useful.
Unfortunately, searching for jsscheme in Google gives you a list of many different projects that either share the same name or have a very similar name.