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15 October 2013

Raspberry Pi Java with Greenfoot

So the Raspberry Pi has a new performance-enhanced port of Oracle Java programming language.

But some of the traditional Java IDEs like Eclipse and Netbeans are large, memory-hogging applications. Is there a more Pi-friendly alternative?

The Greenfoot Java programming offers a highly visual way to teach the basics of object oriented (OO) design through simple user interactions. Aimed at coding beginners from around 11 upwards it's suitable for home-based or classroom learning scenarios.

With a graphical interface (see below) centred around user-defined actors that live in class-based worlds, Greenfoot offers an interactive and fun way to build games and simulations.

However, don't be fooled by the playful interface. All Greenfoot programs are built using standard Java. Behind the scenes there a full source code editor with built-in compiler, syntax-highlighting, scope-visualisation and auto-completion.

So the skills you'll acquire will be applicable to general Java development and other similar object oriented languages.

For Pi owners the pure-Java jar file version is the best option. Simply download the file, move to the download directory, then execute this command in a terminal window:

$ java -jar Greenfoot-generic-230.jar

You could create a desktop short cut which executes the above command for a more convenient single-click solution.

The Greenfoot website has plenty of helpful information and resources. Visit the documentation page to view the introductory tutorials, or take a look at the excellent collection of videos at the Joy of Code YouTube channel.

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