Closed Feels Weirder Every Day


By now, most readers of this blog will have heard about Google’s App Inventor for Android, a building-blocks programming system based on MIT’s OpenBlocks that’s intended to let gazillions of people who aren’t programmers build the apps they want themselves. What most people probably don’t know is that App Inventor is closed source: according to Google’s Sharon Perl, Google’s modifications to OpenBlocks “…are not currently available as open source.”

My reaction when I read this was, “Huh? That’s dumb.” App Inventor would be a great starting point for any number of student projects—it cries out to be hacked, ported, and extended. (If it was a UCOSP project this fall, I bet it would be most students’ first choice.) I’d be very interested in finding out why Google decided to lock it down…