Google unleashes Coder for Raspberry Pi as kid-friendly tool

Sep 14, 2013 by Nancy Owano report
The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video.

A team at Google Creative Lab recently turned to the $35 Raspberry Pi, the little machine that helps to teach kids how computers work. Talking about it led to what people at the Lab do best, and that is hatch. Raspberry Pi, they said, is not only great to teach young learners how computers work but it would also be great to teach them how the Web works.

"So we built something for Raspberry Pi called Coder. Download it, put it on an SD card, plug it in and it turns your Raspberry Pi into a simple place to write code and a miniserver to run it on, everything you need to get started making real web things, using real languages of the web." That is the message from Google Creative, telling the story of how they transformed all that talk about the Raspberry Pi into the launch of something called Coder.

Created as an , Coder turns a Raspberry Pi into a personal web server and web-based development environment. Coder's site says this tool is "just what you need for crafting HTML, CSS, and Javascript while you're learning to code." The Google creators say it should take ten minutes to set up and in turn begin experimenting in building web programs. The tool includes a web-based code editor.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

For anyone who has beyond starter skills and knows how to code, the new tool can also serve as an inexpensive development environment. Google ideally hopes Coder will gain momentum as an educational tool for educators and parents to teach learners the basics of building for the . "These days knowing how to code is like having a superpower, knowing how to make anything you can dream up," according to Google's video announcing Coder. The team also suggests that Coder can be used as a companion to someone taking instructions from Khan Academy or Codecademy, to try making the person's own programs.

Specifically, a new user will need a Raspberry Pi computer, a compatible power cord, the Google Chrome browser, and a 4GB or larger SD Card.

Google Creative Lab's Jason Striegel, creative technologist, and Jeff Baxter, designer, are two of the team that launched Coder. Commenting on the Google Developers Blog about the decision to launch Coder now, Striegel said on Thursday that "We thought about all the stuff we could do to make Coder a more complete package, but we have a hunch that the sooner this gets into the open source and maker communities, the more we'll learn about how it might be used."

Explore further: Software provides a clear overview in long documents

More information: googlecreativelab.github.io/coder/

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User comments : 25

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ChristineKMickelson
1 / 5 (10) Sep 14, 2013
So did everyone forget you can do HTML coding with nothing more than Notepad already installed on every computer? If you want to get fancy about it then download Notepad++. Buying this hardware just for learning web design is a huge waste of money.
Gmr
4.4 / 5 (7) Sep 14, 2013
Um, $35 plus an SD card... isn't a huge waste of money... and it allows you to run it as a server rather than off your desktop, which means you can use server side logic and languages, I'd say it was pretty affordable...
ChristineKMickelson
1 / 5 (10) Sep 14, 2013
@GMR 35 bucks for a capability already in the machine in the house is a waste of money. As far as your server side arguement goes, you must not have heard of Apache which is as free as notepad++.
ChristineKMickelson
1 / 5 (10) Sep 14, 2013
One other thing Gmr. By the time Mom and Dad gets done buying all of the peripherals for this little gem of a deal, this will be closer to 100 bucks. Far from cheap I would say.
Gmr
4.2 / 5 (6) Sep 14, 2013
Sure, if you want the kid to not have any sense of accomplishment and discovery - show them the internet and say: "It's been done." And I'd say that $100 is better spent on something like this than the average expenditures for kids entertainment - a game and a half maybe?
ChristineKMickelson
1 / 5 (10) Sep 14, 2013
Learning is learning. It's all good. I am pointing out that there are other alternatives to buying into the latest and greatest just because is landed on a shelf today. Lets teach children fiscal responsibility. Now there would be a stunningly useful thing to accomplish and discover.
PreacherMan
2.8 / 5 (6) Sep 14, 2013
ChristineKMickelson - so for a family that doesn't already have a PC, what pray tell is your alternative that will allow a child access to a computer at home for less than $100 ? Your arguments are flawed because you are making the assumption that everyone already has a PC in their home. Go troll somewhere else.
Knobee
3 / 5 (2) Sep 14, 2013
There are no "peripherals" required in this configuration, and only a USB keyboard and a monitor to get it setup with other operating systems (once configuration is done, it's easy enough to run headless).

I'm really interested to know what ChristineKMickelson has against the Pi... I wonder how many of them she owns (I personally have about 5 of them, doing all sorts of interesting things) and none of them have come close to costing me $100.

An author of a "tech blog" somewhere else had this same "oh, it cost me $100" argument the other day... it's a load of hogwash.

It costs one ethernet port, a USB power supply (which you probably already have from your discarded iPhones) and an SD card. Definitely not $100 worth of anything.
Knobee
3 / 5 (2) Sep 14, 2013
The problem with all web enabled platforms of Google is, this company can cut them out without warning


Coder is open source running on your own computer. How is Google going to take it away?

If this were something running "out there" in "the cloud", I'd agree (to a minor extent), but this isn't the right place to argue about Google services and how long they will be around.
Knobee
1 / 5 (2) Sep 14, 2013
Because Google provides the web platform (a cloud) for running of Rassberry applications.


Plonk.
Q-Star
4.4 / 5 (7) Sep 14, 2013
And if you will become an obstacle for Google, it can cut you from all his free-paid services without problem.


Ya mean like they did when ya went to far with your spamming on their forums? Only over there, they didn't ban the username, as physorg does, they banned your IP address, and after ya tried to change that and still "become an obstacle for Google" they banned your very machine. That really annoyed ya, eh?

Don't ya hate it when your notoriety travels before ya Zeph? Why don't ya tell everyone about the Google v Zephyr dust up, I'm sure they will enjoy the story. Or should I tell it my way?.
Gmr
4 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2013
Don't ya hate it when your notoriety travels before ya Zeph? Why don't ya tell everyone about the Google v Zephyr dust up, I'm sure they will enjoy the story. Or should I tell it my way?


Oh, /do/ tell... : )
Mickle4243
1 / 5 (3) Sep 15, 2013
Google just chill..............!
For see google latest technology just open link into your browser
www . atechplanet.com/google-glass-the-future-on-your-face
www . atechplanet.com/3-wheel-scooter-150cc-scooter
Captain Stumpy
1.5 / 5 (8) Sep 15, 2013
Don't ya hate it when your notoriety travels before ya Zeph? Why don't ya tell everyone about the Google v Zephyr dust up, I'm sure they will enjoy the story. Or should I tell it my way?.


by all means, please DO tell ! I am sure it will enlighten!
alfie_null
5 / 5 (1) Sep 15, 2013
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. This may end up being the situation for all the kids who primarily use their Raspberry as a web server.

Where I work, we have a bunch of computers. Of all shapes and sizes. Doing a lot of things that are very interesting. Things that have nothing to do with the web. To make those computers operate efficiently and reliably, requires knowledge and skills way different from those needed for standing up a web server.

Probably not a popular view, and not to slight Google (whom I greatly admire), but fiddling around with web servers just isn't that interesting, in the greater context of what computers have the potential to do.

You can accomplish amazing types of communication via HTTP. And you can make Javascript perform amazing feats of computation. But it's a bit like teaching a horse to dance.
_traw_at
not rated yet Sep 15, 2013
More than one person has missed the point of this, that is, to allow kids (and others) to learn programming.
I'm sure Christine Mickelson wouldn't appreciate it if some kid re-wrote the OS on her PC/ laptop and rendered it inoperable, or lose files.
It could be a darned pricey trip to the repair shop to recover files, get the machine running again.
dtxx
2 / 5 (8) Sep 15, 2013
Zephyr vs. Google? *pulls up a chair* You better tell it Q-star. Otherwise it will be told from the perspective of the 2 dimensional surface of water as explained in aether theory.
Gmr
5 / 5 (1) Sep 15, 2013

You can accomplish amazing types of communication via HTTP. And you can make Javascript perform amazing feats of computation. But it's a bit like teaching a horse to dance.


Ouch - that is a lot of my day job - but really a lot of learning to program in JavaScript does port over to general programming, at least on the object oriented side, so it isn't a bad start if you have to start somewhere - better in my opinion than the old standard "20 goto 10" type of basic language.
Q-Star
5 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2013
Zephyr vs. Google? *pulls up a chair* You better tell it Q-star. Otherwise it will be told from the perspective of the 2 dimensional surface of water as explained in aether theory.


Well, I really wish Zephyr would tell it. It's really more interesting the way he tells it.

Zephyr used to have a blog site called,,, ya guessed it AetherWaveTheory. He was promoting it eight or ten times a day at various science oriented sites,, 8 or 10 times a day per site. But the responses he was getting were not what he wished for. It seems dozens of people were resisting his new physics and it got so troublesome, that he had to start banning people from commenting on his AWT.

But Zephyr, he really wanted people to talk to him, a dilemma sure. Anyhoo, he bothered so many people by posting his link, that sites started removing his links from their comment sections. Zeph took great umbrage at this, and decided he would see if he could get the Google to get his links unblocked.,,,,
Q-Star
5 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2013
Zeph v Google continued:

So of course the Google couldn't help him with making someone post his links,,,,

Zeph then went on a anti-Google rampage. He posted everywhere and anywhere that would allow him to post. The wildest, and most rambunctious of pontifications about how the Google was suppressing his AWT. They had instructions from the "mainstream" scientists to censor his works.

On the Google forums he railed and stamped. So much so that they banned him. He would come right back with a new username, they banned him again. He'd come back and they banned his IP addresses. Somehow he proxied his way around that, so they finally banned his machines.

The end result? Since his machines were banned from the Google. He lost access to his blog,, it's lain dormant for several years now because he can't log on to it update it, though he will still link to it from time to time.

So now Zeph can't do anything on any Google server until he buys a new machine to do it on..
Captain Stumpy
1.5 / 5 (8) Sep 15, 2013
so.. basically, then, the analogy should be something like: the AWT is like ripples in a bathtub until Google pulls the plug?

makes MUCH more sense now! thanks!

Vash
5 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2013
Zeph can't do anything on any Google server until he buys a new machine
You cannot solve IP ban with buying of new machine. IMO you're speculating way too much about it...;-)

Try reading a little more, Franklins. He wasn't talking about the IP ban requiring a new machine. He was talking about Google banning the actual machine (for example: the MAC Address of the NIC) itself. So not only did Google ban usernames and IP addresses, but they banned the hardware too.