Logo Programming on the pocket PC
According to the server logs one of the most popular posts I have made on Walking Randomly is the one I made a couple of months ago about the Logo programming language. Of course this may be due to the fact that this year marked the 40th anniversary of the language thus leading people to google for nostalgic reasons but it may also be because it is a genuinely interesting language. One thing that’s for certain is that programming in Logo can be a lot of fun and naturally leads to further study of concepts such as recursion, geometry and fractals.
With this in mind I thought it was high time I worked out a way of installing Logo on the pocket PC so that I can play with it on my new toy – the remarkable HTC TyTyn II My task set, I embarked on a set of very extensive google searches and to my surprise came up with very little.
The only native windows mobile solution that I could find was a free package called pocket turtle by Morten of Xpoint.dk. Although very much in the alpha stages of development (It only supports 6 commands and no user defined functions) this software looked promising and so I contacted the author to ask what he plans to do with it. His reply was prompt and friendly but unfortunately his future plans do not include any more pocket turtle development which is a shame but understandable since developing free software is a very time consuming affair. I tried to install it anyway since a little Logo is better than none at all but unfortunately could not get it on my new Windows Mobile 6 device.
Things were looking bleak on the pocket-pc logo front. Just as I was about to give up and resign myself to using my laptop to quench my Logo thirst, I came across a package called TinyLogo which was developed quite a while ago now. It is free, which is nice, but unfortunatley it only runs on PalmOS hardware. Now this is great news for the Palm users out there (Amanda – are you taking note of this?) but not so good for the likes of me.
A fantastic piece of (nonfree) software called StyleTap came to my rescue. Essentially what this does is emulate the Palm OS operating system on Windows Mobile devices so now you can run all of those must have Palm programs (such as TinyLogo) on your pocket PC.
I installed the trial version of StyleTap then installed TinyLogo on top of that and it worked like a charm. The TinyLogo icon appears on my device exactly as if it were a native application and the only way I can tell that this is not the case is that the menus look a little old fashioned (just like Palm OS) when I use it.
A quick read of the TinyLogo documentation later (recommended since the interface is not very intuitive in my opinion) and I was cooking on gas as the following screenshots demonstrate.
There is one minor problem. In order to write and edit TinyLogo scripts you need to use the standard PalmOS application ‘MemoPad’ and this is not included with StyleTap – probably for copyright reasons. All is not lost, however, since it turns out that MemoPad is not very good and so many people have developed free MemoPad replacements. One such example is jpad which also works on StyleTap without a hitch and has the added bonus of looking delightfully old fashioned which somehow enhanced the Logo experience for me.
I was so pleased with the StyleTap emulator that I ended up buying it – not just for TinyLogo you understand (honest) – but because there are quite a few Palm OS applications out there that I would quite like to play with again.
In summary using TinyLogo via StyleTap is a workable (albeit fiddly) solution for Logo enthusiasts who would like to code directly on their pocket PC. The interface is old fashioned and non-intuitive (well it was coded back in 1999 so this is to be expected) and because of this, and the fact that you have to pay for the StyleTap emulator, I would not recommend it for classroom use. Hopefully someone, somewhere will come up with a native Windows Mobile solution but for now TinyLogo on StyleTap is the best we have.