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What is special about Etoys? Put your ideas here or send an email to
- The integration of "etoyish apps"
-- Graphs: With Ned Konz' "NetMorphs" you could produce things like [petrinets|]
-- Kedama
-- Dr. Geo (to be coming)
- Real subroutines (as opposed to Scratch)
- Unframed interactive environment for wider and deeper experience. Well, one may say it is a disadvantage because of the white page syndrome it induces...

- Clean open source license now (opposed to the source restrictions in scratch)

from Bert's mail (answer to Bill Kerr)

The power of Scratch lies in its limited scope - several years of development and refinement went into it to find the smallest set of features that make it easily teachable while still broadly applicable.

There are others who could describe the Squeak/Etoys philosophy better than me, but one of its core ideas is "no limits".

Where Scratch is a closed environment, Etoys provides just a thin layer of visual scripting on top of a much larger system. There are literally hundreds of objects that can be used as building blocks, from basic ones like rectangles, ellipses, polygons, or text, to complex ones like a book or a MIDI sequencer or video player or a working chess game (in Scratch there are only bitmap-sprites). In Etoys you can change coordinate systems, or embed objects into each other creating hierarchical animations, or connect objects with arrows to create diagrams that are fully scriptable, etc. In Scratch, every Sprite is separate, and they can communicate with others only by broadcasting - this is more limited but much easier to learn, and less prone to errors.

And if all that is not enough (there are always things the designers can't anticipate) Etoys lets you escape to the full Squeak environment. While Scratch is implemented in Squeak too, you cannot access it. Again that limitation was a conscious trade-off (for example it enables "players" for Scratch projects to be implemented in other languages).

Here are a few examples of my own projects in the Squeak showcase that I think would be hard to recreate in Scratch.

Collision Physics
(objects with collision sensors adding their forces to influence motion, this one is pure Etoys)

(adds a new Squeak class to simulate the pixel pattern of the XO's display)

(connects to a web service to get currency conversion rate using a few lines of Squeak scripting)

One of the fundamental Etoys ideas is that "authoring is always on", hence there are no designated screen areas reserved for authoring tools. In fact, the tools cannot be used just on the user-created content, but on the tools themselves. This is a powerful idea in our opinion, it helps in demystifying the tools.

You can have both tile scripts and textual scripts in Etoys, too. The difference is that there is no real need to use the textual scripting for the same stuff you can do with tiles. It's to access the advanced features, but you will have to know Squeak first to even know what to look for.