Learning to code is not an easy task. Many people try to learn a new programming language only to be confronted with a wall-like learning curve. Programming books often introduce completely new concepts by the dozen, and online programs can be poorly paced or poorly written.
Another contributing factor to this problem is access. Not many people have enough time to be on their computer for long courses or for hours of coding practice, and some people don’t have laptops or desktop computers in the first place.
Enter the Grasshopper app. This app is designed to be an introduction to programming for those entirely new to it and to help those with some programming knowledge pick up some skills. Let’s take an in-depth look at this app and see how it stands up.
Grasshopper is especially targeted at those with little to no coding experience, with its short, easy-to-digest lessons. The app teaches fundamentals like functions, variables, and methods. It rewards participants with awards and certificates for completing each course. While the career value of these is debatable, they give the user a sense of real progress.
Grasshopper is also made for people with some coding experience, though the interface and style of teaching lead me to believe that code newbies are the target audience for this app.
The app itself is available for free on Android and iOS. It also has an in-browser desktop version with different courses available. Since this is an app review, I will stick with the mobile version of Grasshopper, though if you like the mobile version, the desktop course integrates nicely with the app and is worth trying out.
Grasshopper seems to have been conceived by a brainstorming session where the first question was, ‘What are all of the barriers to entry when learning to code?’
In the Grasshopper app, the dreaded learning curve of new programming concepts is broken into tiny, bite-sized chunks. Instead of trying to read lengthy explanations to understand programming concepts in-depth, new learners are introduced to these concepts in the simplest way possible. The app features fun, quick coding puzzles, quizzes, and lessons.
This is both a benefit and a drawback for the course. Users get a chance to try basic programming fundamentals quickly and without the burden of an in-depth explanation. However, at the same time, the course tends to hold the learner’s hand. While Grasshopper’s activities are great ways to introduce beginners to coding concepts, learners will likely need more training to code outside of the app after they complete the courses.
The Grasshopper app mitigates the time requirement needed to learn coding fundamentals by teaching in short lessons that users move through progressively. It’s built to be used in tiny amounts of time, like while waiting in line or during a commute. The app’s activities allow users to learn something new in moments, making it something users can squeeze into almost any busy schedule.
Keeping it interesting
Learning to code can be boring for some people. Grasshopper combats this by gamifying the learning process and, more importantly, by applying new concepts in a visual way.
Each lesson resembles a path with levels, much like puzzle apps or Super Mario World; you are rewarded with achievements and decorations for the titular grasshopper. The lessons are short and smooth, and they run into each other nicely. The result is an almost addictive experience, which is rare in a learning environment.
The Grasshopper app’s lessons and practices are designed to give real-time feedback; users get to see their code in action after they type it. This really showcases to beginners the magic of coding and will hopefully provide an appreciation that will help carry them through the drier aspects of programming.
Getting practice and learning from mistakes
This is perfect for visual learners and those brand new to code as it creates a sandbox situation where it’s difficult to make a mistake in your code. However, without further training and practice, learners using this method may struggle when they begin typing code outside of the app.
Additionally, because of this visual coding system, users don’t get the opportunity to make syntax mistakes (like missing a semicolon or improperly closing parentheses) and to learn from those mistakes. Learning to look for and debug these kinds of mistakes is an important skill for coders, and the only real way to learn this skill is to make those mistakes yourself.
That said, the content that is included is of high quality. Also, the app serves as a good introduction for programming in almost any language, allowing users to move on to more advanced content more easily.
Grasshopper’s Google backing shows through in the app’s slick design and logical organization. This app looks and feels fantastic on a mobile screen, and the game-like UX is intuitive and well planned. Thanks to simple yet colorful graphics, Grasshopper creates a light-hearted and fun learning environment.
Of particular note is the semi-visual code keyboard. Typing code requires precision that phone keyboards typically do not afford, and most coders (and learners) hate typing code on a touchscreen keypad. Grasshopper’s keyboard design eliminates this problem almost entirely, making writing a block of code simple on mobile.
At no point did I encounter any errors, crashes, or bugs within the app. However, some reviewers on the Google Play store encountered bugs, like an infinite loading screen. That said, there are very few apps that do not have these kinds of reviews, and this app has an exceptionally low number of negative reports.
Grasshopper features a Google account integration or an email sign-up, along with an integration between the desktop version of the app and the mobile app. There is also a support forum accessible through the app.
Aside from this, there was very little integration. I saw no way to pull the code I had made into the real world outside of the app or even any options to share my progress or patches on social media, which was a minor disappointment. However, it was nice to have a streamlined learning environment.
Admirably, at no point did the app ever make any mention of money. The app is free to download, and there are no in-app purchases. The entirety of the content is available at no cost, which is a refreshing—and rare—experience in today’s app market.
If you’re new to coding, we highly recommend trying out Grasshopper to start your programming journey and to get the basics in a comfortable way. If you have some coding experience, however, you may find a better fit elsewhere.
Overall, Grasshopper isn’t designed for professionals. Nonetheless, it’s a great resource for beginners to learn the basics while on the go. The app features a convenient and easy-to-use interface, along with an engaging user experience, making it a top choice for new programmers.
- Does Grasshopper have any in-app purchases?
No. In fact, the app is completely free to use and at no point asks for any amount of money.
- What language will Grasshopper teach me?
- Will Grasshopper teach me to be a coding professional?