Similar to Alice, which we have covered before, it is meant as a beginners tutorial to programming; however the main difference is that Alice is a GUI programming toolkit while Hackety Hack is a text-based “real” programming environment.
To begin, download Hackety Hack [No longer available] for your operating system. Versions are available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Even though their website says that it is for 64-bit only the download worked fine on my Windows 32-bit machine so perhaps that is meant for the Mac OS X version only.
Click “Ready” to begin the program.
Learning Programming Basics
Hackety Hack begins with a menu of Lessons. Begin by learning how the Hackety Hack system is set up. It will show you what each button on the left side means and what happens when you click them.
The rest of the tutorials are geared towards beginner programmers but if you are new to the Ruby language they will also be helpful. They are witty and fun which helps while you are learning a programming language; if you have ever read a boring tutorial before you will know what I mean.
How To Program In Ruby
The first program you will write will be a “Hello World” program which is standard in computer programming language circles. Don’t try to copy and paste the program – it won’t let you and you learn the language much better when you type it out.
From there, you get progressively difficult levels of programming from the tutorials. After you have the basics of programming including algorithms, loops, variables and so forth down; you will move on to a graphical programming toolkit included with Hackety Hack named Shoes.
The last tutorial on Hackety Hack is a basic Shoes program. Learning how to manage input boxes and the results on a graphical interface is an important step in writing a “real world” program that you can interact with. The tutorial will run you through a sample input text and output.
I’ve Done The Tutorials, What Next?
If you’ve finished the tutorials the fun doesn’t stop there. Hackety Hack has integration with its website allowing you to upload your own programs and view other programs folks have uploaded. These give you a better idea as to what is possible with the programming language Ruby, and as with most programming languages you are only limited to your imagination. Once you are done with the Hackety Hack tutorials, you may want to check out these other resources for learning Ruby:
- Shoes manual, tutorials, examples and more
- Programming Ruby
- Learning Ruby – O’Reilly Book
- The Ruby Manual
Once you have outgrown Hackety Hack, download Ruby for your operating system and continue on your programming journey.
Hackety Hack is a great introduction to the Ruby language for programmers and non-programmers alike. I would say it is meant for anyone who has basic algebraic math skills, perhaps as young as 10 years old. But don’t let that turn you away if you are older – it is written in such a way that for even experienced programmers it is not insulting and actually it is good to go over the basics again.
I did run into a few program crashes and the lack of the ability to paste in any text, which hindered the import of some larger programs from their website. I’m not sure if this is on purpose or a bug but some paste functionality would be helpful for larger programs.
If you have been wanting to learn a programming language there is no better time than now to get started. Hackety Hack is a perfect way to get started learning Ruby. If you begin to spend a lot of time writing programs just don’t blame me!