The latest update to the Pi’s Raspbian distro offers Scratch 2.0 improvements

New features include offline Scratch 2.0 with easier GPIO access

Raspberry Pi enthusiasts have some new toys to play with following the latest Raspbian OS update, which delivers offline Scratch 2.0 support with physical computing through enhanced GPIO support, new icons and the Thonny IDE.

LEDs, buzzers, and input from buttons and sensors can be easily incorporated into a Scratch project

While the custom icons add a new polish to the Pi desktop, the Thonny IDE brings a great new way to program in Python and enables users to finally jettison IDLE.

Above As well as an offline version of Scratch 2.0, the update adds Thonny, a Python IDE for beginners

The big news, however, is the ability to use Scratch 2.0 offline. A feature-packed upgrade to Scratch 1.4 (which used the Squeak language), Scratch 2.0 works thanks to a collaboration between the Raspberry Pi team and Adobe. In late 2016, a new version of the Pepper Flash plug-in was released, compatible with Chromium and capable of running on Raspbian Jessie. To deal with Scratch 2.0’s need for an internet connection, the latest Raspbian sees local Flash code and Electron working together as a local webpage packaged as an app. This fools Scratch 2.0 into thinking the Pi is online when it isn’t! The previous limits of Scratch have also been addressed. “We know that people want to use Scratch for physical computing and it has always been a bit awkward to access GPIO pins from Scratch,” says Simon Long, the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s UX engineer. Although possible in Scratch 1.4, with Scratch 2.0 this has been improved, so that LEDs, buzzers and input from buttons and sensors can be easily incorporated into a Scratch project. Custom blocks, sprite cloning and peripheral interaction are also included with Scratch 2.0. For fans of Scratch, this will mean a myriad of new ways to explore the possibilities the block-based development tool offers.

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