Welcome to LiveCode University!
This course you will study here in the LiveCode University application, Programming with LiveCode, is targeted toward high school to college age learners and above. It is assumed that the user will have an average mathematical and technical background; that is, that they are familiar with the fundamentals of algebra, logic and geometry.
Upon completion of this course users will:
- Understand the fundamentals of programming and be able to build simple programs and utilities to solve specific tasks. These fundamentals include:
- The importance of proper sequence of commands;
- Use of conditional structures in programming;
- Use of looping structures in programming;
- Use of variables for storing data;
- The use of predefined routines to enable reuse of code.
- Acquire general skills of logic, problem solving and knowledge of programming concepts that will transfer to other languages and development environments.
- Become familiar with the LiveCode Integrated Development Environment (IDE).
- Understand how to build upon his existing knowledge of LiveCode to discover new capabilities of the environment and language.
What is LCU?
LiveCode University is an application that delivers a complete course called Programming with LiveCode. The course and the LCU application were originally developed by Devin Asay for use in a course in the the Digital Humanities and Technology program at Brigham Young University. The course content has been made available to the public and is intended for anyone, from teen to adult, who wants to learn the fundamentals of programming in a friendly, informal setting. The target audience is people who have no background in programming who wish to create their own custom applications and utilities.
Programming with LiveCode is a complete introduction to programming course, with readings, interactive examples, projects and answer keys. The content has been used and developed over many years in a university course that teaches students from non-technical backgrounds how to program. Because the author’s background is primarily in the second language education field, many of the examples and assignments use examples suited to that field. However the concepts may be applied to help you create any kind of software you can dream up.
The programming language and environment used in this course is LiveCode from LiveCode Ltd. It is a rapid application development environment that uses an easy-to-learn, English-like scripting language that removes much of the tedium of programming from the developer, leaving you free to try out your ideas quickly.
What LCU is Not
LiveCode University is not intended to be an exhaustive reference guide to all of LiveCode’s capabilities. For that there are excellent resources available from Livecode—the LiveCode User Guide and the LiveCode Dictionary. They are both readily accessible through LiveCode’s help menu, or online at http://livecode.com/developers/guides/.
LiveCode University is not a collection of unrelated tutorials. Instead, it is a complete course, in which lessons and assignments build upon one another, and are intended to be done in order.
Getting the Most From LCU
You will gain the most from this course if you follow it strictly and discipline yourself to complete each assignment, including the self-evaluation step, in which you compare what you have done to a key that is provided with each assignment.
There are also two examinations included in the course, the Fundamentals Exam and the Final Exam. If you are using the Personal Edition, I urge you to take the exams as if you were in a real classroom course, only checking the keys after you complete them. If you’re using this program as part of a formal college or high school course, you’ll be following the schedule and rules set by your instructor.
Conventions Used in LCU
To make things easier to follow in the text, we use the following formatting conventions:
LiveCode scripting examples are presented in a
put "Hello world." into field "display"
New or important terms are shown in bold face.
Hot links in the text are shown in blue text. When clicked they will launch interactive demos or activities, or display supplemental information from the web.
Using LiveCode University: First Launch
The first time you use LCU you will need to create a login name. This creates a user account so that you can track your progress (or, in the case of the classroom edition, allows your teacher to track your progress and give feedback.) Each separate user can also write notes and memos to themselves for any page of any lesson.
When you enter your name in the create login dialog, keep in mind that the name you enter here will be the one that prints out on your course completion certificate, which you can print out once you complete all lessons, assignments and exams in this course.
Once you’ve created your login account, you only have to enter your user name and password to enter LCU.
LiveCode University Trial Version
If you downloaded and installed the free trial version, or purchased the full version but have not yet entered your license information, you will at first be running in trial mode. The free trial mode lets you try out LCU for up to 10 days, and gives you access to around one third of the total content, allowing you the chance to evaluate the program and decide whether you would like to purchase the full version.
While you are in trial mode you will notice that much of the lesson material in the Content List is grayed out. If you select an unavailable lesson you'll see a notice like the one on the right that will give you information about how to upgrade or, if you have already purchased the complete version, allow you to enter your license code.
The same options are also available from the Help menu:
Help > Upgrade to Full Version
Help > Register LiveCode University
Note: When entering your LCU license information after purchase, be sure to enter your name and license code exactly as they appear in your license confirmation.
Using LiveCode University: The Content List
After you log in, you will find yourself on the Contents page. The entire contents of the course is available from this expanding tree-list style menu. If you click on the title of a unit you will be taken to the first lesson in that unit. To go to a specific lesson, click on the expand icon next to the unit you want to enter, then choose the lesson from the expanded list.
The LCU software keeps track of your progress in a database and you can see your progress in the content list. Progress is marked by the round progress icons displayed next to each lesson or assignment, as follows:
Means you have completed the given lesson or assignment.
Means you have viewed the content but haven’t finished that lesson or assignment. Lessons are considered finished after you have completed the comprehension check at least once. A few lessons have no comprehension check, so they are considered finished after you have viewed the entire lesson. Assignments are considered finished when you have submitted them and you have completed the self-evaluation for the assignment (for the Personal Edition), or your instructor has evaluated them (for the classroom edition.)
In the LCU Personal Edition you can go to the self-evaluation tool by choosing the Go menu > Self-evaluation Tool.
Means you have not yet begun that lesson or assignment.
Showing progress details.
The content list also lets you view the details of each time you have viewed a lesson, including start and end time and the results of the comprehension check. To see the lesson and assignment details, just click on the progress icon next to that section.
Check out these features the next time you visit the Contents List. (The double left-facing arrow at the bottom of the lesson screen returns you to the Contents List.)
In addition to the progress indicators on the contents page, you can see a summary of your progress through all assignments by choosing Progress Report... from the Go menu.
Organization of Lessons
Each lesson is divided into four sections--objectives, content pages, comprehension check, and references.
The learning objectives for each lesson or assignment are clearly laid out on the first screen of each new lesson or assignment. You should pay particular attention to these, because they are considered the crucial information you should know or understand before you proceed to the next lesson.
The new material for each lesson is presented on the content pages. Content is divided up into manageable chunks so you don’t get overwhelmed with too much new information on a single screen.
Most lessons will end in a short comprehension check. These are short quizzes that allow you to check to see how well you understand the information presented in that lesson. If you struggle with the comprehension check questions it may be a good idea to go through the lesson again.
At the end of each lesson is a reference page with a list of sources for getting more in-depth information on the topic you just concluded. These include references to the LiveCode User Guide, LiveCode’s online lessons and tutorials, and third party web sites.
Lesson and Assignment Pages
You’ll spend most of your time working through lessons and assigments. This all starts here on the content page. At the top of the content section you will always see the title of the current lesson or assignment. Lessons and assigments are broken down into pages to keep the amount of information displayed on the screen manageable.
This is the where all content is displayed for each page. It is always on the left side of the screen. In the right-hand “sidebar” area you will see frequent, helpful expanded information designed to clarify or help you apply the information in the content area. In the expanded information sidebar you may see several different kinds of illustrations, information and interactive examples:
Important information that directly illustrates and expands on the reading will be marked and labeled with a green asterisk like this:
Try It! - These are interactive activities designed to allow you to practice the concepts presented in the content area immediately, without having to change over into the full LiveCode environment.
Example. These are sample interactive applets that demonstrate how the concepts in the reading work.
Definition. Sometimes you’ll see expanded definitions of some of the terms you are reading about under the Definition heading.
Less critical supplemental information will be marked and labeled with a blue asterisk like this:
More Info. This is the heading for expanded information that may be of interest, but isn’t really critical for you to know.
Remember. This heading highlights information you’ll want to be sure to remember.
Warnings will be marked like this:
Warning. Under this heading we’ll highlight information that, if not heeded, could cause damage to your stacks or cause difficult-to-recover-from errors.
Giving Yourself More Room.
The LCU content pages can be easily enlarged or shrunken by dragging the normal window resize handles for your operating system. You can also change the proportion of space used for text vs. expanded information by dragging the separator line between the two sections.
You can attach notes for yourself to any page of any lesson or assignment. Just choose Note... from the Edit menu. When you return to that page and open the note window, your notes will still be there until you change or delete them. These notes are user-specific, so they are only available when you log in with your user name and password. Any other users who create a login account to use the software will have their own set of notes. Try creating a note for this page. When you leave and come back, you’ll see that the note is still there, indicated by the presence of the note icon atop the content space:
Self-evaluation of Assignments
As mentioned earlier, if you want to complete the entire course and receive a course completion certificate, you will need to do a self-evaluation of each assignment and exam submitted. It's fairly simple to do. Just follow these steps:
Submit the assignment. Each assignment will include an uploader widget that will allow you to submit your assignment to the database. Once the assignment is submitted it will show as partially completed in the Content list:
Self-evaluate the submitted assignment. Most assignments also include a key that shows an acceptible solution to the assignment. You can use these to compare to your own submission.
Open the Self-evalution Tool from the Go menu.
Use the Self-evalution Tool to give yourself a score and optional comments. Once you do that and click the Submit button, your assignment will show as completed:
Navigation and Appearance
There are a number of menus and controls that can help you move around quickly and easily through lessons and assignments.
Revealing the Content List from the Content Screen
Notice the draggable bar on the far left side of the Lesson screen. By dragging it to the right you can reveal the Contents list, so you can quickly jump to any other lesson or assignment. To hide it again, just drag it back to the left.
The Go menu
Use the Go menu and its keyboard shortcuts to quickly logout, return to the Contents list screen, go to a specific lesson number, go to the previous or next page of the current lesson, or go to the previous or next lesson. You can also choose Progress Report... to see a summary of your progress on LCU the assignments. Finally, there is a choice on this menu for launching the LiveCode IDE.
The Navigation Bar
The navigation bar below the content area allows you to go to the previous or next page by clicking on the left or right facing arrows. You can return to the Contents list screen by clicking on the left facing double arrows. To jump to any page in the lesson, right click on the current page number and choose any other page from the drop down list.
The View menu
Using the view menu you can increase or decrease the size of the text in the content area.
Help and Updates
You will notice that if you hover your mouse over any control on the page for a couple of seconds, a “tooltip” message will appear describing the function of that control. For example, move your mouse pointer over the double left arrows at the bottom left of the Lesson screen. After a second or two a tooltip message will appear to remind you what that control is for.
The Help menu
The Help menu lets you access help materials, upgrade or register your copy of LCU, and check for content updates. It offers the following options:
Online Help – Takes you to a website with this introductory material on it. This website will also be the place for Frequently Asked Questions, troubleshooting resources, installation help, and version information.
Check for Content Updates – Occasionally there may be updates or corrections to the contents of this course. You can choose this option at any time to check for updates. Be sure you have a good internet connection before you check. After downloading updates it is a good idea to log out and log in again to ensure the contents list is updated.
Upgrade to Full Version – If you downloaded the limited free trial version of LCU, this option will take you to livecode.com where you can opt to purchase the complete version. (This option only appears in the trial version.)
Register LiveCode University – When you upgrade to the full version of LCU, you will be given a license code to enter. Choose this option to enter the license information. When you do this successfully you will be prompted to download the full contents of LCU. You have the option of downloading the contents automatically (recommended for most users) or downloading the contents "offline" (recommended if you have a slow internet connection or have experienced problems downloading the full course contents.)
Import Contents File... – After you have registered your copy of LCU by entering the license code you will be instructed to download the full contents of the course. This normally happens behind the scenes and requires little intervention by you. However, if you have a slow internet connection you may choose to download the contents file "offline" using your web browser. This enables you to resume an interrupted download. During this process you create a file called "pwr_complete". Once the offline download is complete, select the Import Contents File... menu option to import its contents into LCU.
Reset LiveCode University – This option will reset LCU to the condition it was in when you first installed it.
Warning! Choosing this option will delete all lesson and assignment tracking records. It cannot be undone.
That’s your quick tour through LiveCode University. Now just return to the LCU Contents List and choose Unit 1, Lesson 1 to start learning how to program with LiveCode.