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Another Opinion
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Default Another Opinion - 12-02-2008, 08:14 PM

I certainly agree with Dick Baldwin that the class you describe could certainly master the programming aspects of Alice in a few hours - at most.

Since they are familiar with conventional programming languages, they would also, by that time, probably be fairly frustrated with the basic limitation of Alice 2.0. Alice (like Scratch, a similar but simpler tool) is basically designed as an aid to introducing beginners to programming - not as an actual program development environment. (That may change when Alice 3.0 is released.)

A second major limitation of Alice is that your students would have very limited options to show their results to potential employers. Basically, screen capture is the only option for video and running within Alice is the only workable option for interactive programs - the export to web page option basically doesn't work. The "Java-like" listings are also not very close to pure Java. (Again, it looks like Alice 3.0 will be much improved here.)

Having said all of this, I wouldn't totally discount Alice as a supplemental tool for teaching some aspects of computer animation and 3D modeling, simply because it is so easy to use. A computer animation course using a tool such as Maya typically runs about three terms - and, at least from the results I have seen locally, it takes about one term to get to the point to create results similar to what you can get from Alice in a few days. (Of course, after the full three terms, the results from the best students are far superior.) Alice might give a person focused on actual programming - which sounds like your class - a better feel for why the artist/modeler/animator may want certain things and how he might want to use the tools - without having to make the investment in time and effort to master a full commercial modeling tool.
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