Development Starts at MIT

Nov 8, 2011 hal's Blog

I’m happy to use this first post in our App Inventor Development Blog to announce that MIT work on App Inventor is underway, and even happier to introduce Andrew McKinney as our newly hired technical lead for the Center and for App Inventor development.  Andrew has a 20-year history of educational technology leadership at Harvard and MIT, including being lead developer on MIT’s Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) physics project, which was MIT’s signature redesign of our freshman physics courses.  You’ll be hearing from Andrew in subsequent postings to this blog.

Right now, our top development priority at the Center is to build an App Inventor service for general public access.  This will be similar to the one Google currently runs and is planning to take offline at the end the year as announced last summer on the App Inventor Announcement Forum.

We do not expect our new Center service to be running in time for App Inventor users to make an uninterrupted transition from Google’s system to ours.  Given the amount of development and testing required, the best we can say now is that we plan for it to be available sometime in the first quarter of 2012. We regret that this will disrupt plans of educators who anticipated using a public App Inventor service in January and February.

Even though our general public service will not be ready, we’re working to make it possible for technically experienced people to install their own small-scale App Inventor services to use next semester.   For example,

These services will run on Google App Engine for Java.  In order to deploy the service, you’ll need to be able to use App Engine for Java, or find someone who can run the service for you.   We’ve just begun testing this code at MIT, and we’re aiming to make experimental versions publicly available before the end of December.   A caution: These initial releases may be unstable, and we have not done load testing.  So don’t rely on the initial service to support more than a few users.  We’ll post more information as our testing proceeds.

Remember that in order to migrate your current App Inventor projects to these new services (your own, or our public one when it becomes available) you’ll need to download your projects from the Google server before it goes offline on Dec. 31 and save them to be later uploaded to the new service.