0

Book Review: Learn to Program With Minecraft

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 8.20.50 AMLearn to Program With Minecraft ($30, Dec. 15, 2015, 320 pages from No Starch Press)
Review by Matthew DiMatteo, CTR Staff

A more accurate title for this book might be “Learn to Program With Python, Using a Minecraft Theme.” That’s because the book teaches programming concepts and the Python language using Minecraft as the application. Each chapter focuses on a programming concept (Setup, Variables, Math, Strings, Booleans, If Statements, Loops, Functions, Lists/Dictionaries, Files/Modules, Object-Oriented Programming).

This book is a good resource for anyone looking to learn the basics of programming or the Python language, provided they like Minecraft.  Since the examples use the Minecraft Python API, all of the exercises are applied to Minecraft operations. If you just want to learn Python, you may be better off trying the tutorials on the Python site. But for a kid who likes Minecraft, the fact that everything is applied to it makes it a compelling way to learn. As far as the quality of the book itself, I’d say it does a very good job breaking down the material, builds on concepts well, and offers plenty of opportunity for critical thinking through “missions.”

At $30, it seems like a reasonable comparison to me in terms of content and structure is “Learning Processing,” which cost $80.

Strengths:

  • The earlier chapters cover more core programming concepts, the later ones are more advanced, synthesizing multiple concepts.
  • It covers both Windows and Mac install, also covers a bit of the Raspberry Pi (though more as another platform option for running Minecraft than anything to do with physical computing).
  • It uses screenshots and code snippets as well.
  • The step-by-step instructions are well-organized in sections and easy to read.
  • After introducing concepts through examples, the book offers missions for reader to apply the skills learned (ex. teleport a character, build a pyramid).

Weaknesses:

  • The book doesn’t focus on Python alone. You must download and install Minecraft to be able to follow the examples.

About Python:

  • Python is similar to Javascript in syntax, minus the semicolons (open source).
  • The examples in this book use the Minecraft Python API (reminds me of Processing) and the IDLE programming environment.
  • You can edit using either a Shell (for running test code quickly) or a Text Editor (for writing programs).

Some useful links:
Python home – https://www.python.org/
Minecraft Python API reference – http://www.stuffaboutcode.com/p/minecraft-api-reference.html
Raspberry Pi Minecraft Tutorials – https://www.raspberrypi.org/learning/getting-started-with-minecraft-pi/

Filed in: Families, Libraries, Publishers, Research, Schools Tags: , , , ,

Get Updates

Share This Post

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Submit Comment
*

© 2904 Children's Technology Review. All rights reserved.