How to Create an Action Plan When Writing a MicroWorlds EX Computer Program

By Camille McCue

Part of Coding For Kids For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Writing a new computer program begins with creating an action plan. The action plan tells what smaller parts you need to make and put together to build the entire program. Your action plan should contain steps such as the following.

Planning your design and layout:

  • Define the program purpose: game, simulation, or animated scene.

  • Select or paint backgrounds on the pages.

  • Create pages or screens that your program needs: splash page, action page, and levels. Add transitions between pages.

  • Create characters if needed by hatching turtles and then selecting shapes from the Painting/Clipart palette, or painting new shapes in shape spots on the Shapes pane. (Double-click a shape spot to open the Shape Editor.)

  • Make text boxes with titles, labels, and instructions.

  • Make text boxes to show variable values. If a variable value carries over between pages, define a project variable and then make text boxes to show the project variable value.

Creating character actions:

  • In each turtle backpack on the State tab, set character attributes. This is especially useful for attributes that don’t change during the program — after these are assigned, you don’t have to set these values again. Examples include size, shape, and heading and I have variablename values. However, these values can be changed at any time during program execution, if needed.

  • In each turtle backpack on the Rules tab, add primitives or procedures to the OnClick, OnColor, OnTick, OnTouching, OnMessage, and When This Do That fields.

  • If needed, add universal color under conditionals to the background. Commands added to the background will be executed when a turtle touches a designated color.

Adding features, such as ways for users to interact and multimedia:

  • If a drop-down list will be used, create and name the drop-down list and add the items to the list.

  • If a slider will be used, create and name the slider. The slider is a variable with values that can be changed in the graphical user interface.

  • Add buttons to the graphical user interface so that users can execute the code you have written and interact with your program.

  • If needed, add audio features such as music or sound effects.

Programming the actions:

  • In the Procedures pane, write procedures that will be executed to control program flow, react to program conditions, and react to user input.

  • In the Procedures pane, write an initialization procedure to set starting conditions for program execution. This may include setting initial variable values and turtle sizes, shapes, headings, and positions, whether turtles show or hide, and whether turtles are clicked on or clicked off.