Scratch 2 is now in beta, here.
Great timing, as just after a whole load of teacher resources for Scratch get published (CAS RPi manual, and RSE packs), Scratch 2.0 gets announced with a range of very useful additions to the language. More on this – and another version of Scratch with procedures – below.
Most obvious is the addition of procedures, to allow for the development of more reusable and flexible code, but the ability of sprites to create clones of themselves is also very powerful. A sprite for an agent can be created and hidden, and then in response to some event a clone created. On creation, the clone is shown and starts some behaviours automatically. Clones can also be deleted during run-time. Particle effects, boids and lots lots more become possible.
Of course, procedures (aka blocks) have been a feature of the Scratch derivative BYOB developed by Brian Harvey at Berkeley for quite a few years now. BYOB is effectively now a parallel development of Scratch. BYOB is not the catchiest of names, and is currently moving towards version 4 with a new name – Snap – and a facelift. What is nice is that there is a version you can use online without downloading anything at all – yes, you can develop Snap projects live in a web-page. The caveat on this is that this is live work in progress, and may fall over at any time. But from a quick play, I have to say that I’m very impressed with the look and feel and speed of it. While it doesn’t have the same mind-share and community support as Scratch, I would say it is well worth a look.