- Age Range: 10 and up
- Grade Level: 5 - 12
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (December 1, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1593276702
- ISBN-13: 978-1593276706
- Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 59 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Learn to Program with Minecraft: Transform Your World with the Power of Python 1st Edition
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From the Publisher
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"This book makes it easy for you and your middle and high school students to learn how to program in Python through very engaging Minecraft projects."
" Not only would this book be great for motivated individuals, but teachers, tech coaches, librarians, and club leaders could use it as a basis for conducting their own classes and workshops."
—School Library Connection
About the Author
Craig Richardson is a software developer and Python educator. He has worked for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, taught high school computing classes, and led many workshops on Python programming with Minecraft.
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Top customer reviews
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Note: My 9 yr old is very advanced and is used to programming in Scratch as well as general troubleshooting of computers/software/mechanics. I would say this is appropriate for anyone 9 and older with a little parent help, and 12 and older without help.
This requires you purchase Minecraft from the Mohjang website for your child (Do not purchase the Windows 10 version of Minecraft since that cannot be used for modding at this time).
One of the first things that typically hits you when you want to prepare a package to teach the kids is to ensure that all the software is in place and organized into appropriate folders, so that the setup is not just minimal but also is intuitive enough for you to explain to the kids and for the kids to follow. This book takes extra steps on that front by making sure that in the first chapter itself : Setting Up for your Adventure, you have all the detailed steps to setting up the environment either for your PC, Mac or even Raspberry Pi. The instructions along with the ZIP files provided by the author worked well. Just ensure that you do not assume that just because you have some version of say Java, it should be fine. Take my advice and install the specific versions that the author has instructed and it works well.
The book then progresses well by explaining first about Python constructs and then applying them to do a little task in Minecraft. This approach ends up as being a refresher or learning material not just for Python but then also for the different objects and tasks that you can do inside of Minecraft.
Most aspects of Python are covered and some of these include:
- Expressions and Operators
- String Manipulation
- Conditional Statements
- File Operations
- Object Oriented Concepts
The above Python concepts are mapped beautifully to fun things that you can do inside Minecraft. These include teleporting the players, sending chat messages, Determining where you are standing in the game, Building structures via functions, Managing a list of items and so on.
I actually tested out various parts of this book with my two sons, aged 12 and 9, and they enjoyed various aspects of it. Especially the part where you could create complex structures via loops and the teleporting stuff.
If you are looking for a good and gentle introduction to Python and how you can program bits of Minecraft, this is a great reference to get going.
(tl;dr - give it go; it's definitely worth it.)
Bearing in mind I'm writing this is in Dec 2015 very soon after the book was published the setup process ran very smoothly on my Mac running El Capitan. You'll need OS X 10.10 or later and a paid version of the Minecraft desktop program (as far as I'm aware this book doesn't support mods to MC Pocket Edition or even playing MCPE on the supplied server software). Download Python 3 and the latest Java Development Kit (JDK) for free and a folder containing Spigot (an open source MC server) and other tools from the publisher's website. Follow the detailed instructions and you should be ok.
What I like about this book:
+ It's attractively laid out, with color pictures every three or so pages and colored syntax for code.
+ It dives straight in to making changes in your MC environment: making the player 'teleport' to various coordinates. Early, positive, fun feedback is great.
+ Code aspects are introduced gently and with very well crafted explanations; there are many additional numbered comments throughout that further explain the code.
+ It's good to see that the book's companion website has tabs for "Reviews" and - critically - "Updates" as you can bet there will be errata and updates as and when the MC client - server - Python API - JDK dependencies break at some point in the future (any book on programming needs to be well supported for a good few years; that's just the way things are).
+ I'm pretty picky about technical books aimed at beginners and kids and so far I've found one, esoteric and unimportant, error.
Things I'd like to have seen (or see updates for on the website):
- An appendix for teachers/parents/advanced students explaining a little more about why things are done in a certain way, in addition to the how (eg. more info about the MC server used, what it does, how does it compare to other servers etc)
- Learning resources, online discussion board, lesson plan resources etc.
- Ability to support true multiplayer in the server. The book states that the supplied Spigot server will only allow one player to play on the server but I think most kids would be dying to show off their changes to friends on the same server.
- Support for MCPE (MC Pocket Edition). I may be wrong but I don't think this is supported as you need the MC desktop version and you can only connect with one player.
- An appendix showing the Python API or at least a list of all the calls used throughout the book (eg. setBlock, setTilePos, etc).
Really, these are unfair criticisms because they're not at all required in order to do what the book says: learn to program python with MC; they'd just make it a better experience.
Age group: ~11 upwards working on their own. Maybe a motivated ~9 or 10 yr old with some help. Your mileage may vary ;)
It looks very good based on my first foray - recommended for sure!
Most recent customer reviews
You have to install Minecraft, Python, Java, and Spigot, and you have to constantly battle version updates to...Read more