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Online Python Tutor: Web-Based Program Visualization for CS Education

As part of his CS education work at Google, +Philip Guo has been developing an open-source educational tool called Online Python Tutor (http://www.pythontutor.com). This tool enables teachers and students to write Python programs directly in the web browser and then single-step forwards and backwards to visualize what the computer is doing as it executes those programs.

Program visualization for CS education is nothing new -- researchers have been developing these sorts of tools for decades. However, most of these tools never reach far beyond the confines of the researchers’ home universities due to the difficulty of installing and configuring the visualization software. What makes Online Python Tutor unique and effective is that it’s the first known tool to adapt time-tested ideas from the research literature (e.g., rendering of box-and-pointer diagrams) for a web-based environment. Now anyone with a modern browser can create, explore, and share their program visualizations by simply visiting a web URL.

This ease of access has been a major contributor to adoption: So far, over 100,000 people have used Online Python Tutor to understand and debug their programs, often as a supplement to learning from textbooks, lecture notes, and online programming tutorials. In addition, instructors in over a dozen universities such as MIT, UC Berkeley, and the University of Washington have used it for teaching introductory computer science courses.

But this is just the beginning. Philip and his colleagues are now building an online authoring environment so that, within the next few months, teachers and students will be able to save their code snippets and add annotations, discussion threads, lessons, and interactive exercises on top of the associated visualizations.

They are also actively seeking partnerships with educators at all grade levels to deploy and improve Online Python Tutor. Please contact Philip directly or re-share this post with educators who might be interested in working with this tool in any capacity.

Visit www.pythontutor.com to learn more and to start visualizing your Python programs now!
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96 comments
 
+David Moran III - good question: this isn't a how-to guide on its own; rather, it's a tool that teachers and students can use in addition to how-to guides and other tutorials for learning programming.
 
Programming language > Scripting languages. But I suppose both are useful for their own reasons. :|

I prefer Lua..... although.
 
hey dude add my account please :) im newbie in gmail :D
 
+James Johnston did you mean ... interpreted vs. compiled, perhaps? Although even that distinction is blurry. By what criteria could one be categorically superior to the other?
 
Really they are crazy i think they stuck inside
 
add me im so bored and want to chat with someone :)) Xx
 
asher add me please agunggorilla04@gmail.com:) thanks before :)
 
Philip guo - is there any good books or Web pages to educate a noob like me?
 
The chosen few who is reading this has just been blessed. My second post job of my life . Im lovin it .k to the g. Northern cali hottie
 
i want to study good level java and c++.......anyone can help.if u r able then contact on my email:-love.gamot@gmail.com
 
what do you mean level java ? :o im from java may i can help you :)
 
i want to learn good progrmming in java at a high level... so i can make good codes...if u can help me then sure plz
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naa i like music and cloothes so inabeezy ;P x
 
I want to know more about this Add me
 
Impressive...must developed for other languages also...need the source code great idea for a android app..?
Edel SM
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bookmarked! love it!
 
It would be nice in a language that everybody can understand such as java or C#, but this Python is just incomprehensible. The tool does not change that.
 
Python is actually very comprehensible, and the method could be used in any other language. The method from that site helps a lot on the comprehension of how python works and flows.
 
python is look like procedure language, and i do no where and which place can i use it
 
I try to learn python but I face some difficuties in the creation of GUI
 
Excellent. I just started learnin python so this is a massive help. 
 
Just to add on for those who wish to begin learning programming, MIT's OpenCourseWare Introduction to Programming is conducted in Phyton. I assume this tool would be invaluable in conjunction.
 
Wow, I love it! And I need it!
 
I know some friends that could benefit from this.
 
Really awesome has a sophomore CS student I will make use of this
 
Cool I need to learn python for some new jobs I am applying for
 
I thought this was about Monty Python.........duh !
 
philip guo is pile of shit so is his work
 
Good-bye.
See you again tomorrow .
I spread out a gmail iPad.
This baby(I)can't already speak English.
 
philip guo is shit, so is his work
 
I loved learning Python. It is an easy to use language and there's no doubt, every coding enthusiast would profit from this
 
Education is the 1st step to freedom & prosperity. This will be one way to educate thousands, like khan academy, free to all you just have to connect to the www.
Jay Dee
 
Darn I read online Putin tutor and was amazed that Putin (russian president not the french fries with cheese and gravy) needs a tutor ..more coffee please ...yawning
 
Fantastic press for a powerful tool. The way it visualizes complex concepts is just amazing.
 
yes, bookmarked & +1d
thanks for pointing
 
Wonderful, I am teaching my daughter Python and something like this will help greatly.
 
indeed very nice. I wonder if it is mainly good for teaching programming basics or also to illustrate more complex algorithms of advanced cs courses
 
am starting learning python, it looks good for coding.
 
I found this time line happily. I also have tried to use this site. This online education is most intuitive as much as we use iPython for interactive scientific programming.
 
ほとんど、読めません。時間と忍耐力が必要そうね。 what is this ? Is Japanese.

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