Merlin Programmer for Kids is a very simple program that will help young kids understand simple programming tasks. But hopefully the experience will prepare your kids for more challenging programming (and thinking) tasks.
The heart of the program is the Script window, where a sequential series of action commands are placed in the text box. Commands may be typed in, each on a single line, or they can be placed automatically by selecting and double clicking on items from the Merlin Actions window or Sounds window (see below). When the Play button is clicked, the script will be run. The Cancel button will cancel the script. The Clear button will erase everything in the Script window. Each action command will be highlighted in the Script window as the character acts out the command. A clock in the upper right of the main window will indicate the passage of time during the execution of the script program. If the hide box is checked, then all windows are hidden during the execution of the script. The file button will open the Load/Save Script window where scripts can be saved or loaded to or from a disk file. Click on a file name or type one in the top text box. Then press load or save. Load puts the script into the Script window text area. Double clicking on a file name does the same. Save writes the Script text to a file on disk. After you write a script, save it for future use. The default directory is “C:\Program Files\Merlin Programmer for Kids\scripts\ “. The default script extension is “.csp”. They are ASCII text files and can be edited with programs such as Notepad, or Wordpad, or other text editors.
The Merlin Actions window shows all the actions that the loaded character can perform. Not all characters have the same commands, so a script file that works with one character may produce errors with another character. The commands for each character can be displayed by selecting the characters name from the drop down box. General commands which affect all characters are also listed under “All”. If the Show me item is selected, then double clicking on any action command will cause the character to perform the action and speak the word. In this manner, your child can see what the character can do. If the Program item is selected, double clicking on an action command will insert that command into the Script Window. Most of the commands are standard, single word, Microsoft Agent character commands. However, some commands require special action, and are detailed below.