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University of Kent Opens the Source Code for BlueJ and Greenfoot
Two highly popular software systems, developed by the University of Kent for the learning and teaching of programming, have been released under an open source licence.
BlueJ, first released in 1999, is the world's most popular integrated learning environment for the teaching of object-oriented programming. With over 1000 institutions worldwide using it in their teaching, and more than one million downloads per year, it has a large community of enthusiastic users.
Greenfoot is a second environment aimed at teaching programming, specifically aimed at secondary school level. Being newer than BlueJ (released in 2006), it gained popularity very quickly. In 2008, it was downloaded 220,000 times from the universities servers. Both projects are supported by Sun Microsystems.
Both systems have previously been free to use, but the source code was not available. Now the BlueJ/Greenfoot development team, working in the Computing Education research group at the Computing Laboratory at the University of Kent, have opened the source code for everyone to download, read and modify.
This step makes another significant contribution to the programming teaching and learning community. Other institutions can now download and adapt the system for their own purposes, use it as a basis for student projects, include it in open source packages (such as Linux distributions), and donate contributions back to the community.
Michael Kölling, project leader of the BlueJ and Greenfoot projects, said:
" I think this will be very well received by our users. People have asked for this many times in the past, but we had technical reasons why we were reluctant to use an open source license. These issues have now been resolved, and we are happy that the University of Kent can make another significant contribution to the programming education community around the world. "
The development team at the Computing Laboratory at Kent will continue to lead further development of both systems and provide user support, as it has done in the past.
Published 4 March 2009