Tips for Making Multimedia with MicroWorlds 2.0
by Gary S. Stager
Pepperdine University
©1997 Gary S. Stager

Published in Australia by Computelec Australia

If I could only have one piece of software in a student laptop, classroom computer or computer lab, it would be MicroWorlds. MicroWorlds affords teachers with the opportunity to meet the needs of the curriculum while respecting a student's right to a powerful open-ended software environment in which they can pursue personal interests while constructing their own knowledge. MicroWorlds 2.0 is now available for the Windows 95 operating system. It has all of the multimedia features (digitized sound, CD audio, video, transitions and enhanced graphic tools) as its Macintosh predecessor with a good deal extra processing power. You can even publish simple projects on the World Wide Web.

While MicroWorlds 2.0 may certainly be used to create the book reports and simple multimedia presentations so commonplace in other hypermedia authoring packages, MicroWorlds is a rich computational medium based on thirty years of Logo research. MicroWorlds 2.0 provides students with an unparalleled intellectual laboratory and vehicle for self expression. Five year-olds and their teachers can each explore sophisticated learning adventures with the same tool. I've included a number of tips and hints for getting started with the multimedia features of the new MicroWorlds in this column.

Tips for understanding and using the multimedia features of MicroWorlds 2.0

  1. The graphical user interface has been improved dramatically. The top eight buttons on the tool bar are for creating MicroWorlds objects and the bottom six are for editing existing objects.
  2. The three icons in the Command Center represent the command, turtle shape and paint modes (from top to bottom).
  3. Turtle costumes (shapes) may now be any size at all. Double-click on a shape in the Shapes Center and use the + and - buttons to change the drawing area for a particular costume. Drag the frame in the preview window (top right) to move about in the editing window.
  4. The most powerful new tool is the Eye Tool. It will edit any object it is clicked on. You no longer need to use a specific tool to edit each type of object. The Eye Tool will also show invisible objects and hidden turtles while it is depressed.
  5. Each of the objects created with the the top eight tools on the tool bar, with the exception of the text box and hatching turtle tools, can be executed merely by typing the name you gave them in the command center, procedure turtle/button instruction. For example, to play a video clip, melody, recorded sound or CD-audio clip named, weasel, type weasel. The object name behaves just like it was a defined procedure.
  6. Typing the name of a text box reports its contents so be sure to precede the name with a command to "catch" the output from the text box.
  7. Typing the name of a turtle, followed by a comma, as in Weasel, fd 50 tells the turtle named Weasel to go forward 50 turtle steps.
  8. Check out the transitions in the Pages menu, but don't over-use them. MicroWorlds 2.0 allows you to set the screen transition for each page. The transition will appear when you go to that page.
  9. If you don't like the standard button shape MicroWorlds offers, make your own! Any graphic imported into MicroWorlds and copied into the clipboard may be pasted into the Shapes Center as a turtle shape. Just put that new costume on a turtle and give the turtle the instruction(s) you want it to run when it is clicked on. Voila! A button you can be proud of!
  10. Melodies, recorded sounds, and CD-clip icons do not need to show unless you want them to behave like ugly buttons. Click the Eye Tool on them, set them to Invisible and they will still function whenever they are called upon to act. You may edit invisible objects by clicking on the Eye Tool. Every object on a page becomes temporarily visible.
  11. You no longer need to use SNAPTEXT and UNSNAPTEXT to make a text box transparent. In version 2.0 you just click the Eye Tool on the text box and click on the Transparent button.
  12. The Announce and Question commands now allow you to specify their screen position and size. This lets you move the Question and Answer dialog boxes to convenient screen locations. Just check how to use the SET primitive in the online Help! (Set lets you control all sorts of other things under program control too.)
  13. The File-Import menu item allows you to import text, sounds, graphics, video and parts of MicroWorlds projects from other files. Try importing a stunning background picture or video clip you have saved on your hard drive!
  14. Since most web sites publish digital video in QuickTime format, you may need to convert these files to AVI if you are using Windows 95. You may download a conversion tool from
    or search for another. Mac users may download my instructions on how to edit QuickTime video for free from
  15. In the Win 95 MicroWorlds 2.0 you can explore the SAVEHTML command to learn how you can create simple web pages from your projects. Mac users need to download the HTML tools from
  16. Explore the new online help and project book to find wonderful new surprises in MicroWorlds 2.0!

New Tools

Here are a few handy procedures you can add to your Logo toolbox. Playvideo takes the name of a QuickTime (Mac)/AVI (Win 95) movie as input, shows the movie, plays it and then makes it disappear. This creates the dramatic effect of a movie appearing and playing automatically.

Playvideo "moviename

to playvideo :movie
set :movie "visible? "true
run :movie
set :movie "visible? "false

Turtles and texts are procedures that report the names of every turtle or text box on the current page. You can type SHOW TURTLES to see a list of the turtles on that page, ASK BF TURTLES [fd 50] to have all but the first turtle in the list go forward, or use ZAP TURTLES to get rid of every turtle on the current page.

to turtles
output get first pagelist "turtles

to texts
output get first pagelist "texts

to zap :list
if empty? :list [stop]
remove first :list
zap bf :list

Next issue: MicroWorlds Math that Matters

Send your questions, comments and suggestions for future columns to:

readers since May 19, 1997