Tips for Making Multimedia with MicroWorlds 2.0
by Gary S. Stager
©1997 Gary S. Stager
Published in Australia by
If I could only have one piece of software in a student laptop,
classroom computer or computer lab, it would be
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
- 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.
- The three icons in the Command Center represent the
command, turtle shape and paint modes (from top to
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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
- 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
- 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.)
- 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!
- 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
- 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 http://www.lcsi.ca
- Explore the new online help and project book to find
wonderful new surprises in MicroWorlds 2.0!
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.
to playvideo :movie
set :movie "visible? "true
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
output get first pagelist "turtles
output get first pagelist "texts
to zap :list
if empty? :list [stop]
remove first :list
zap bf :list
Next issue: MicroWorlds Math that
Send your questions, comments and suggestions for future columns
readers since May 19, 1997