One of the most impressive upsurge in the TIOBE ranking in 2017: Alice language

One of the most impressive upsurge in the TIOBE ranking in 2017: Alice language

Alice is a language for functional programming that was developed over 17 years ago at the University of Saarland, Germany. It’s a dialect of Standart ML but there are a number of new possibilities for working with multithreading and programming in constraints. The last stable version was released in 2007.
How did it happen that a language was not updated for 10 years suddenly got such popularity? The answer lies on the surface. Wrong bees write about the wrong honey.

Alice is described as a ML prefix (the fact is ignored by Wikipedia authors in both Russian and English versions) and the hero or heroine of today’s text can only be found with the prefix “PO”. An representative of the kind of educational languages. Alice from the University of Carnegie Mellon, USA. Officially she is already 19 years old and as befits a real girl. She only recently began to attract the attention of a huge number of geeks.


In 1994 a Professor named Randy Pausch reflected on the creation of a fundamentally new programming language for teaching children and first-year students. On the one hand, it should be graphic on the other hand support the OOP and have the capabilities of “adult” languages. Recall that in those days there was still no Scratch. MIT still pumped the Logo a limited and specific language.

The development began at the University of Virginia and migrated with Pausch to Carnegie Mellon until finally in 1998 saw the light. Like many children, Alice (the name is taken from the books of Lewis Carroll) was born not a very beautiful child. Although the language was based on Python but the resulting amount of code returned to the times of C. The convenience of working with the IDE interface left much to be desired: the design and the location of the control elements were unsuccessful. But now even a child could work with 3D-models, manage the camera, objects and events.

In education, the results were brilliant:
average score on programming in the target group of students increased from C to B (from 3 to 4); amount of mastered information increased from 47 to 88%.
The main problem was that not all computers at that time could support 3D modeling and even with high-level programming of events. As a result young Alice was interested in several large universities, game development studios, animators but never went to the people.
Alice 2.0 has received a number of important improvements:

  • performance has improved. The ability to export the result to QuickTime reduced development time, the language core was optimized.
  • a new format for learning. Now you could not just manage the objects and the camera, the training was done through the creation of a cartoon story.
  • library. The first version was limited in characters and places of action, in the second programmers presented a space for imagination.


In 2006 the Electronic Arts took up the development of Alice 3.0 for integration into the legendary series of games The Sims. The beta version was released in 2009 (like Sims 3) the license was still open so anyone was now able to create familiar animation without even purchasing a game.

At the age of 16 Alice made an attempt to reach a wide audience. It was integrated into the Netbeans IDE, received Java support which radically changed the image to a more modern and elegant one. The developers localized the product and translated it into Russian as well.
Today Alice officially cooperates with Disney, Google, Oracle, Pixar, Microsoft, EA and several very well-known companies.


All the sources can be downloaded from the official website. Choose the version, install the add-on on Netbeans IDE and start creating your first cartoon. – here you will find 17 lessons where you will learn to create animation stories and even 3D-shooters.

Udemy is not a free introductory course. It’s where you will be introduced to the language, environment, and show basic actions
Support – as always, the most comprehensive information is on the official website. Here your find the FAQ with a list of useful resources and even the possibility of directly asking the question to a licensed instructor.

Perspectives of relations

The world is now experiencing a programming boom, educational languages, combined with the visual environment are the locomotives of this trend. Alice is no exception here, From January to December the popularity of queries in search engines increased 6-fold. Most likely this trend will continue and perhaps our children will pass it in schools.

However, at the labor exchange his knowledge will not be a plus: for most employers this is as useless a skill as Borland Pascal. But unlike the latter, you will get a lot of fun from work.

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