Learning To Program In C++ Using Web Cartoon Maker

April 18, 2018

My last two posts published in reputable programming related magazines were devoted to learning the basics of computer programming using the Celestia Astronomy / Outer Space simulator program. Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that future versions of that program will contain several changes that will severely limit its use as a learning environment, at least as far as learning computer programming is concerned. Although I am still an enthusiastic supporter of Celestia, and I certainly will be adding tutorials dedicated to it, I will now suggest using a relatively new learning tool known as Web Cartoon Maker.

Although on first glance Web Cartoon Maker might seem almost trivial (we aren’t talking about Disney or Industrial Light and Magic -quality graphics here), don’t write it off too quickly. Web Cartoon Maker is (1) a visual learning environment that (2) teaches the fundamentals of the C++ programming language while (3) being entertaining at the same time.

Why should I, and / or my children, learn C++ and not some other programming language such as Java, Python, or Smalltalk?

While there are a number of very good programming languages currently in use, C++ is probably the most commonly-used language when it comes to creating “stand alone” applications (computer programs that do not rely on a web browser such as Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer). C++ is also one of the fastest languages available, meaning that once a C++ program is compiled and debugged it will execute its functionality almost instantly and without noticeable delay or “lag.” C++ is also the most widely-used language used in the creation of computer games and virtual reality worlds.

Learning To Program In C++ Using Web Cartoon Maker

What Is Web Cartoon Maker?

Web Cartoon Maker is a tool that helps the user learn the C++ programming language. It accomplishes this by making use of a subset (“dialect”) of the standard C++ language library known as ” UnderC .” UnderC was designed to facilitate learning C++ by allowing the learner to see the result of his / her program code immediately rather than having to go through a separate “compile” step after each change to the source code.

Although you will write your UnderC / C++ source code on your computer (using either a downloaded Desktop Edition of the software or utilizing the Online Edition hosted on the Cartoon Maker web server), the code itself will be compiled on a dedicated server managed by Web Cartoon Maker.com and the compiled “machine code” will be returned to you after this step is completed.

How Do I Use Web Cartoon Maker?

If you know how to use a personal computer, either edition of Web Cartoon Maker is simple to use.

As just mentioned, Web Cartoon Maker comes in two related, but different, editions: Desktop and Web.

The Web Cartoon Maker Desktop Edition is a self-installing Microsoft Windows executable (.exe) file, meaning that the program automatically installs itself in the proper location of your hard drive (on my Windows XP and Vista machines, it was installed in “C:\Program Files\Web Cartoon Maker\…”). If you elect to use this version, be aware that Windows will present you with a few “warnings” about “.exe” files and the dangers associated with such files. In this case, you can safely ignore such warnings.

To get the Desktop Edition of Web Cartoon Maker, all you need do is:

  1. Go to the Web Cartoon Maker download page and click on the Download link. Alternatively, click the “Download Desktop Edition” link at the top of the Web Cartoon Maker home page .
  2. Download the “.exe” file, then double click on it to start the installation process.
  3. Click “OK” whenever the installer asks you a question. Be sure to create a desktop icon / shortcut.
  4. Once Web cartoon Maker is installed, just click on the desktop icon and you’re ready to create your first cartoon.

As an alternative to downloading the Desktop Edition, you can elect to use the Web Edition of Web Cartoon Maker. To use the Web Edition, just:

  1. Go to the Web Cartoon Maker home page .
  2. Click on the “Make Cartoons Online” link
  3. Use the online editor to create your cartoon.

Note that, in order to view your cartoons, you will need a copy of the Web Cartoon Maker Player plugin installed on your computer (if you are using the Desktop Version, the player is installed as part of the downloaded installation package). A link to the download file for this plug-in can be found on the Web Cartoon Maker downloads page . You should also be aware that, at least in its current version, you will not be able to save the source code for your cartoons if you are using the Web Edition. It is unclear whether or not this will change in future releases.

To help you write your first cartoon using either the Desktop or Online Edition, there is a freely available textbook / programming guide, Web Cartoon Maker: A Fun Way to Learn C++ , which is one of the most user-friendly documents that you could hope to find under the category “free learning resources.” I suggest downloading the PDF edition of this book so you and / or your children can refer to it while using either edition of Web Cartoon Maker.

That’s all for this introductory tutorial. Next up will be a step-by-step guide to creating a simple cartoon using the Desktop Edition of Web Cartoon Maker.

Additional Online Resources

In addition to the Web Cartoon Maker web site and the Web Cartoon Maker: A Fun Way to Learn C++ book, you can learn more about the UnderC dialect of C++ at the UnderC home page or the UnderC FAQ . You can also find information about the different characters that are available to you, other background scenery, and even a few tutorials, on Web Cartoons maker’s Help Page . There is also a book, C++ By Example (Que, 2002 but available at scribd.com ), that can be a valuable asset when it comes to understanding the subtle differences between UnderC and C++.