Alice – Innovative 3D Animated Programming

On January 24, 2011, in Software, Tools, by Clive Roberts

Alice – Innovative 3D Animated Programming

Alice? Before I begin does anyone else remember that classic Smokie song – Living next door to Alice? (who the $@&* is Alice?) – Or I am just showing my age? Ah the nostalgia:

I had originally intended to conduct a review of Alice 3.0 but my research has revealed a number of excellent reviews. So rather than ‘re-invent the wheel’ I’ll link to these reviews, include some examples of what can be achieved with Alice, and feature some useful resources.

What exactly is Alice?

ALICEAlice is free and innovative 3D programming environment that is designed to introduce students to object oriented programming. Alice allows students to grasp basic programming concepts using 3D objects in a virtual world. This makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web.

Alice has an interactive drag and drop interface where instructions generated correspond to programming language statements in Java or C++. This allows students to understand the correlation between programming statements and the behaviour of their animated objects. So building a virtual world of animated 3D objects provides an excellent and engaging introductionto object oriented programming. More information and free download at:

Carnegie Mellon, developers of Alice also joined forces with Electronoc Arts (EA) who are helping to underwrite the development of Alice 3.0 and provide objects from the best selling SIMS video game. The indications are that once Alice 3.0 is ‘fully sorted’ it will become a compelling programming environment that could lead the way for teaching software programming.

Storytelling Alice

Storytelling Alice, created by Caitlin Kelleher, is designed to motivate middle school students (particularly girls) to learn computer programming by creating short 3D animated movies. It features high-level animations enabling users to program social interactions between a gallery of 3D characters and scenery including custom animations. Storytelling Alice also includes a story-based tutorial that introduces users to programming through building a story.

Research has indicated that Storytelling Alice is more effective and engaging than the generic version of Alice without the storytelling features. More information about Storytelling Alice and free download at:

* Note that Storytelling Alice is only available for the Windows environment.

Alice Reviews

Here are a couple of Alice reviews:

Getting to know Alice by Mike Diehl at Linux Journal

Sneek Peek – Alice 3.0 by Bernie Innocenti at Sugar Labs

Alice in Action

A few of my favourite examples of Alice in action:

Alice Resources

Here are some links to Alice resources:

What next?

Following this brief introduction to Alice I will take a look at Scratch – another interactive animated programming environment. I am also trying to persuade David Deeds to contribute an article about his work with OpenSIM AND Quest Atlantis – Watch this space! I may even be able to get Chris Smith out of Second Life to tell us all about it ;-)