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Troubleshooting and FAQ

Page history last edited by Don Slater 8 years, 2 months ago


Why an Alice Suite -- Alice 2.x and Alice 3.x?


When the development of Alice 3 was first begun, our thoughts were that Alice 3 would be a replacement for Alice 2. But that thinking has evolved as we have come to better recognize how and for what purposes people are using Alice. Like a Swiss army knife, Alice could be designed to do a lot of things, fairly well. However, a Swiss-army-knife-Alice would likely not do anything extremely well. As an analogy, MS Word could be used to generate acceptable presentations, but it would not serve this purpose as well as PowerPoint. They are different tools for different purposes.


Most important to the Alice team, however, is that our user base requires the maintenance of both. The Alice Suite of tools supports at least two (in reality, many) uses and desired outcomes for the courses in which Alice is being used. At this time we see Alice 2.x and Alice 3.x as different tools for different audiences as defined by age groups, grade levels, and course outcomes/goals.


One of the greatest sustaining forces for maintaining an Alice Suite containing both Alice 2.x and Alice 3.x is the curricular resources that are available for Alice 2 while the curricular resources for Alice 3 are still "under construction." Alice 2 has multiple text books as well as instructor support materials at aliceprogramming.net . Also, a rich repository of K-12 instructional materials for Alice 2 have been created and stored at Duke University's Adventures with Alice site, maintained by Dr. Susan Rodger.  Other repositories of Alice 2 materials are also available. We do have some crossover work being done in model building. There has been a demand for new models for Alice 2, and the models being built there are being designed so that they can be brought into Alice 3.



Of course, the problem we now have is overcoming the common perception that software version numbering implies the second will supersede the first.  Perhaps it would be helpful to remember that Algebra 2 does not replace Algebra 1.


From a research and development perspective, Alice 2.x and Alice 3.x are supported by some of the same funding streams, but the Alice Project also different funding streams for both tools. Our responsibilities to those sources of funding require maintenance of both tools. In terms of our allocation of resources, we are devoting almost all of our resources to Alice 3.x. Alice 2 is primarily in support mode. We are supplying bug fixes, and providing limited feature development and implementation, responding primarily to strong demands from our user base. For example, our rapid growth around the world has spurred our work in developing a Spanish option of Alice 2.x. Incidentally, much of the labor-intensive work in developing the Spanish version, the relabeling of the gallery has been done on a volunteer basis, by our partners in Costa Rica. Other languages will be forthcoming.


Alice 2.x will be with us for the foreseeable future. There may be a time when it is replaced by Alice 3. But realistically, when it is replaced, it will probably be by Looking Glass, a tool being developed by our collaborators at Washington University, St. Louis. (You may look at this tool by visiting http://lookingglass.wustl.edu.)


Is Alice 3.1 appropriate for younger learners?


We are still working on preference settings that allow Alice 3 to be used in an Alice 2 "mode." We are close, but we do not have it "nailed" yet, at least not to our satisfaction. I implied above that Alice 3 could be used reasonably well in an Alice 2-style course. One important consideration, however, is that Alice 3 is aggressively object-oriented, where Alice 2 is object-based, which creates some user interface differences that are bit less friendly to younger learners.  Particularly at the upper elementary and middle school levels, teacher's and students are more focused on introductory concepts than on object-oriented concepts. Because Alice 2 is object-based, it can be used with much less attention to object-oriented concepts.


Can worlds / projects created in Alice 2.x or Alice 3.0 Beta  be imported into Alice 3.1?

Alice 3.1 models are significantly restructured. This restructuring includes a consistent internal skeletal and joint structure for each super class in the gallery (Biped, Quadruped, Flyer, Swimmer, Prop).  The consistent internal structure allows for a class hierarchy needed for more faithful implementation of inheritance (an object-oriented concept) than does Alice 2. (Note that introductory students do not need this feature but more advanced student do.) 


The design of Alice 3 gallery models is joints-based (rather than subparts-based as used in Alice 2). Creating animations using components of an object now involves manipulation of the joints of an object instead of the sub-parts of an object. This may seem to be a subtle change, but it allows the use of a soft-skin for the models, creating more realistic animations when a component of a model is animated. For example, an object kicking its leg outward will no longer move outside its clothing, exposing a bare leg.  


This redesign of the gallery means that worlds created in Alice2.x, and worlds created in Alice 3.0 Beta , can not be imported into Alice 3.1. The models are fundamentally different, and there is no conversion utility currently planned that would support such a conversion.


Part of this is also aesthetic. The Alice 3 environment models are richer and more complex than Alice 2 models. 


Can a user import their own 3D models (and if not is this feature in the works)?

We are creating a pathway in which people will be able to create their own 3D models that have been created using 3D modeling software tools. (Alice is not a tool for creating 3D models.) The 3D models to be imported into Alice will be required to use internal skeletal structure and guidelines that we will provide. The internal skeletal structure will be needed, to provide for consistency within the gallery hierarchy used in Alice 3.


Are more models being created for Alice 3.1?

Yes, as fast as we can (unfortunately creating models takes time)…



Eventually users will have the ability to export projects to YouTube, will this be limited to non-interactive projects, like previous versions of Alice?

Movies and videos are by their nature non-interactive. The problem we are interested in solving is how to create executable .jar files so that students can create shareable interactive projects… An Alice project is a Java project, so there certainly is a path that leads to this, but we have not yet had the resources available to explore that path...though it is "on the list" of possible expansions.

Will Alice run on a Netbook?

On some, albeit very slowly and verging on the painful.  We have taken strides to get Alice to run on netbooks, but the unfortunate fact is that the graphics capabilities are simply not up to snuff for delivering 3D content.  With that said, as netbooks continue to improve and Alice gets more efficient, we expect performance to improve.


NOTE: The Intel Integrated chipset that is found on many notebook, netbook, and other machines has trouble trying to run Alice 3.x. Some higher-end Vista machines have also had difficulties. Decreasing hardware acceleration  or decreasing color resolution (form 32 bit to 16 bit) has sometimes been helpful. See the section on Video Requirements on the System Requirements page for video driver update information.


Will Alice run on my smartphone/tablet/portable device/gaming console?



How much does Alice cost?

Alice is free.  You can download it, install it, teach with it, use it as part of a not-for-profit venture.  Just don't download it and sell it or redistribute it without proper acknowledgement and permission of Carnegie Mellon University.  If you want to read all the juicy fine print about what you can and can't do, check it out here.


Seriously, there must be a catch.

Nope.  It's free. Well, actually, development of Alice has been funded by our many generous sponsors.






Go to Alice.org home page


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