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Alice 2_4 FAQ

Page history last edited by Don Slater 6 years, 2 months ago

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Alice 2.x or Alice 3.1? This map may help decide which tool in the Alice Suite is appropriate for your course


A brief overview of the development and philosophy behind the tools that are part of the Alice Suite 


Getting Started 



*sys-package-mgr*: can't create package cache dir,'./jython-2.1/cachedir/packages'java.lang.ExceptionInInitializerError

 followed by many Java errors.


Questions About Alice Features 




How do I install Alice 2.x?


Alice 2 does not require installing. 


For Windows machines:


    • Download the appropriate version (Alice2.x.zip or Alice 2.xb.zip) of Alice to your machine. 
    • Unzip the file and copy the contents the entire Alice 2.x directory which contains the “Required” folder, Alice.exe and SlowAndSteadyAlice.exe) to your computer. (Note: Windows now allows users to open a zip file like a regular folder, but Alice will not execute without unzipping.) 
    • Copy the files to another location on your computer (Desktop, Program Files, or the Documents folder).


For Apple OS X machines: 

    • Download the appropriate version (Alice2.x.dmg or Alice 2.xb.dmg) of Alice to your machine. 
    • Open the .dmg file and move the Alice package to your computer. You could start Alice from inside the .dmg file, but not all functions of Alice will execute correctly. 
    • Copy the files to another location on your computer (Desktop, Applications, or the Documents folder).  


How do I run Alice 2.x?



For Windows machines: 

    • Double click on Alice.exe or SlowAndSteadyAlice.exe to run the program. The “Required” folder must be in the same folder as the executables (Alice.exe or SlowAndSteadyAlice.exe).


For Apple OS X machines: 

    • Double click on the Alice package icon to run the program. 




How do I create a shortcut for Alice 2.x?


For Windows machines:

    • You can create a shortcut, but make sure the shortcut is setup correctly such that the program runs from the Alice 2.x folder.
    • Do not copy the Alice.exe file and run this file from another location.
    • The executables (Alice.exe or SlowAndSteadyAlice.exe) must be in the same folder as the “Required” folder.




For Apple OS X machines: 

    • You can create a shortcut, by dragging the Alice package icon to the Dock, or by <control>-clicking or right-clicking on the Alice package icon, and choosing Make Alias... from the context menu.
    • The new alias may be moved to your desktop or to other locations on your computer.



Alice will not start on my computer?


There can be many reasons why Alice will not run on your computer, and it may not be caused by the program. Here is a list of reasons and solution to the problem.


Graphic device without a proper drivers. 

    •  If your computer uses a generic video driver, we suggest that you obtain the correct video driver from the manufacturer.
    • Generic video drivers are known to cause Alice to not start up.
    • One such problem is caused by video cards from NVIDIA.


Insufficient permission (No read and write permission)

    • Alice creates a .alice2 folder in the user directory to store all necessary files and folders (i.e. Alice preferences file)
    • Alice may not run if such location cannot be created or written to.
    • Alice also requires a read permission to the “Required” folder and all its contents.
    • If network administrator prefer that all information be stored at an alternative location, you can modify the ..\Alice 2.3\Required\etc\config.txt file to include the path.
    • In the config.txt file, you should see something that looks like this:




    • Add a new line at the bottom
    • Enter in the *full* path to where you would like the preferences stored. This will need to be a writable directory.
    • Do not use quotes. For example, to change the location to the desktop on drive E, do the following:



    E:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Desktop\


Running a 32bit application from a 64bit computer.

    • Some users were able to solve the problem by placing the Alice 2.x folder in their C:\Program Files (x86)
    • Another method is by changing the properties of the Alice executable (Alice.exe or SlowAndSteadyAlice.exe), to run in compatibility mode for Windows XP





Why am I getting the ClassCastException?


    • This is a known Java issue and there is currently no solution to this problem. This is more of a warning than an error. This will not cause a problem when running Alice 2.x. This problem should be ignored. 




Alice a2w file cannot be opened. How to fix it?


    • We will use the default.a2w file found in your Alice 2.x\Required\etc folder to show you how to fix the problem. 



    • This is what you will see when Alice fails to load the world. Notice in this example, Alice is not able to find the light/elementData.xml



    • You will need to open the file using any zip program (7-Zip, WinZip, etc.). In the file, you will see some folders, files, and the elementData.xml in the main directory.  



    • Open the elementData.xml file with any text editor (Notepad, WordPad, etc.). Here, you will see <child filename=”…/> showing you all the items in your Alice world.   



    • Since we are missing the light/elementData.xml, the best way to fix this problem is to remove all references to the item (i.e. <child filename=”light”/>) from this file (since we do not know what the elementData.xml in the light folder looks like and cannot replace the missing file).


Note: You may need to extract the elementData.xml file from the a2w file before you can make changes to the file. Once you have made the changes, you can move the file back into your a2w file.


    • When you open the a2w file, you will get the following warning.  



    • Alice is letting you know that you are missing the light object and all references to this object should be set to None. Click on the Yes button. You can now add all the missing items, correct the code accordingly and continue with your programming.  


Note: If you are still getting the error, repeat the steps above until all references to the missing items has been removed from the elementData.xml file. In this example, there are only two references to the light object. 



When I run Alice, I get this error:


*sys-package-mgr*: can't create package cache dir,'./jython-2.1/cachedir/packages'java.lang.ExceptionInInitializerError


followed by many Java errors.


  • Make sure the user running Alice has write permission to each file and directory unpacked from the distribution gzip file.  In particular, the user will need write permission to the "Required/jython-2.1" directory.  If things are running properly, Alice should automatically create a "cachedir" directory there the first time it runs.


I cannot locate the HeBuilder/SheBuilder that was in the People Gallery.


A preference was added to the latest version of Alice, allowing users to enable / disable the HeBuilder / SheBuilder app in Alice 2, to address the modesty concerns of some of our users.


You will find in this preference setting in the Edit menu, Preferences (F8) under the Seldom Used tab an option to “show he/she builder in the gallery”. Click on this preference and you will be able to enable or disable this app.


See the following image.



How do I print in Alice 2.x? 


From the File menu in Alce 2.x, choose the Export Code for Printing command. Note: This example is printing the code to the Alice example world, LakeSkater (found in the Examples section of Alice 2.x)




A dialog box, Export To HTML will appear. On the left will be check boxes allowing you to choose which elements of your program you would like to print. Be sure to complete the "Author's name" field. Click export code. 



This will generate an .html document that will be saved in the location specified in your Alice Preferences (Edit menu) save and load from:option. (In this example, the document will be saved to my Desktop).




Exporting an Alice Project to a Web Browser?




    • First you must have the Java runtime installed and enabled on your browser.
    • Check that you have Java enabled in your browser.
    • If Java is enabled, check that you have the Java runtime installed.
    • If you don't have it, you can install the runtime from 




Instructions for Unzipping the Java 3D 1.5.2 Release  




How do I enable Java in my web browser?   




This article applies to: 


 Platform(s): Windows 7, Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 2003, Macintosh OS X  




Even after installing Java, applets do not run. 




Java is not enabled in the web browser. If Java is already installed but applets do not work, you may need to enable Java through your web browser. 




Please follow these instructions to enable Java though your Web browser: 


Browsers for Windows 


Internet Explorer  

        • Click Tools and then Internet Options
        • Select the Security tab, and select the Custom Level button
        • Scroll down to Scripting of Java applets
        • Make sure the Enable radio button is checked
        • Click OK to save your preference 




        • Click on the wrench icon, then select Options.
        • Select Under the Hood and then Privacy Content Settings. The Content Settings panel will appear.

          • In the Plug-ins section, select the Disable individual plug-ins link to check whether Java is enabled
          • Click on the Enable link (if the Disable link appears, Java is already enabled)


 Note: Alternatively, you can access the Plug-ins settings by typing about:plugins in the browser address. 


Browsers for Windows and Mac OS X 



        • Start Mozilla Firefox browser or restart it if it is already running
        • At the top of the browser, select the Firefox button (or Tools menu in Windows XP), then Add-ons. The Add-ons Manager tab will open.

          • In the Add-ons Manager tab, select Plugins
          • Click Java (TM) Platform plugin to select it
          • Click on the Enable button (if the button says Disable, Java is already enabled)  



        • Launch Safari browser
        • Click on Safari and select Preferences
        • Click on the Security tab
        • Check (select) Enable Java check box
        • Close Safari Preferences window 


Opera 4.x and up

        • Opera for Windows does not use Java, but an embedded version already inside the Opera Web browser.
        • Opera for other platforms may supports Java . Please consult your Opera platform documentation.
        • For further information, please review the following Opera Support article:  


Support for Java software in Opera  


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. As will Alice 3.x.



How do I view the Alice 2.x tutorial? 


To view the Alice tutorial

    • Launch Alice and click on the "Start the Tutorial" button in the Welcome to Alice dialogue box.
    • You can also jump to a specific tutorial by clicking on one of the tutorial worlds below the "Start the Tutorial" button.
    • There is a known bug in the fourth tutorial, on page 19, when asked to add the beach chair to the scene. Click on the Next button to get past this bug.


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


See the following link for information on building and importing 3D models into Alice 2.x 





Can I export to video the animations I create in Alice?


  • There is a file menu option for exporting an Alice world to video.
  • This option works well on Windows machines if there are no sound clips in the animation. 

  • This option does not seem to be working at all on Mac OS X machines. 


Unfortunately we are still having problems with worlds that use recorded sounds, including the fact that our exporter does not recognize that an animation may be over, because the background music may still be playing. For example, if I have a 45 second animation, but I am using as background music a 3 minute and 15 second sound clip, then our exporter will want to record all 3 minutes and 15 seconds. 


But as the recorder is trying to use the same system  media manager that is responsible for playing the recordings, other problems present themselves as well.


We are working on resolving these problems at the present time. 


Possible solutions:



    • Clip the sound file in an audio editor, such as Audacity, so that it does not play any longer than the animation. In the example above, the sound clip should be trimmed to 45 seconds to correspond to the 45 second length of the animation.
    • Use screen capture software, such as built into the operating systems of OS X using QuickTime for Mac, or Windows 10, or different apps that can be located on the web, to capture the playback of the Alice animation on your computer screen.


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.
  • We have an option to export Alice projects to a web browser. See this FAQ for more information.



Will Alice 2.x run on Windows 10?


We have installed and are running Alice 2.x on a new Windows 10 machine (a Dell "All in One" with wireless mouse and keyboard. Also, it has a touch screen). It is "alive and well" and working just fine in Windows 10. We have also seen installations of Alice 2 on the Windows Surface Pro working without any degradation in performance.

To install, we followed (and recommend) these steps:


    • Download the zipped file (Alice2.x.zip or Alice2.xb.zip) to the desktop.
    •   Unzip on the desktop.
    •  Move the unzipped folder (containing all of the Alice files) to the Program Files (X86) folder on the C:\ drive.
    •  Create a shortcut on the desktop for Alice.exe.
    •  Click the shortcut to start Alice. 


By way of explanation: Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 all have a strong malware protection scheme that resists installing non-standard software directly on the hard drive. The best way we have found to work within this protection scheme is to unzip the Alice download on the desktop and then move it to the hard drive. 



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.  


Alice is not designed to work on any mobile devices at this time. 


However, we understand that it is possible to install linux on a Chromebook (see the following link:) 




If you want to go down this path, there are linux versions of both Alice 2 and Alice 3, but this is an implementation we have not yet tested.


We also have reports that Alice runs successfully on the Microsoft Surface Pro, but not on the Surface RT. We have not tested this ourselves, however.


See the following link of System Requirements for Alice: 




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/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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