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Thimble helps you “make” with HTML

June 26, 2013

You don’t need to be able to fix a carburetor in order to drive a car, but it’s useful to be able to fix a flat and top off fluids. With great web building tools like WordPress you don’t need to know the intricacies of Javascript and CSS. However, basic knowledge of HTML can be useful for an educator. It helps you embed multimedia content into a page in Sakai or Blackboard, for example.

Mozilla Thimble is a tool that can help educators who are in the process of learning HTML. It’s not a tutorial; see the list at the end of this article if you want a tutorial. Instead, Thimble is a coding environment that provides instant feedback. Enter your code in Thimble’s text editor on the left side of the screen and you see the results in real time on the right side. When you make a mistake you know exactly when and where you went wrong. Thimble is an effort of Mozilla Webmaker, the same people who brought us Popcorn Maker, which we wrote about earlier this year.

thimbleScreen

The Thimble interface

You begin using Thimble by (1) starting a new page from scratch, (2) using one of their Starter Projects, or (3) copy-pasting code from elsewhere. When you’re done, if you have a Mozilla Persona you can publish your finished web pages right from Thimble. I started from scratch with the page at right. Feel free to take a closer look.

Thimble is friendly and easy to use – great for people who are learning how to make web pages. I also found that it worked pretty well on an iPad. So what’s the downside? There’s little documentation –  all I could find was a Thimble FAQ. In terms of functionality, it responds to HTML and CSS, but not Javascript. Also, any images you want to incorporate must already be online.

HTML tutorials you could use with Thimble

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