Mozilla has just launched Thimble, a tidy new way to create simple websites from within a browser window.
Thimble is visual enough for coding newbies, but it also lets you play around under the hood with HTML and CSS — a great way to learn how to code in a hands-on environment. You can start making a site from scratch, or you can choose to tinker around with a pre-existing template.
Once you’re done creating your site, you can publish it with a single click, then continue to edit and tweak as needed. You can also choose to preview your work prior to publishing it. Thimble also offers basic debugging, which Mozilla refers to as a sort of spell-checker for code.
The template projects are great for getting your feet wet and learning as you go; they can help absolute novices acquire comfort and familiarity in the basics of code-writing for the web. A few of these projects come from Mozilla’s Web Arcade, an 80s game-themed series that teaches webmaking basics.
Overall, Thimble is simple enough for even elementary-school kids to use, and it won’t confound more stuck-in-their-ways users, either. It’s the perfect intro to coding for beginners, and it fits right into the proven Codecademy paradigm of in-browser code instruction.
Here’s what it looks like in action:
Thimble, writes Mozilla communications czar Matt Thompson on the company blog, is “at the heart of Mozilla Webmaker’s mission to move people from using the web to making the web — and to create a more web-literate planet.”
As part of the launch, Mozilla is putting a fresh gust of wind under the wings of Webmaker.org, its project for technological literacy amongst the normals of the world. The project is all about understanding and control, about revealing the “man behind the curtain” and showing regular Internet users that there’s nothing magical or mysterious about how websites work and that learning to code is within their grasp.
“The web is becoming the world’s second language, and a vital 21st century skill,” reads the new Webmaker site.
“Digital literacy today is as important as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Mozilla believes it’s crucial that we give people the skills they need to understand, shape, and actively participate in that world, instead of just passively consuming it.”
Image courtesy of Yuri Acurs, Shutterstock