NCLab 0.9.6 Released

This release brings an extraordinary amount of new functionality that reflects an equally extraordinary effort that we have put into it:

Karel Has a Debug Mode

Based on many instructors’ requests, we implemented stepping through Karel programs. In the main menu, there is a new blue arrow button for that:

You can either step through the program from the beginning using the blue button, or you can run the program by pressing the green button as usual and stop it using the yellow Pause button. You can also set breakpoints by clicking on the line number:

Breakpoints can be set either prior to or during program execution.

Karel Has Animations

To make Karel more visual, we added animations to error messages, as well as for idle moments. So, Karel blows up in a cloud of smoke when he hits a wall:

He shakes his head when you try to pick up a gem where there is none, and he will fidget when he has to wait for you for too long. Gems twinkle, trays shine. Log in, check it out!

Karel Has a New Designer

You will like this! Clicking exactly on the line between two squares in order to add a wall is history. Now, you just need to hover your mouse over the maze and the Designer will suggest the closest edge where a wall can be added. One click will put the wall in place. Adding other objects works in the same way. The proactive attitude of the Designer makes it much easier for the user to build mazes.


The same principle is used to remove objects: Once the Remove button is toggled, the Designer will suggest the object which is closest to the mouse. One click then makes the suggested object disappear.

Karel Files Show Thumbnails in File Manager

Based on the success of thumbnails for PDF files, we have also implemented thumbnails for Karel files. The function is obvious – you can see the maze without opening the file:

Learning Programming Is Like Learning Karate

Previously, Karel projects were sorted according to the textbook’s structure. This is now completely different. Every NCLab Programming Champion starts small with a White Belt, solving simple problems in manual mode.

After earning the Yellow Belt, you will solve simpler programming tasks. But they are no longer restricted to programming mode 1. The Yellow Belt level makes students practice all important programming concepts in simple situations. After earning the Purple Belt, student revisit and reinforce some concepts from the previous level, and add several advanced concepts. The same happens after they earn the Black Belt. But, solving problems on the Black Belt level already requires some serious programming skills. Earning a Black Belt means that you become an NCLab Programming Champion. There is one additional level beyond Black Belt – the Red Belt level. Solving problems there is extremely challenging and it requires more than just mastering computer programming. We dare you, Champions!

3D Molecules Module Added (Beta Version)

This long expected module was finally moved to the production server in this release. It is awesome, try it! Sketch a molecule or paste one from the database, click a button, and have the true 3D shape of the molecule computed using advanced scientific computing. For illustration, this is porphyrine (2D, sketched):

And this is porphyrine (3D, computed):

Solution Manuals Replaced with Solution Worksheets

All solution programs are now available to instructors within the Learning Materials. If you are an instructor, apply for an Instructor status. This is very simple – just send us an email from your school account, and include a link to the school staff web page where you are listed.

Python 3.3 Module Added

No explanations needed – you wanted it, we added it!

CPU Time and Used Memory Displayed in Statusbar

We are generally progressing to better control of the cloud computing resources that our users utilize. This helps us to better understand the cluster dynamics, and improve our planning of dynamic resources allocation.