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Originally published Monday, October 30, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Phrogram: Making programs fun, easy

A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week: The Phrogram Company.

What: The Phrogram Company, based in Kent

What is does: Develops programming language that attempts to simplify computer development by making code read more like English.

History: Spun off from Morrison Schwartz, a computer consulting group started by Walt Morrison and Jon Schwartz.

KPL 1.0: The initial idea was to create a way to encourage kids to program. The first version of the software was called Kid's Programming Language, and was launched in July last year.

International: The program was downloaded more than 100,000 times, Schwartz said, and grew in popularity as people voluntarily translated it into 17 languages.

KPL 2.0: After achieving so many downloads, Schwartz said Phrogram wanted to broaden the idea to include anyone who wants to make a computer program. He said computer games or programming, for example, could become as common as making videos and uploading them to the Internet. The new version, launched about three weeks ago, is called Phrogram, a play on "frog" and "program."

Side-by-side: Schwartz said there's a key difference between Phrogram and a programming language like C++. He said code is traditionally written with blocks of logic between curly braces — the { and } keys. A block of logic in Phrogram says: "If something is true, then do something." Said Schwartz: "It's easier to get started if what you are looking at and what you are typing is more like English."

The outcome: Schwartz said Phrogram cuts down on the amount of code a person has to write. For instance, to control a 3-D spaceship as it flies around on the screen, it takes 35 instructions with Phrogram. In other languages, it would take 10 times as many.

Solving a crisis: Schwartz said the four-person company hopes it can begin to address the fact that fewer students are interested in computer programming in college. If the process becomes simpler, and if you make it more fun by teaching people to program games, popularity could increase. "One of our slogans is if you can read and type, then you can program," he said.

Nitty-gritty: The software can be downloaded free from, but versions are available for about $50 that allow developers to share a game or program they build without having to share the code.

— Tricia Duryee

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