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Department of Information Science and Telecommunications


INFSCI 0012 - Introduction to Programming

(Spring 2002, CRN 43348)

[ Formal Data | Course Tools | Syllabus & Schedule | Course Books | Course Materials | CourseWeb | KnowledgeTree | Links ]

Course Tools

Teaching Tools


The key tool for the course is the Pitt CourseWeb powered by Blackboard 5 Course Management System, a product of Blackboard, Inc. A set of course materials and tools is available on the CourseWeb course site. You need to have Pitt University Computer Account to login to CourseInfo site. Use Account Managament Page to check the status of your account. We will use CourseWeb for all communication during this course, to take quizzes and to submit solutions for the assignments.


KnowledgeTree is a system that provides a dynamic access to the course material. From the surface point of view it looks quite like the static "Course Materials" page. However, it is not static. It can watch what you are doing and adapt to your level of knowledge. The link to KnowledgeTree is right on the navigation bar of every course page. You have to login to start working with KnowledgeTree. To do that you have to register and choose a login name and a password when you use the system for the first time. Do not use your CIS login/password. We suggest to make a user name from the first letter of your first name and your family name. So, Steve Jones will be sjones or SJones. Please, do not forget your password!

For you KnowledgeTree is a way to access several course activities associated with lectures: lecture slides, examples, quizzes and dissections. Dissections provide you with an interface to explore comments that a teacher has attached to the lines of the program examples. It is the second chance for you to understand the example if you missed the class or can't grasp the example during class presentation. Quizzes are provided for self-assessment. They check your understanding of basic constructs of the language. A failure to predict the target value is good indication that further reading or work is required. Each quiz can be taken many times (each time you will see different numbers in the same questions. However, only first attempt is recorded.


KnowledgeSea is a tool that helps you locate relevant parts for reading in various Web-based textbooks on C language. There is a good number of C resources on the Web (see External links in CourseWeb), but it is not easy to locate just a few pages that you need to read for a particular lecture. KnowledgeSea allocates lectures and reading pages on a 2-dimensional map where similar pages are located together. You just need to "look around" the location of a particular lecture one the map for most relevant pages. Please, consult the instruction on using KnowledgeSea for more information. You can access KnowledgeSea from the Lecture 0 in KnowledgeTree system.

Karel Development Tools

To complete the first parth of the course you will need to write, run, and debug programs for Karel the Robot. There are many many environments developed to support programming Karel the Robot for nearly every platform (including PalmPilot). For our course we will be using the Karel Environment developed by Professor Duane Buck at Otterbein College.

You have two options to run Karel environment.

The environment has an embedded tutorial that explains the work with the Karel programming environment and the programming language to control Robot Karel. Note that the environment and the tutorial supports two version of the language. One that is marked as Karel corresponds to your course book and should be used for first assignments. Another version marked as Jarel has different syntax that is similar to C and Java programming languages. We will use this version later in the course. Altenatively, you can use an online version of the tutorial.

A useful Karel programming summary is provided by Professor Rapaport from SUNY Buffalo.

C Development Tools

To complete the second part of the course you will need to write and debug C programs. To do that you need either

A Free Simple IDE

We strongly recommend you using LCC-Win32 is a relatively simple IDE with a nice C-oriented editor and a possibility to trace program execution. This IDE is easy to learn and use. Also, it is free - so you can install it on your home computer. This is the IDE that the instructor will use through the course to demonstrate multiple examples. LCC-Win32 also includes as a part Princeton's line-based C compiler lcc. The installation of LCC-Win32 is simple. Just run the downloaded lccwin32.exe file and the instalation program will do the job. Do not forget to add c:\lcc\bin to your system's path if you plan to use line-based compiler lcc.exe in addition to IDE (it is not necessary).

Other IDEs for PC

There are a number of professional IDEs that you could use to design and debug C programs. If you have some programming experience, you are welcome to use one of the professional IDE that are installed on all computers in Pitt Computer Labs: Microsoft Visual C++ (A part of the Visual Studio) or Borland C++. You can get Microsoft Visual C++ IDE as a part of the campus software package. These environments are harder to use and learn than LCC-Win32, but if programming is among your possible future careers you may invest several hours in learning one of these tools now. Students taken this course previously have found Borland C++ more friendly and intuitive than Visual C++. When using any professional IDE, make sure that you use only ANSI C features - none of C++. Your assignment will be compiled with plain C compiler. C++ constructs will be simply considered as syntax errors.

An IDE for Macintosh

In the past the instructor used visualization system Leonardo to demonstrate execution of example programs in the classroom. It is a public domain software for Macintosh. Leonardo also doubles as a complete IDE for C. So, if you have Macintosh, you could download Leonardo and use it for all your courseworks. It is very easy to install and use and covers all your course needs.

Using an editor and a compiler

An editor-compiler pair is a simple substitution for IDE. It is easier to use than any IDE, but this option provides little debugging support. We do not recommend this option unless you have special reason to use it. Here are some free software options for this way.

C Compliler

Using a traditional line-based C-compiler is very easy and matches the explanations in the course books. We recommend you to use line-based C compiler lcc that is a part of LCC-Win32. If you use an older DOS-based computer, you could use the old Turbo-C compiler that is very small and covers all your needs.

Program Editor

You can use any text editor that you are familiar with. Notepad and Wordpad that belong to Windows accesoiries would work (if you are using WordPad, make sure that your programs are saved as textfile with suffix .c). If you want a little bit more comfort and functionality, use one of the following free editors that are specially designed for editing programs.

Visualization Tools

Visualization tools will let you to look inside the working program. Unfortunately, there is not relevant visualization environment for C on Windows platform. You could, however, use the following two options.


Jeliot is a great visualization system for beginner-level programs . Jeliot works with Java, but for the language subset that we use for our course, there is a very simple mapping from C to Java.

Copyright © 2001, 2002 Peter Brusilovsky