MozCamp Berlin 2011, part 3 – Hackasaurus

One especially awesome project i learned about at MozCamp Berlin is Hackasaurus. (Big thanks to Alina for convincing me to attend the talk about it.)

The Hackasaurus mascot - a girl with a dinosaur tale wearing goggles and holding a laptop

The Hackasaurus mascot

Hackasaurus is a set of software tools and workflows to teach young people web programming. Its technical centerpiece, the “X-Ray Goggles”, is a tool that works similarly to Firebug and Google Chrome Developer tools: it helps the user examine and change, or “remix”, the inner workings of a web page – the structure of HTML elements and CSS styles. It has less features than the above tools, but it is designed to have just enough to get average people started with understanding web technologies. It is also laughably easy to install: it’s not even an add-on – you only need to add a bookmark.

According to the Hackasaurus creators Jess Klein and Atul Varma, even though the tool was intended for children, it is being used for learning about web technologies by people of all ages who were curious about web development, but found other HTML tutorials too hard.

And it works not just in Firefox, but in other browsers, too. That is one more example of how the Mozilla movement is not just about Firefox, but about Loving the web.

Hackasaurus can be easily translated to other languages using Pootle. I already translated most of it to Hebrew. Special thanks to Atul for creating the page dev.hksr.us which is frequently updated with the translations in progress – it is essential for testing the localized version. For example, i can see that the right-to-left directionality of Hackasaurus in Hebrew must still be fixed – i hope to find the time to do it myself as soon as possible.

And most importantly, i am thinking of using the tool to start teaching web development in a fun way in the schools in my area. This has been done successfully in Barcelona, New York, Brighton, Nairobi and other places and i plan to add Jerusalem and Haifa to this list soon.

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6 Responses to “MozCamp Berlin 2011, part 3 – Hackasaurus”


  1. 1 Tomer Cohen 2011-12-02 at 12:07

    Have you looked into Firefox built-in developer tools recently? It is much more intuitive than using Firebug.

  2. 2 Anonymous 2011-12-02 at 12:22

    @Tomer Hackasaurus is other thing. It is aimed to educate people on how to remix the web, build it. Is an extension to Firefox w/ a strong educational core.

    @Amir Would be great to see Hackasaurus Hack Jams in Haifa / Jerusalem / Tel Aviv!

  3. 4 mozjess 2011-12-02 at 16:01

    Amir- since your post another community member got in touch with me about helping write a Right to Left style sheet. Interested in the connection?

  4. 6 thornet 2011-12-02 at 18:04

    Yay! Great job, Amir. Looks like the RTL bug is fixed though, at least on my machine (using Firefox 10.0a2)

    Exciting about the hackjam plans for Jerusalem and Haifa. Let us know — Jess & I would love to help.


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