Sunsetting PyInSky

Heroku announced some time ago that they’re ending the free plan that PyInSky runs on.

Considering that PyInSky gets very little use, it doesn’t seem to justify upgrading to a paid plan.
Even if it did have constant everyday use, the system really doesn’t make much sense because
it was designed and built with children as a target audience… but the audience ended up being
mostly (entirely?) adults.

What will happen after Heroku actually shutsdown their free servers still hasn’t been decided.
There are new things in the pipeline and alternatives to look into.

Regardless of what happens after the 28th, I recommend you export and backup any code
you might have in PyInSky/PokittoPython/PokittoIDE.

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That is sad news because I found it the best environment to do small games all things considered: the language, the IDE, the “access everywhere” online availability, etc. But this is just my personal view.

I would argue than as it was “designed for kids”, it just makes it a very good low-entry environment for adults also.

Anyway, I agree that it is the best decision to not to continue supporting it, if that would mean costs, as there are not many users nowadays.

Hopefully, we get a working MicroPython environment in FemtoDE instead :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the heads-up. I liked the web IDE for small projects, but I totally understand the reasons to shut it down.

And in the long run it will probably be better to focus on one IDE with an excellent emulator. :slight_smile:

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I didn’t go into much detail in the first post because I wanted to get one point across:

It’s time to backup your projects.

With that out of the way, it’s clear that there is more to be said and the conversation has been split between here and discord. Like I said before, there are new things in the pipeline and alternatives to look into. There will be no more PyInSky, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We’ll make use of the situation to try to get into a better one. Instead of being sad, now is the perfect time to point out what it was that you really liked and disliked about PyInSky so that what comes next can do better.

@Hanski had suggested making a poll, but ranting is better freestyle. Especially since what matters is how the pros and cons affected you, not hypothetical users. The pile of rocks is to the right.

I liked one thing about PyInSky: it could be used anywhere, with no need to install anything, it didn’t even need authentication. That’s a use-case FemtoIDE won’t even try to fulfill.

Now to throw some rocks at it:

  • Maintaining it was a pain. Every small update took so long to do and test.
  • Only emulator. Which goes against the “use anywhere” point, because the emulator in a browser requires some beefy specs. If we could have a simulator it would be much better on slower machines.
  • The kiddy interface got in the way of all the things we wanted to put into it, resulting in a bunch of settings tabs that really wasn’t kid-friendly.
  • I feel micropython has a really hard time fitting on Pokitto. Both CPU and RAM wise.
  • We couldn’t share our projects or access them from other computers.
  • Games were tied to Pokitto hardware. Want to share your game on itch.io? The best you can do is bundle it with the emulator.
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I just finished updating a game that uses PyInSky (Duel Paws), so I’ll try to give some feedback on using it. I have only a few small nitpicks:

  • The link to download the compiled binary vanishes after about a minute. It would have been nice to have had a reminder to recompile in order to get the bin.
  • I couldn’t figure out how to press the C button in the built-in emulator.
  • Is there a way to take a screenshot in the built-in emulator? I couldn’t find documentation mentioning it.
  • Streaming music from the SD card with play_from_sd makes the emulator nonfunctional (just a black screen).
  • Even with the documentation, it was sometimes unintuitive. I think that it may have been difficult for a beginner to use.

Most of these nitpicks are probably specific to PyInSky, but I think they can be applied to a spiritual successor. The built-in emulator felt under-documented, and I couldn’t remember how to do some basic things (like download the bin) after a long period of not using PyInSky. Also, I think it is important for a supported feature (like streaming music) to not break things.

Some pros:

  • the integrated font pre-viewer is excellent! I use it also when coding in Femto to check the font :slight_smile:
  • the bitmap editor is great for tiny games. Can be also used to edit tilemap.
  • drag and drop sound files is a great feature
  • very easy to backup the project to zip and restore by d-n-d.
  • the integrated emulator is great