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'Nat’s World': The Python-Based Program That Changed A Boy’s Life

'Nat’s World': The Python-Based Program That Changed A Boy’s Life

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One fine day, Ned Batchelder, a software engineer from the U.S., decided that he'd use his programming skills to change the life of his autistic son, Nat, forever. The weapon he chose to wield was none other than Python, the heartthrob amongst programming languages.

Ever so often, someone comes along and does something worthwhile to remind us that if there is enough will and conviction, one can leverage technology to make the most profound difference in the world. Keep reading to find out how Nat’s father used Python to change his life.

Visual aids help autistic people communicate, express, and retain information efficiently. Ned knew this better than anyone; his son’s inimitable sense of fascination for the pictures they clicked on their digital camera was enough proof.

Although Nat always seemed excited about viewing their digital albums, he faced a debilitating challenge - navigation. Ned introduced his son to simple image viewers but was not quite satisfied with their functionality for Nat. He wanted to build a program that worked the way Nat wanted it to. And so he did!

Born out of his love for Nat is ‘Nat’s world’ - a program powered by 1400 lines of code written in Python, one of the fastest-growing programming languages in the world. Nat’s world is a virtual world; ‘a picture environment’ weaved by images that satiate Nat’s curiosity. 

The best part? Easy navigation for Nat, the curious.

Ned didn’t have to think twice before choosing the programming language for Nat’s world. Python is a versatile language with a simple syntax and hundreds of libraries and frameworks. He was already in love with its unbeaten potential. 

With Python, he had a malleable environment at his disposal where he could experiment with various features that appealed to Nat. It gave him a neat object-oriented basis to build his Node class on. He leveraged Python statements for building structures and used utility functions and classes to create shortcuts to common structures.

Ned believes in the power of Python; he aspires to build applications for non-technical people to view images someday. If he is to write these programs in the future, he is certain that Python would be his go-to tool. 

Though Ned explains on his website that his program has no meaning beyond his family, one can’t help but be in awe of the immense transformative potential of a programming language like Python. 

Given a chance, how would you use technology to make someone’s life better? We would love to know your thoughts in the comments section. 

To read the full account from Ned himself, visit https://www.python.org/about/success/natsworld/.

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