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Joy of Coding
June 17th, 2022 - De Doelen, Rotterdam

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Hedy is a gradual programming language that aims to teach kids programming by building up concepts and syntax step by step. Hedy was launched in early 2020 and since then over 2 million Hedy programs have been created worldwide.

From its inception Hedy was multi-lingual in its UI, for example in buttons and error messages. But to be truly inclusive, kids must be able to program in their own natural language!

Thus, since early 2022, Hedy also supports keywords in multiple languages, including Dutch, French, Spanish, Hindi and Arabic.

In this talk Hedy's creator Felienne will take you through all changes that were necessary to make Hedy work multilingually, with a special emphasis on right to left languages which include tricky changes to the website, parser, the syntax highlighter. The talk will help you understand the technical and cultural implications of inclusive programming (language) design.

Felienne Hermans

Felienne is associate professor at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science at Leiden University, where she heads the PERL research group, focused on programming education. She also works at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam one day a week, where she teaches prospective computer science teachers and she is a high-school CS teacher herself at Lyceum Kralingen.

Felienne is the creator of the Hedy programming language, and was one of the founders of the Joy of Coding conference. Since 2016, she has been a host at SE radio, one of the most popular software engineering podcasts on the web. Felienne is the author of “The Programmer’s Brain” a book that helps programmers understand how their brains work and how to use it more effectively. In 2021, Felienne was awarded the Dutch Prize for ICT research.

Felienne is a member the board of I&I, the Dutch association of high-school computer science teachers, and of TC39, the committee that designs JavaScript. Felienne blogs at

Alaaeddin Swidan

Alaaeddin Swidan is an assistant professor of Computer Science at the Netherlands Open University. His research focuses on the difficulties that young learners face when learning how to program.

That includes misconceptions that children hold about programming and computers concepts, code reading and debugging strategies, learning with visual programming environments, and transfer to textual languages.

As part of his interest in programming education, Alaaeddin has grown interested in how natural languages affect the development of programming concepts and skills. This is in particular for languages that are right to left, especially Arabic, his mother language. As a result, Alaaeddin joined the efforts of Felienne Hermans to bring the Arabic version of Hedy to life.