Toby is a TurtleGraphics language and learning environment, similar, in many ways, to LOGO. You have a cute triangle that you move around the screen with simple commands: go forward, turn right, etc. With these commands you can construct fascinating games, works of art, and outlets of expression. It's fascinating and useful for everyone from early childhood to late adulthood.

TurtleGraphics have been noted by many psychologists and educators to be a powerful aid in teaching geometry, spatial perception, logic skills, computer programming, and art. Toby builds on the work of LOGO by cleaning up the syntax of the programming language itself, enabling students to dive into the software more easily, while at the same time giving them a better lesson in what clean, maintainable software looks like.

It may seem a bit intimidating to boast that a software package can be aimed at such a large age group, and be a good teaching device that also happens to better prepare students for high-paying technical jobs, but it's true; the value of TurtleGraphics are undisputably enriching in many fields.

Toby adheres to a simple paradigm:

Here are some screenshots of the current stable version of Toby.

For several years now, one of the development goals of Toby has been cross-platform support. A program is of no use if it won't run on your computer. To that end, the current stable release of Toby is written in Java 1.2, which allows it to run on most computers and operating systems, whether you have an iMac or a Windows box or Linux running on a Sparc mainframe.

The current development version of Toby, however, is a rewrite (rewrite #5, to be specific) in C and C++. The goal is more flexibility and performance speed without a loss in portability. Indeed, we are targeting platforms that have no Java support in the first place. The vision of being able to use Toby on your Palm Pilot will be realized yet.

Toby's educational value does not stop with the program; all versions of Toby are available in source code form, so the advanced (and the curious) may poke around under the hood to see what makes Toby tick. In fact, the license Toby uses requires that the source code always be available to those that want to take a look, so that others might learn and benefit from it.

The best source of documentation right now is myself; do not hesistate to email me with questions about the installation, the program itself, or the philosophy behind it. I love email. :)


Prepackaged source code:

Downloading from Mercurial:

Toby's source code may be downloaded using Mercurial (aka: "hg"). Hg allows you to get up-to-the-minute fixes and enhancements; as a developer works on a source tree, you can use hg to mirror that source tree instead of waiting for an official release. Please look at the Mercurial website for more information on using hg, where you can also download software for Mac OS X, Windows, and Unix systems.

Toby is no longer hosted in a CVS or Subversion repository. You have to use hg or wait for an official release.

Here is the web interface to Toby's Mercurial repository.

To download Toby via Mercurial:

hg clone


Contributions of any sort, including hardware, money, software, source modifications, and testimonials are always very welcome and highly appreciated. I make no money off my work on Toby, and do it in my spare time for the betterment of myself and others. Still, donations are a great way to keep this project going at full steam. If you'd like to make a donation of any kind (monetarily or otherwise), please email me and we'll talk.

Previous contributions: graciously gave me a grant of 1,000 dollars to continue my work on Toby. This money went towards RAM upgrades for my development box, an iMac that produced Toby for MacOS and LinuxPPC, and a CD burner so that I can take physical copies of Toby on disc to schools. Much thanks! Link

Mailing list:

There is a mailing list for Toby available. To subscribe, send a blank email to To send mail to the list, write to

Page maintained by Ryan C. Gordon.