Novice students lack experience in conducting experiments. Because of that, they need guidance when during an experiment. Now, many programmers might also lack this knowledge and experinced chemists might not know how to program. To solve this problem, the project group responsible for the creation of the VirtuChemLab also developed another application: an editor which allows non-programmers to define experiment instructions. Instead of writing code, an experiment can then simply be defined visually.
The visual representation has multiple benefits. Firstly, it is much more approachable than having to write a program which needs to obey a strict syntax. Secondly, it is no longer dependent on the linearity of text. Because of that, it is easier to model that there is not always a single valid order in which experiments need to be conducted. For example, it is not important whether the student first fixes a thermometer onto a support stand and then prepares a beaker with water. It is, however, important that both of these things are done before the student can put the thermometer into the water.
Currently, the scope of the editor is limited. We would like to see the editor being able to handle an increased variety of experiments. Furthermore, it would be interestering to see how the virtual tutor may utilize the information from the editor.