[Sugar-news] Sugar Digest 2012-12-29

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Sat Dec 29 14:42:04 EST 2012

== Sugar Digest ==

1. We have a newly elected Sugar Labs oversight board. Joining us are
Claudia Urrea, Gonzalo Odiard, and Daniel Francis. Continuing are Adam
Holt, Chris Leonard, Gerald Ardito, and Walter Bender. It is a nice
group -- quite diverse -- which will bring some new perspectives to
the board. Departing are Chris Ball, Aleksey Lim, and Sebastian Silva.
All three will be missed: Chris's calm, thoughtful guidance, Aleksey's
cool insight into the needs of developers and also the reminder that
our mission is broader than just our current collection of tools, and
Sebastian, who lives and breaths on the ground of Sugar deployments,
and has well represented their needs. I hope that our departing
members will continue to participate as non-voting contributors to our
discussions and I also am very grateful for everything they have
contributed in the past.

2. Two more weeks of Google Code In [1]. It has really been fun trying
to keep pace with all of these new contributors to Sugar. If you have
ideas for "tasks", it is not too late to add more. Please contact me
or Chris Leonard.

3. 2012 is coming to an end, a natural time to reflect on where we
have been and where we are going.

>From the technical perspective, Sugar 0.96 and 0.98, which include the
port to GTK3 and support for touch are important milestones. The
tireless work of the development team under the leadership of Simon
Schampijer have really born fruit. They have guaranteed the stability
Sugar on GNU/Linux for the forseeable future. (A tip of the hat to
Martin Langhoff and OLPC Association, who generously supported Simon
and the much of the devel team in 2012.) Their work will be featured
as the OLPC XO4 is unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)
early next month.

>From the learning perspective, through the participation Claudia and
the Learning Team, we made a lot of headway on the understanding how
Sugar is used and how it can be used to more have more impact on
learning. Their work on "making learning visible" has both academic
merit and practical implications for the learner.

>From the user perspective, we continue to expand our user base, both
in terms of new deployments and new platforms. In 2012, we made
renewed headway in the US market, with projects in Miami, Florida and
Charlotte, North Carolina (sponsored by the Knight Foundation). On the
other side of the globe, Barry Vercoe has launched a program in New
Zealand. Meanwhile, existing programs, such as those in Nicaragua and
Paraguay, continue to expand. In Argentina, while the growth of OLPC
has been slow, the growth of Sugar on other platforms is steadfast.
While it is difficult to track where it is being used, the number of
visits to the Sugar-on-a-Stick download page is >> 600,000.

We have also grown our developer community. Of particular note is that
the next generation contributors is in large part coming from Sugar
users. Daniel, Agustin, Christofer, Ignacio, Rafael, and others whom
Flavio Danesse has been mentoring in Uruguay have become central to
the Sugar development process. They have realized our goal of having
real responsibility for learning and the tools for learning lie in the
hands of the learners themselves. This is an unprecedented
accomplishment for which the Sugar Community should be proud. Sugar
Labs participation in Google Code-in is icing on the cake. We've got
>50 new youth contributors since the contest began in November.

>From the point of view of localization and internationalization, the
highlights of 2012 are the progress we have made in Aymara and
Quechua. Edgar Quispe and Irma Alvarez have done wonders. (A tip of
the hat to Chris Leonard and Aymar Ccopacatty for their help and
support.) Barry Vercoe has personally funded work on Maori and we have
had much progress on several indigenous languages in Mexico.
Meanwhile, Chris has made numerous contributions upstream, both by
hosting some upstream projects on our Pootle server, but also by being
a strong voice and advocate within the glibc and pootle communities.

More technical highlights include the work of Daniel Narvaez on
sugar-build, which provides a much more stable development environment
than the unwieldy sugar-jhbuild environment. Under the shepherding of
Peter Robinson and Tom Gilliard, Sugar on a Stick and our virtual
machine support continue to improve in quality and stability. Aleksey,
Sebastian, and Laura Vargas have made contributions to enhance our
ability to support off-line deployments with their work on the Sugar
Network. The work by Team Butia on expanding Sugar into the sphere of
robotics continues to impress me and the work of Guzman Trindad and
Tony Forster, integrating Sugar into the world of rich sensing,
provides endless pleasure.

Another highlight, seemingly innocuous, was the creation of the
Amazonas page in Facebook. This simple use of social media to provide
a support network for teachers in one of the most isolated places on
earth has exceeded my expectations. It has three times as many members
as had attended the workshop in Chachapoyas, and it has daily updates
of projects, questions, and progress. The recent work by Raul
Gutierrez on integrating Turtle Art with Facebook is a harbinger of
how we might make sharing of the Sugar experience more seamless in

Personally, my biggest thrill in 2012 was working with children, in
Miami and in Khairat (India). I had a chance to teach Turtle Art
workshops and in both cases, the children did dance animations that
were impressive in their depth.

So what is next? In 2013 we will see the fruit of some of our efforts,
including a chance to see Sugar with touch in the field. OLPC
Australia will be the first deployment of the OLPC XO4. It will be
interesting to learn what impact it has in the classroom. One thing we
already know is that touch makes Sugar more accessible to younger
(pre-K) children. It also is congruent with the expectations of
children coming of age in the tablet/smart-phone era.

Daniel has been working on revitalizing our automated testing suite,
which will help with maintenance and QA.

We will see advances in localization. Already, the Ministry of
Education in Peru has opened a bid to follow up on the work of Edgar
and Irma. Translation of other language groups is also being advanced.

The topic of support for Special Needs was raised numerous times in
2012. I hope to convene the various interested parties in early 2013
to lay out a new road map for Sugar in this area. (The work on GTK3
has helped in that we know have, for example, an on-screen keyboard.
And by eliminating Hippo, we have removed the last vestiges of Sugar
that were preventing us from using the GNOME tools.)

Perhaps these themes will be the focus of Sugar 1.0, due to be
released in Q2 2013. A few things queued up include setting a
background image on the Home View (thanks to Agustin Zubiaga) and
multiple Home Views (thanks to Daniel Francis).

I also expect that we will be seeing more learning guides in 2013, a
harbinger of which was pulled together for the Charlotte deployment:
teachers sharing best practice.

There are two elephants in the room: The Cloud and Android. How we
face these opportunities will certainly become more clear in 2013.

I hope to organize a Global Sugar conference in 2013. Perhaps at MIT
or perhaps at a deployment. It is time to bring our community together
face to face on a larger scale.

Finally, in 2012, I wrote a book about the OLPC story [2], which
includes a chapter on Sugar, but I need to write a more complete story
about Sugar, its goals and its impact. I am setting that as a personal
goal for 2013.

=== In the community ===

4. Rita Freudenberg announced that a new Etoys book is available:
''Learning with Etoys  Imagine, Invent, Insprire''[3].

=== Sugar Labs ===

Visit our planet [4] for more updates about Sugar and Sugar deployments.


[1] http://www.google-melange.com/gci/homepage/google/gci2012
[2] http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Change-World-Social-Impact/dp/0230337317/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356809905&sr=1-1&keywords=learning+to+change+the+world
[3] http://wiki.squeakland.org/index.php/LearningWithEtoysI3
[4] http://planet.sugarlabs.org

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

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