[Sugar-news] Sugar Digest 2013-12-25

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Wed Dec 25 19:41:39 EST 2013

Happy holidays.

==Sugar Digest==

''Between the ages of five and nine, I was almost perpetually at war
with the education system... As soon as I learned from my mother that
there was a place called school that I must attend willy nilly—a place
where you were obliged to think about matters prescribed by a
'teacher,' not about matters decided by yourself—I was appalled.''
—Fred Hoyle

1. Another sweet year: Each year I am asked to write up a summary of
the Sugar Labs activity for the Software Freedom Conservancy annual
report. Here is a draft of this year's report.

;JS/HTML5: Last year, our major major technical effort was the
transition to GNOME Toolkit 3. This year, we have been focusing on
adding Javascript/HTML5 support to Sugar. Under the leadership of
Daniel Narvaez, Manuel Quiñones, and Lionel Laské, the developer team
has made Javascript/HTML5 a first-class development environment, i.e.,
you can write Sugar activities in Javascript and they will behave in a
manner equivalent to Python/Gtk3 activities, with Journal support,
Sugar toolbars, etc. At the same time, these activities can run in a
web browser and can readily be ported to platforms such as Android.
This has been a community effort with contributions coming from all
corners and has already attracted some new developers to the project.

;Web services: Another important technical development was the
addition of web services to Sugar. Born from a weekend of coding in
Raúl Gutiérrez Segalés's living room, Sugar now has a framework for
integrating with a wide variety of web services, enabling our users to
take advantage of file sharing and social network utilities directly
from within the Sugar Journal.

;Sugar activities: Our "app store" continues to grow, thanks in large
part to contributions from Sugar users who have made the transition to
Sugar developers. The trend of apps written by children who grew up
with Sugar is holding: still more than 10% of our apps were written by
children and at least 30% are maintained by children. Those numbers
may increase given a recent development: thanks to the efforts of
Marion Zepf, a Google Summer of Code intern, we can now export Python
code from Turtle Art, one of the block-based programming environments
in Sugar. From there, you are literally two mouse-clicks away from
turning your program into a Sugar activity, which can be shared with
friends or uploaded to the app store. Meanwhile, we are approaching
ten-million downloads from our app store.

;Sugar core: We landed a number of enhancements created by our users.
Some of my favorites from the past year are oriented towards end-user
customization. We designed Sugar with a sparse aesthetic not because
we wanted to promote Swiss design or because we were lacking access to
professional designers; rather we wanted to let our users "complete"
the look and feel to their own specifications. This is getting easier:
Daniel Francis implemented multiple home views; Agustin Zubiaga
Sanchez implemented background image support; Ignacio Rodríguez
implemented a tool for customizing icons.

;Internationalization push: Chris Leonard continues to recruit and
assist translation teams so that Sugar has better coverage in the
mother tongues and indigenous languages of our users. One highlight of
the past year is that Edgar Quispe completed the translation of Sugar
into Aymara, one of the major indigenous languages of Peru. We have
some funding from the Trip Advisor Foundation to expand our outreach
for internationalization and are currently making a push to recruit
more translators in Māori, Haitian Creole, Khmer, Gurani, and Quechua.
(A tip of the hat to Larry Denenberg, whom has been working on the
Hebrew translations and also made the connection between Trip Advisor
Foundation and Sugar Labs.) Chris is also leading an effort to help
upstream support for some of these languages, and we continue to host
translation efforts for many upstream projects.

;TA Days: Also through the generosity of the Trip Advisor Foundation,
we have been celebrating Turtle Art Days: so far in Paraguay, Uruguay,
Singapore, Malaysia, Costa Rica, and Peru. Thanks to Claudia Urrea and
the learning team who have made these events possible, helping us to
promote programming as core pedagogical construct.

;Sugar and robotics: From the Butiá project begun at FING in
Montevideo, we've seen huge growth in the interest in using Sugar (and
in particular, Turtle Art) as a medium for introducing children to
programming robotics. Andres Aguirre and Alan Aguiar have worked
closely with Sugar Labs to develop a comprehensive programming
environment and curriculum around robots. The latest "fork" is Junky,
a project lead by Martin Abente in Asuncion. Meanwhile efforts to
better support Sugar on platforms such as Raspberry Pi continue: one
of our goals is to make Sugar suitable and desirable as a platform for
the growing Maker movement.

;Sugar on a Stick: There have been almost 1,000,000 visits to the
Sugar on a Stick page (a version of Sugar that will run on any
x86-based computer that can boot from a USB stick).

;Change in support model: Last year saw a change in focus at One
Laptop per Child, developer of the XO computer, which continues to be
the platform of choice for most Sugar users. While they still
manufacture and sell the XO, they have put much of their effort into
developing an Android tablet. This has meant relatively fewer OLPC
resources directed towards XO and Sugar. The good news is that the
major Sugar deployments have been stepping in: Developers in
Australia, Uruguay, Nicaragua, et al. continue to support Sugar on the
XO platform and the pace of Sugar development has actually
accelerated. Exciting times for the project.

Other highlights from the Sugar Digest:
* Google Code In begins
* Turtle Art Day in Caacupé
* Sugar 100 released
* Sugar on the web demo
* Flavio Danesse expounds on teaching Python
* Turtle Flags released
* Shaping the Future
* Google Summer of Code
* An interview with Alan Kay
* Physics on the XO
* Web services debut
:January 2013
* Visualizing Turtle Blocks
* Claudia, Gonzalo, and Daniel join the oversight board

And some trends:
* Looking at visitors to sugarlabs.org, Uruguay still leads the way by
almost an order of magnitude. Argentina, Philippines, and Thailand
suggests there are many Sugar users on non-OLPC hardware in those
* There is an uptick in the number of activities written by commercial
third parties.
* The trend of kid-developed activities is holding (as well as
kid-maintained activities).
* There are more ways for our users to modify Sugar itself, e.g., Icon Change.
* The School Server project has a new life thanks to a concerted
community effort.

Last year's report is available at [1].

2. Google Code In. The way it is supposed to work: A student is
working on task decides an activity would be better if it had an
additional feature, so he adds it. Just two more weeks left. To date,
more than 150 projects have been completed by 32 competitors. A few
highlights: a icon view for the Journal, a pen object for Physics, a
brilliant video on how to use view source [2], a comic-book
introduction to Turtle Art [3], a new activity to enable end users to
exploit the multiple homeview feature, a new web service to upload
Journal objects to PutLocker...

=== In the community ===

3. April in Paris: Save 12, 13 April 2014 for SugarCamp Paris. Lionel
Laské will be sharing more details in the coming weeks.

=== Tech Talk ===

Lots of gifts from the community:

4. Aura Mora, Felipe, Luis Felipe, and students of ICESI University
developed a game around Values (See the Valorar Activity [4]).

5. Lionel Laské annouced the second version of his prototype of
Sugarizer, Sugar in a web page (See [5]). This version now include the
list view of the home, datastore handling, popup menu on activities,
and journal view.

6. Bert Freudenberg developed SqueakJS, a new Squeak VM that runs on
Javascript (See [6]).

=== Sugar Labs ===

6. Please visit our planet [7].


[1] http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Archive/Current_Events/2012-10-01
[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm5VdvRMvo4&feature=youtu.be
[3] http://google-melange.appspot.com/gci/work/download/google/gci2013/5814499076472832?id=5668600916475904
[4] http://activities.sugarlabs.org/es-ES/sugar/addon/4721
[5] http://sugarizer.org
[6] http://croquetweak.blogspot.de/2013/12/squeakjs-lively-squeak-vm.html
[7] http://planet.sugarlabs.org

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

More information about the Community-news mailing list