[Dextrose] Activity Market [WAS: Sugar WebSDK + Activity Pack]

Sridhar Dhanapalan sridhar at laptop.org.au
Thu Jul 7 09:26:04 EDT 2011

I like the notion of making activities easier to find and install. The
feedback that we've received is that ASLO is too messy, and the
process isn't smooth enough.

The idea I had was to have an Activity Market, similar to the Android
Market or the Apple App Store. This would be a place where activities
could be easily managed directly on the XO. You should be able to
easily browse through, search for, install and remove activities. I
think that this model would work well, since Sugar activities are
usually self-contained.

How does your idea differ from this?


On 18 June 2011 16:58, Sebastian Silva <sebastian at somosazucar.org> wrote:
> "The most important part of a christmas gift is the packaging." - My
> father-in-law (acording to my wife)
> Dextrose Activity Pack
> As maybe you know, we started giving some maintenance to a collection of
> activities - the Dextrose Activity Pack. These activities will come with
> Dextrose but you will also be able to download them as a pack.
> My plan is you will be able to download an activity catalogue.  Think of
> "Add & Remove Activities" like in Ubuntu, except activity bundles may come
> precached so that you can download an entire "Activity Pack" into USB or
> otherwise distribute offline or online as a single download.
> Currently ASLO, Sugar Labs's Activity Library does not cover this.
> Obtaining/updating several activities at once over a slow link is a pain.
> Deployments could use this mechanism to distribute new activities / updates.
> The Catalogue
> Looking at the catalogue, I think it should be visually attractive, have
> screenshots, authors, a description. It could even offer a way to provide
> feedback for each activity and/or interact with other users.
> In order to provide an interesting package system for deployers and end
> users, I think I need to focus on building this Catalogue, make it really
> nice and user friendly.
> The Sugar WebSDK
> I've decided to develop a framework for the approach I'm taking with the
> Catalogue. The pattern is known as Model-View-Controller and is widely used
> in web industry and other places [0].
> In short, we provide a View layer that is powered by Webkit. This layer is
> connected thru events with the Controller layer, which is implemented in
> Python. The Controller interacts with the Model, also in Python, the layer
> which handles data. In turn, the View may be updated. Javascript will also
> be available.
> The good part is that all the components are already there. I've been doing
> research and I found Python Webkit DOM Bindings [1]. The point of Sugar
> WebSDK is not making Web .xo bundles, but implementing the GUI part of the
> activity (except for sugar toolbars) as a Webkit window, effectively turning
> it into a GUI toolkit engine. A similar approach was taken by "Titanium
> Appcelerator Desktop SDK" [2] which powers the Status.Net Desktop client
> [3].
> I believe the ability to effectively make attractive interfaces in PyGTK is
> pretty scarce. Doing so is also very time consuming. OTOH there is a
> huge, mature offering of talented web designers out there. Embedded
> javascript might allow for interesting visual tricks like jquery's fade
> effects, or even full HTML5 gadgets/widgets.
> I expect the Activity ecosystem can make good use of a framework which
> allows to distribute the production of an Activity among a team that
> can include traditional HTML/CSS designers. I know we can.
> I intent to make this WebSDK a Sugar Labs project. This framework will be
> shared to the developer community with a tutorial and of course, will be
> used to build the Activity Pack Catalogue.
> RoadMap
> Initial Hello World of Sugar WebSDK - Beginning of July
> Interface Design of Activity Pack Catalogue - July
> Implementation of Catalogue functionality - August
> This would be enough for a first "beta" release.
> Focus after that should be on polish and documentation for a release of both
> the WebSDK and the Activity Pack Catalogue.
> Help appreciated
> Currently I'm done with researching and ready to implement. If I missed
> something it'd be nice to know, as well as general feedback on the WebSDK
> idea. I especially appreciate prior experience and gotchas that may save me
> time.
> Open questions remain with the back-end package functionality: How it all
> interacts with ASLO and the Sugar update mechanism.
> I'm inspired partly by some insights Lucian had with Webified. Also Alsroot,
> with the brilliant sweets project.
> My impression: ASLO+ project and Sweets packaging system could probably be
> the backend medium term. An implementation reusing Anish's metadata updater
> code is probably the lowest hanging fruit.
> Sincerely,
> Sebastian
> Somos Azucar
> Activity Central Activity Team
> [0] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_View_Controller
> [1] - http://www.gnu.org/software/pythonwebkit/
> [2] - http://developer.appcelerator.com/doc/desktop/python
> [3] - http://status.net/desktop
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