[IAEP] [Sugar-devel] [SLOBS] Long-term support for Sugar

Michael Stone michael at laptop.org
Thu Sep 24 20:14:52 EDT 2009

Ben wrote: 
> Michael Stone wrote:
>> Consequently, I want to make using activities more like web pages. That's
>> why I work on rainbow and on networking design.
>> In my opinion, ideally, they click a URL and the software they
>> clicked runs most of the time. They don't care what version is underneath.
>> If they want to change it, they hit view source and edit. If they want to
>> share it, they share the URL, however they like.
> Thank you for this perspective.  I think this is a very helpful way to
> think about our software behavior goals, especially if we imagine our URLs
> as being a bit content-addressable.

I'm glad that you find it helpful and would be curious to know whether other
people feel the same way or differently.

>> Lastly, about the idea of shipping everything in Python, or Java, or
>> Smalltalk: Give up -- this works for mobile phones, not for "things to think
>> with"! Programming languages are prime examples of "things to think with".
>> We're trying to provide people with lots of these, and with the best ones
>> that we can find, remember?

> Hmm... but surely web pages are the prime example of a medium that
> contains an extremely limited variety of languages?

Not really. On the client side, there's HTML, CSS, Flash, PDF, Javascript,
various video formats, various image formats, various sound formats, Java
Applets, ActiveX controls, integration with mail and news clients, and more. On
the server side, there is even greater diversity.

We can argue about whether this collection is a "small" or "large number of
languages. I don't really care. It suffices for my argument that the web does
not contain One Language To Rule Them All and that there are extremely
well-known conformance problems in the interpreters for these languages and yet
things basically work out anyway because there are so many redundant ways of
accomplishing the goal, which is learning.

> I have come to accept that we should "provide people with lots of"
> languages, but I think we can, and should, choose our interpreters to
> retain independence of platform, and isolation from distro issues.  Even
> x86 assembler can be such a language, given an appropriate interpreter.
> For a particularly strange glimpse into the future:
> http://www.codebase.es/jsgb/
> [1] http://www.qemu.org/qemu-doc.html#SEC69

Neat examples. I'm glad that we agree that more languages is basically good.
As for interpreters -- I absolutely agree that they should be chosen carefully.
I just think that the interpreter that we choose carefully should be the one
that prepares to run a program (e.g.  by fetching and installing it, or by
caching it, etc) rather than the one that runs it.

Does this distinction make sense?

Kind regards,


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