[IAEP] Sugar Digest 2010-01-19

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Tue Jan 19 10:54:31 EST 2010

=== Sugar Digest ===

1. In the spirit of making Sugar and Sugar Activities readily
appropriated and modified by the end user, I have been distracted of
late writing code. Raúl Gutiérrez Segalés and I have been working on a
refactoring of Turtle Art in order to make it easier to extend by
teachers—a long-standing goal
I have an ulterior motive as well: making Turtle Art (and other
Activities) easier to maintain. Towards that effort, I have been
reworking and streamlining some of the library classes: specifically,
the sprite module and the graphics generation module. The focus on
these libraries is to address a typical problem I struggle with:
localization. The Turtle Art graphics are assembled from a combination
of pre-composed artwork and strings that are translated as part of the
localization process. A word or phrase that is short in one language
might be long in another, e.g., 'left' in English and 'izquierda' in
Spanish. Coming up with static graphics that can accommodate this
degree of variation has been a challenge. The original Turtle Art
graphics were bitmaps (GIF), which are not readily amenable to
manipulation. In an earlier refactoring, I converted the graphics to
vectors (SVG), but I still have had to do a lot of hand-tuning of the
artwork, saving the results in individual files for each language. In
the case of Turtle Art, this has been unwieldy: thousands of files are
involved. The solution I am exploring is the dynamic generation of the
graphics, where I combine the use of SVG and Pango. I am hopeful that
the end results will not only be easier to maintain, but will also
enable more facile extensions to the base Activity. To test some of
these ideas, I updated the VisualMatch Activity
[http://activities.sugarlabs.org/en-US/sugar/addon/4246] to use the
new libraries. It not only allowed me to streamline the Activity
itself, but it also made it much easier to add new play modes—adding
Mayan took less than 30 minutes—and adding end-user editing—it was
suddenly trivial to allow the users to modify the cards used in the
word game. I'm close to pushing these changes into Turtle Art as well.
Hopefully we will see more local forks of the code as the barriers to
modification and maintenance are lowered.

2. Speaking of Turtle Art, there is a wonderful essay on the origins
of the Logo turtle at [http://cyberneticzoo.com/?p=1711].

3. Most of the work we have been doing during our December and January
Sugar Labs oversight-board meetings has been in regard to our
Trademark policies. We are very close reaching consensus on a
redrafting of our policy
Please add your comments and give us your feedback before our next
meeting, Friday, 22 January, at 16UTC (11EST) in #sugar-meeting on

=== In the community ===

4. I gave two short talks about modifying Sugar over the weekend: one
in Washington DC at the OLPC Learning Club meeting and one in
Wellington, New Zealand at the Linux Conference Australia (LCA)
education miniconference. (In both cases, I appeared remotely, saving
a bit of wear and tear on my body and my carbon footprint.) My notes
are available on line as well:

5. The call for papers for the 5th International Conference on
e-Learning [http://academic-conferences.org/icel/icel2010/icel10-minitrack.htm]
has been extended until the 22nd January 2010. This is a good
opportunity to submit some abstracts about Sugar.

6. Kaçandre Bourdelais announced the creation of FranXOphonie
[http://www.franxophonie.org], a community portal for Sugar projects
in Francophone countries around the world, including Senegal, Haïti,
Cameroon, Vietnam, Central Africa, Rwanda, Libreville, Madagascar,
Mali, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, and, of course, France.

=== Tech talk ===

7. Simon Schampijer convened a meeting of the design team to discuss a
number of open-ended design issues for Sugar 0.88. The most hotly
debated topic has been the question of how to best accommodate both
'start new' and 'resume' on the Home View. Part of the contention has
been a lack of consensus regarding the role of the Home View vs. the
Journal in resuming Activities. A seemingly reasonable compromise has
been reached—although we will have to do some thorough testing before
pushing the change. The gist of the compromise is to make the Journal
a permanent part of the Home View—thus more accessible—a change that
has merit in itself. Gary Martin has made some mock-up images as a
means of visualizing the ideas being discussed (See
and http://wiki.suagrlabs.org/go/File:Home_mockup_with_journal_icon_and_start_new_default_2.png).

8. Sascha Silbe's version-support fork of Sugar is available for
testing. Please see
for details.

9. Sascha's VNC-based sugar-emulator (which can be used instead of the
often problematic Xephyr) is also available for testing. If you use
sugar-jhbuild and have had problems with keyboard mappings or
window-manager interactions, you may want to try the VNC version.

=== Sugar Labs ===

10. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion
on the IAEP mailing list (Please see

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

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