[IAEP] For Sugar Everywhere, Google-ize!

Seth Woodworth seth at isforinsects.com
Wed Feb 16 21:30:29 EST 2011

> Hi folks.  I wish to make a radical proposal:

> Sugar’s days on OLPC hardware are numbered.  Sugar as presently written is
not developing quickly enough, and hasn’t made significant progress towards
supporting the new touchscreen devices coming down the pike.

Scott, your suggestion is radical, but not without precedent.  ErikG was
discussing it at OLPC in 2009, and I’ve been rabble-rousing on the same
topic (as Bernie can attest). To that end, I’ve been collecting information
on the Android ecosystem. I think it possible to port Sugar-like features to
the Android platform, without distributing an independent OS build.

 Home and UI:

The “Home” in Android is provided by an Android app[0].  The home activity
is replaceable in many Android devices. One popular open source launcher
released a pro version and made $150k revenue in one month[1].  To me that
is evidence that home replacements are possible and at least potentially

If ‘someone’ (that someone being SugarLabs or another group) choose to bring
over core Sugar ideas to Android, the network and friends screens can
readily access data from the android API[2][3].


I know little of how Sugar handles collaboration other than vague mentions
of XMPP. Android has a services framework[6] that allows for hooks into
something like a messaging framework (which I seem to have running on my
Nexus One Android phone).  That being said, this weekend I streamed video
from my phone’s camera to a set of video goggles.


What are hoping and allowing students to create?  Out of >1m students
possibly running sugar, we have had very very few documented cases of
students editing and modifying existing activities.  This is very possibly
due to lack of information gathering, but the numbers are still likely

Creation on Android is possible.  In-app creation exists with several
implementations of Logo available on the system, (but nothing as good as
Walter’s TurtleArt).

App creation sort of exists: The Android Scripting Environment allows for
writing very functional programs in Python, Ruby or other languages, with
limited UI options.  PyGame[5] has recently been ported to Android also.
 Google with the MIT Scratch team created App Inventor, which is Scratch for
Android apps, but I think currently requires an internet connection.

 Lastly, Android has a vibrant, active development community, with a robust
SDK and IDE tools.  There exist books (free and otherwise) on Android
development.  And any “activity” developed for AndSugar, also have a direct
market of several million devices.  If a developer is motivated by getting
their software into the hands of users, Android has a lot of eyeballs.


[1] http://www.androidguys.com/2011/02/09/paid-apps-pay-150k-month/




[5] http://www.renpy.org/pygame/#documentation

[6] http://developer.android.com/reference/android/app/Service.html

On Wed, Feb 16, 2011 at 8:36 PM, Christoph Derndorfer <
e0425826 at student.tuwien.ac.at> wrote:

> Am 17.02.2011 01:31, schrieb C. Scott Ananian:
> > Stepping back for a moment, the key question is: how can we get Sugar
> > out of the window manager and network manager and activity update and
> > UI toolkit business, where it's just not keeping up (and wasting our
> > efforts), and concentrate on the stuff we're all really here for:
> > enabling kids to learn and explore and share?  How much can we strip
> > away and still have Sugar?
> >   --scott
> Hi Scott,
> as always your thoughts and perspectives are leading to some interesting
> discussions, much appreciated. :-)
> The inner geek in me certainly loves the ideas presented in your initial
> message. However in the end I think the question in your last e-mail
> ("concentrate on the stuff we're all really here for: enabling kids to
> learn and explore and share?") is what it's really all about. And I
> don't see Android being a part of the solution here but rather, as
> Martin likes to put it, A Distraction.
> The main reasoning for me is quite simple: As of today - and from what
> we know also the foreseeable future - basically all Sugar users will be
> using an XO-1/1.5/1.75.
> Yes, Sugar Labs has done a tremendous job of making it possible to run
> Sugar on other devices. Yet the simple fact is that in terms of numbers
> there are no significant non-XO projects today and though I'd personally
> like to see it happening I don't think it will anytime soon.
> And yes, OLPC is working on a tablet that should start shipping at some
> point in 2012 but even in a best case scenario it will likely take until
> 2013 or 2014 until the number of OLPC tablets even comes close to the
> XO-laptop user base installed by that time.
> So based on these assumptions, given the limited amount of resources
> available, and assuming I haven't missed anything your suggestion would
> basically mean sacrificing the potential to significantly improve the
> experience of the current >1 million Sugar users to develop something
> for unproven potential future markets and users.
> I'd rather see every available resource being poured into working on
> things that matter in the field:
> More activities, enhancing current activities, an interactive help
> system, upgradability (which IIRC is an important goal for 11.2.0
> already), trying to make collaboration work (even if it's only in tiny
> groups, via view-only, etc.), a classroom management activity which
> could for example allow pupils to project the contents of their display
> to a projector connected to the teacher's XO-with-USB2VGA, adding
> PhotoBooth-like effects to Record, improving the Journal, implementing
> the Group View, etc. ad infinitum
> What I'm basically suggesting - and also think is a more realistic
> approach given the current environment - is to make Sugar on the XOs so
> superbly awesome and powerful that other parties, e.g. a country doing
> 1-to-1 but with Intel Classmates rather than XOs or a hardware
> manufacturer wanting to break into the education market, will take care
> of the necessary work to make Sugar run, and run well that is, on their
> devices. Which again seems to be not too different to how the Android
> ecosystem is developing these days.
> Anyway, just my 2 eurocents, and thanks again for the impulse which got
> this discussion started.
> Cheers,
> Christoph
> --
> Christoph Derndorfer
> co-editor, www.olpcnews.com
> e-mail: christoph at olpcnews.com
> _______________________________________________
> IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
> IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
> http://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/iaep
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