[sugar] Develop Activity

Andrew Clunis orospakr
Tue Dec 19 16:23:33 EST 2006

Hash: SHA1

On Tue, Dec 19, 2006 at 08:41:12AM -0800, Alan Kay wrote:
> Hi Andrew --
> I guess I agree with what you say about Python and its structure, but 
> I was thinking much more about what the children see, not so much the 
> developers.

That brings up another problem.  I myself was a child not so long ago,
and as I started to become interested in computer programming and
software development, it was important to me that I was "on the same
level" as all other desktop application developers (I admit that I was
a bit of a weirdo, though).

Later on, in Grade 11 "Computer Engineering" class, we received
instruction on "Turing", a toy language with a toy interpreter.  It was
proprietary software, only ran on Microsoft platforms, and couldn't
interact much with the host platform (beyond poking bits on I/O ports).

What I mean to say is, if these mechanisms are not the true native face
of the system, they will never be more than a toy (a notable consequence
of this is that developers won't eat their own dog food).
> Since this is a children's machine, important aspects of it should be 
> deconstructable, and in terms that are as simple, understandable and 
> useable as possible. So, if the child "pops the hood" on some 
> interesting object they've been playing with, they should see (I 
> claim) a "Model T" version of the properties and behavior rather than 
> the "fuel injected Ferrari" that might be underneath. And they should 
> be able to write useful scripts in those terms.

Why not just expose the same API for everybody?  No one is obliged to
use the more complicated functions if they don't need them.  Besides,
keeping beginner hackers in mind is a good way to keep our APIs sane and
> For example, the movie player can be abstracted as the very same kind 
> of animations that the child can make and script, and the movie 
> player UI can be constructed in those terms. Much can be done with 
> such an approach, and the special stuff that is being done wrt movies 
> (MPEG decoding, file reading, other optimizations) can be left until later.

It would be awesome if Develop activity did attempt to expose some of
as "Supplies" in a graphical fashion; giving users a graphical list of
tools to select from (that would equate to Python packages).
Unfortunately, we can't get anything more granular than that.

> And, e.g. any objects that have graphic properties can be presented 
> in as similar ways as possible, regardless of how they were actually 
> written underneath ...
> And, I think that the wrappings and views shown older children can 
> look more like Python than those suitable for the younger ones ...

For the really early years, programming should probably be squeak's
job. :)

> Etc.
> Cheers,
> Alan

- --
Andrew Clunis

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