[Sugar-devel] Sugar Digest 2013-03-03

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Sun Mar 3 12:15:09 EST 2013

== Sugar Digest ==

1. It has been crazy busy. With the upcoming XO4 launch, Sugar with
touch support will be making its debut. The developer team has done a
great job but we are lagging behind a bit on the activity level:
Activities that use keyboard input need to be modified to use the
on-screen keyboard; and now that tablet mode will be used more often,
we need to better attend to the issue of screen rotation.

In order to adapt to the on-screen keyboard, there are two adjustments
that need to be made: (1) use either a GTK Entry or TextView instead
of directly querying the keyboard; and (2) make sure that the Entry is
visible when the keyboard is visible. To address both issues, I have
been mostly using GTK Fixed in order to re-position the Entry
appropriately. But also, I have been using a strategy of moving the
Entry to the top of the activity.

There are two issues with dealing with landscape vs portrait mode. One
is to make sure that the work area of an activity accommodates the
change in size and aspect ration. Perhaps the easiest way to do this
is simply to define a square work are inside of a scrolling window.
There are times when this strategy won't work, such as with Paint, but
for the most part, it is a simple solution.

The toolbars are another matter. It is often the case that not all of
the elements fit when in portrait mode. The default behavior of Sugar,
to make a list on a palette that displays on the edge of the screen is
somewhat lacking, both in that many toolbar items are either not shown
or inoperable in that form. And aesthetically, it is not very
Sugar-like. I've been experimenting with some different approaches to
generating palettes, and also moving some toolbar elements around
(e.g., moving some buttons to secondary toolbars). Alas, none of these
solutions are idea or completely generalizable. But I think there are
harbingers of a solution.

Another issue with touch is that Gtk2 ComboBoxes don't work. The
problem has been fixed in the Gtk3 version of the Sugar tool-kit, but,
not being a fan of Combo Boxes to begin with, I see it as an
opportunity to minimize their use. For example, using bigger/smaller
buttons is arguably an easier way to adjust font size using touch.

Ultimately, we'll want to add more gesture support as well. Many
activities could readily support panning and zooming. And a "long"
press can replace the un-Sugar-like reliance of right-click that some
activities are using.

I've packaged many of these ideas into some experimental (and
production) versions of some activities (Please see [1-7]). Feedback
most welcome.

2. It occurred to me that the Web Services framework that Raul and I
developed a few weeks ago might make a nice home for a simple
classroom service: handing in homework assignments and receiving back
comments from the teacher and fellow students. Such a service could be
dropped right into the same framework we built for Facebook, so in the
Journal, there would be a Share with (or Copy to) Teacher and comments
would appear in the Journal detail view (and be directly integrated in
the Portfolio). Simple, but potentially quite useful.

=== Tech Talk ===

3. Adam Holt reported on the School Server Hack Sprint held in Toronto
(See [8]).

4. Daniel Narvaez has been making great progress on "Agora", his
attempt to achieve the goals of the Sugar Learning Platform using the
web technologies (See [9]).

=== Sugar Labs ===

Visit our planet [10] for more updates about Sugar and Sugar deployments.



[1] http://people.sugarlabs.org/~walter/Abacus-47.1.xo
[2] http://people.sugarlabs.org/~walter/Chart-9.1.xo
[3] http://people.sugarlabs.org/~walter/Chat-78.1.xo
[4] http://people.sugarlabs.org/~walter/Labyrinth-14.4.xo
[5] http://people.sugarlabs.org/~walter/Portfolio-41.2.xo
[6] http://people.sugarlabs.org/~walter/Speak-44.6.xo
[7] http://activities.sugarlabs.org/en-US/sugar/addons/versions/4027#version-173
[8] http://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/server-devel/2013-February/006258.html
[9] http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/sugar-devel/2013-February/041847.html
[10] http://planet.sugarlabs.org

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

More information about the Sugar-devel mailing list