[Sugar-devel] [DESIGN RFC] Onboarding

Tony Anderson tony_anderson at usa.net
Sun Dec 27 02:48:03 EST 2015

Hi, Sam

Excellent proposal. We should solicit community input on additional 
items which experience users need to learn to get comfortable with using 
the XO.

I think your implementation involves too much programming. Perhaps a 
youtube style screencast walkthroughs and posters would be an alternative.

We intend for the XO and Sugar to facilitate learning - your are 
addressing one of the strategic issues with the OLPC concept - how to 
use it to introduce
users to the XO and Sugar. Many criticisms of the concept have focused 
on the inadequate level of training of teachers. We need to enable them 
and their students to continue to recall the training material and to  
learn more of the capabilities of the laptop after the support team leaves.

I think everyone understands that there are many capabilities of the 
laptop which will not be learned efficiently solely by exploration. I 
have never heard
Walter Bender introduce TurtleBlocks by saying 'launch the activity with 
the turtle icon and have fun'.

The first step is to get the new users able to use the XO. This is not 
intuitive. This introduction involves 'how to plug in the laptop', 
'observe the light
showing that the battery is charging - possibly even the quick flash 
when plugging in showing battery is there', 'how to open the laptop', 
'how to power on',
'how to launch an activity - record', 'How to take a self-portrait', 
'how to stop the activity', 'how to shut down the XO - emphasize the 
difference between shutdown and suspend', 'how to close the XO'. These 
are the minimum steps that must be learned to use the XO at all - and so 
must be presented without computer assistance.

If time permits, the user can switch to the Journal, change the name of 
the image from 'photo by nick', resume with imageviewer, stop imageviewer.

With record,  users need to learn to position themselves in front of the 
camera and not the screen - they bring the laptop close and are 
disappointed that their face is not visible.'. To use the camera as a 
camera, the simplest solution I've found is to convert it to tablet 
position (with record running), frame the picture through the left hole 
in the handle (under the lens), and shoot with the circle game button 
(also under the lens). This last is a good way to introduce the tablet 

Sugar has some logical ui, but there are some that are also some 
illogical quirks. In the above case, the easiest way to switch to the 
Journal is to use the Journal button on the keyboard. However, after 
giving the picture a suitable name, getting back to record requires the 
frame. The Journal should not be 'an activity' so that a switch to the 
Journal should allow a return to the activity with the activity key. The 
Journal key makes the activity key redundant. Try collecting a series of 
screenshots to document an activity and you will know the problem!

Generally at a deployment, the user receives an XO with Sugar installed 
and ready for use. In that case an introduction to 'flashing' is not 
really needed. However, we have made life more difficult in recent 
releases with the 'gender' and 'class' screens. In most deployments, the 
laptops are prepared for use before school starts - at that time the 
school does not know who will be assigned to the laptop. In many 
deployments an XO is used by more than one student which means the nick 
and other information needs to be updated two to three times a day as 
the laptop changes hands.

It is very helpful, if there are posters on the class wall showing a 
good picture of the XO, a closeup of the keyboard with special keys 
marked, and pictures of the procedure for opening, powering up, and 
configuring in tablet mode. Sugarlabs could prepare images for this 
which could be made into posters locally at, in my experience, quite 
reasonable cost. This is needed by teachers who are new to the laptop 
and need to instruct their students on these basic procedures.
It is also needed as a reminder if a new student enters the class and 
the teacher asks one of the students to show the new student how to get 


On 12/27/2015 08:20 AM, Sam P. wrote:
> Hi All,
> Sugar has a novel user interface, with lots of beautiful and logical 
> things.  However, there are some important elements (such as the frame 
> or journal) that are not familiar or intuitive to new users.  This is 
> an issue, as sugar currently relys upon exploration as our only user 
> onboarding strategy.
> The un-intuitiveness of our ui comes up every now and again.  I 
> previously conducted a small and probably skewed survey, however the 
> lack of user onboarding and the effects of that (how users did not 
> understand the interface) were apparent.  It's also written about in 
> Jeff Atwood's (old) article "the Sugar UI", where he says, "I have to 
> admit that I didn't find the Sugar UI particularly intuitive or 
> discoverable, even after using it for 10 minutes and learning the 
> basics."
> Please have a look at my design proposal to add help for new users 
> [1].  No implementation has been done (as you would expect due to the 
> time in the release cycle), and comments would be appreciated to 
> create a great design before even thinking of implementing.
> Thanks,
> Sam
> [1] http://www.sam.today/blog/sugar-onboard-design.html
> _______________________________________________
> Sugar-devel mailing list
> Sugar-devel at lists.sugarlabs.org
> http://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/sugar-devel

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