Sugar Digest 2013-12-25

Sugar Digest

”Between the ages of five and nine, I was almost perpetually at war with the education system… As soon as I learned from my mother that there was a place called school that I must attend willy nilly—a place where you were obliged to think about matters prescribed by a ‘teacher,’ not about matters decided by yourself—I was appalled.” —Fred Hoyle

1. Another sweet year: Each year I am asked to write up a summary of the Sugar Labs activity for the Software Freedom Conservancy annual report. Here is a draft of this year’s report.

;JS/HTML5: Last year, our major major technical effort was the transition to GNOME Toolkit 3. This year, we have been focusing on adding Javascript/HTML5 support to Sugar. Under the leadership of Daniel Narvaez, Manuel Quiñones, and Lionel Laské, the developer team has made Javascript/HTML5 a first-class development environment, i.e., you can write Sugar activities in Javascript and they will behave in a manner equivalent to Python/Gtk3 activities, with Journal support, Sugar toolbars, etc. At the same time, these activities can run in a web browser and can readily be ported to platforms such as Android. This has been a community effort with contributions coming from all corners and has already attracted some new developers to the project.

;Web services: Another important technical development was the addition of web services to Sugar. Born from a weekend of coding in Raúl Gutiérrez Segalés’s living room, Sugar now has a framework for integrating with a wide variety of web services, enabling our users to take advantage of file sharing and social network utilities directly from within the Sugar Journal.

;Sugar activities: Our “app store” continues to grow, thanks in large part to contributions from Sugar users who have made the transition to Sugar developers. The trend of apps written by children who grew up with Sugar is holding: still more than 10% of our apps were written by children and at least 30% are maintained by children. Those numbers may increase given a recent development: thanks to the efforts of Marion Zepf, a Google Summer of Code intern, we can now export Python code from Turtle Art, one of the block-based programming environments in Sugar. From there, you are literally two mouse-clicks away from turning your program into a Sugar activity, which can be shared with friends or uploaded to the app store. Meanwhile, we are approaching ten-million downloads from our app store.

;Sugar core: We landed a number of enhancements created by our users. Some of my favorites from the past year are oriented towards end-user customization. We designed Sugar with a sparse aesthetic not because we wanted to promote Swiss design or because we were lacking access to professional designers; rather we wanted to let our users “complete” the look and feel to their own specifications. This is getting easier: Daniel Francis implemented multiple home views; Agustin Zubiaga Sanchez implemented background image support; Ignacio Rodríguez implemented a tool for customizing icons.

;Internationalization push: Chris Leonard continues to recruit and assist translation teams so that Sugar has better coverage in the mother tongues and indigenous languages of our users. One highlight of the past year is that Edgar Quispe completed the translation of Sugar into Aymara, one of the major indigenous languages of Peru. We have some funding from the Trip Advisor Foundation to expand our outreach for internationalization and are currently making a push to recruit more translators in Māori, Haitian Creole, Khmer, Gurani, and Quechua. (A tip of the hat to Larry Denenberg, whom has been working on the Hebrew translations and also made the connection between Trip Advisor Foundation and Sugar Labs.) Chris is also leading an effort to help upstream support for some of these languages, and we continue to host translation efforts for many upstream projects.

;TA Days: Also through the generosity of the Trip Advisor Foundation, we have been celebrating Turtle Art Days: so far in Paraguay, Uruguay, Singapore, Malaysia, Costa Rica, and Peru. Thanks to Claudia Urrea and the learning team who have made these events possible, helping us to promote programming as core pedagogical construct.

;Sugar and robotics: From the Butiá project begun at FING in Montevideo, we’ve seen huge growth in the interest in using Sugar (and in particular, Turtle Art) as a medium for introducing children to programming robotics. Andres Aguirre and Alan Aguiar have worked closely with Sugar Labs to develop a comprehensive programming environment and curriculum around robots. The latest “fork” is Junky, a project lead by Martin Abente in Asuncion. Meanwhile efforts to better support Sugar on platforms such as Raspberry Pi continue: one of our goals is to make Sugar suitable and desirable as a platform for the growing Maker movement.

;Sugar on a Stick: There have been almost 1,000,000 visits to the Sugar on a Stick page (a version of Sugar that will run on any x86-based computer that can boot from a USB stick). We had two releases of [[Sugar_on_a_Stick/Downloads|Sugar on a Stick]] in 2013. Also a GCI student updated the [[Sugar_on_a_Stick/Installation_Process|instructions for preparing a SoaS image]]. Kudos to Peter Robinson, Thomas Gilliard, and the rest of the SoaS team.

;Change in support model: Last year saw a change in focus at One Laptop per Child, developer of the XO computer, which continues to be the platform of choice for most Sugar users. While they still manufacture and sell the XO, they have put much of their effort into developing an Android tablet. This has meant relatively fewer OLPC resources directed towards XO and Sugar. The good news is that the major Sugar deployments have been stepping in: Developers in Australia, Uruguay, Nicaragua, et al. continue to support Sugar on the XO platform and the pace of Sugar development has actually accelerated. Exciting times for the project.

Other highlights from the Sugar Digest:
:November
* Google Code In begins
:October
* Turtle Art Day in Caacupé
* Sugar 100 released
:September
* Sugar on the web demo
:August
* Flavio Danesse expounds on teaching Python
:July
* Turtle Flags released
:June
* Shaping the Future
:May
* Google Summer of Code
:April
* An interview with Alan Kay
:March
* Physics on the XO
:February
* Web services debut
:January 2013
* Visualizing Turtle Blocks
* Claudia, Gonzalo, and Daniel join the oversight board

And some trends:
* Looking at visitors to sugarlabs.org, Uruguay still leads the way by almost an order of magnitude. Argentina, Philippines, and Thailand suggests there are many Sugar users on non-OLPC hardware in those countries.
* There is an uptick in the number of activities written by commercial third parties.
* The trend of kid-developed activities is holding (as well as kid-maintained activities).
* There are more ways for our users to modify Sugar itself, e.g., Icon Change.
* The School Server project has a new life thanks to a concerted community effort.

Last year’s report is available at [[Archive/Current_Events/2012-10-01]].

2. Google Code In. The way it is supposed to work: A student is working on task decides an activity would be better if it had an additional feature, so he adds it. Just two more weeks left. To date, more than 150 projects have been completed by 32 competitors. A few highlights: a icon view for the Journal, a pen object for Physics, a brilliant video on how to use view source [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm5VdvRMvo4&feature=youtu.be], a comic-book introduction to Turtle Art [http://google-melange.appspot.com/gci/work/download/google/gci2013/5814499076472832?id=5668600916475904], a new activity to enable end users to exploit the multiple homeview feature, a new web service to upload Journal objects to PutLocker…

In the community

3. April in Paris: Save 12, 13 April 2014 for SugarCamp Paris. Lionel Laské will be sharing more details in the coming weeks.

Tech Talk

Lots of gifts from the community:

4. Aura Mora, Felipe, Luis Felipe, and students of ICESI University developed a game around Values (See the Valorar Activity [http://activities.sugarlabs.org/es-ES/sugar/addon/4721]).

5. Lionel Laské announced the second version of his prototype of Sugarizer, Sugar in a web page (See http://sugarizer.org). This version now include the list view of the home, datastore handling, popup menu on activities, and journal view.

6. Bert Freudenberg developed SqueakJS, a new Squeak VM that runs on Javascript (See [http://croquetweak.blogspot.de/2013/12/squeakjs-lively-squeak-vm.html]).

Sugar Labs

6. Please visit our planet [http://planet.sugarlabs.org].

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