[Edu-sig] Shuttleworth Summit

Winston Wolff winstonw at stratolab.com
Fri Apr 21 15:45:51 CEST 2006

Has anybody looked at http://processing.org?  They have a very small  
but beautiful and easy to use development system for writing graphics  
programs.  It's what inspired my Python version: http://stratolab.com/ 

They are excellent teaching tools because:
	- The system is so simple.  Just type in a line or two of code and  
click RUN.
	- Graphics are accessible with just a few lines like circle 
( [100,100], 50 ).  And graphics are a great place to start because  
beginners get such a large bang for their buck.   Graphics provide a  
lot of motivation which is needed because programming is difficult.   
As others have noted on this list, we programmers have forgotten how  
hard it is to think like programmers.  But for new students, they  
really have to work hard at it.  Getting visual feedback is a great  
reward for their efforts.
	- People are already familiar with the GUI conventions of Windows  
and/or Mac OS X.  But when I started using Squeak, I had to re-learn  
where things are and how to navigate the operating system.  Microsoft  
and Apple have spent a lot of time developing a good GUI, why should  
we try to redevelop one.  It's a waste of time.  Let's just focus on  
the learning part, and not build a whole new GUI just for schools.


On Apr 21, 2006, at 4:29 AM, Guido van Rossum wrote:

> There's a lot to read in your post and the links you post -- more than
> I have time ofr right now. Let me try to prune some of the ideas.
> I'm not interested in switching to Jython for this purpose; nor am I
> interested in directly linking to code that's part of Squeak --
> unless, perhaps, there's some low-level code that is independent of
> the rest of the Squeak environment while providing some functionality
> we need. I'm also not interested in making Python an entirely
> self-contained system such as Squeak is -- much of Python's strengths
> come from its capabilities as a glue language, seamlessly integrating
> with other software on many different platforms.
> But, after encouragement from Alan Kay, I *am* interested in producing
> a Squeak-like environment *on top* of Python. Alan suggested using a
> slightly different starting point than Squeak; modern graphics cards
> have a wealth of functionality that can be accessed directly. I'm no
> graphics expert, but I believe OpenGL and perhaps SVG could be the
> right basis to get started.
> The approach that seems to make the most sense to me (but I'm open for
> alternatives) is to start out by producing a solid low-level graphics
> package like this that can work across platforms (Linux, Windows and
> OSX preferably); once that is settled, we could build an application
> resembling Squeak's UI.
> There's probably more to it; but typing this email at a busy
> conference my thoughts are a bit distracted.
> --Guido
> On 4/21/06, Paul D. Fernhout <pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
>> I've long been interested in making Python development more Squeak
>> Smalltalk like. See for example a recent post of mine to the  
>> Jython user
>> mailing list with some code (would be also useful for CPython with  
>> a few
>> changes):
>>    [jython-users] ReloaderWindow 0.2 (improvements to selective  
>> reloading)
>>    http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/message.php?msg_id=14482359
>> On the topic of an integrated 2D/3D crossplatform solution for Python
>> (like Squeak has), I'd like to point to my related comments on  
>> this list
>> from six (!) years back:
>> [Edu-sig] Common Graphical Framework for Python Tutorials?
>>    Fri, 04 Feb 2000 11:16:39 -0500
>>    http://mail.python.org/pipermail/edu-sig/2000-February/000032.html
>> [Edu-sig] a modest proposal II
>>    Fri, 04 Feb 2000 18:03:01 -0500
>>    http://mail.python.org/pipermail/edu-sig/2000-February/000063.html
>> [Edu-sig] IDLE/TK limitations for learning environments
>>    Fri, 04 Feb 2000 18:32:54 -0500
>>    http://mail.python.org/pipermail/edu-sig/2000-February/000065.html
>> [Edu-sig] Not well supported on the Mac?
>>    Sun, 28 May 2000 15:24:21 -0400
>>    http://mail.python.org/pipermail/edu-sig/2000-May/000495.html
>> Glad to see some interest in such ideas is perking up here. :-)
>> It's all quite doable with enough effort. Though I'd watch out for  
>> Squeak
>> licensing and some Squeak unfinished complexity management issues.  
>> I think
>> it might be better to just use the Squeak base cross-platform  
>> ideas or
>> base code (or perhaps base a new work on wxWidgets) and build a  
>> larger
>> common framework using Python technology and the Python license  
>> (and yet
>> also of interest to Squeakers, like by adding in support for a  
>> Smalltalk
>> parser).
>> Alternatively, one could build on top of Jython -- see my post on  
>> this
>> list from last year on this topic:
>> [Edu-sig] On Jython for education
>>    Wed Oct 19 15:26:02 CEST 2005
>>    http://mail.python.org/pipermail/edu-sig/2005-October/005410.html
>> I think the Jython-based approach might be easiest, though one  
>> then has to
>> wrestle with other Java community and licensing issues. [I personally
>> think the Squeak approach would be more stable and maintainable  
>> though,
>> just 2000 lines of core C to port per platform, with widgets built on
>> that, and a dynamic loading facility for other native code.] A
>> cross-platform system supporting both Python and Smalltalk (and  
>> perhaps
>> Java) on a JVM with a complete Smalltalk-like development environment
>> (including cross-image debugging and development) and with 3D plus  
>> some
>> sort of PythonCard/HyperCard framework out of the box, which had the
>> option of running as a browser plugin, would be really neat.  
>> Probably at
>> least few person months (for me :-) to get that going to the point  
>> where
>> it reached a critical mass and was something people wanted to use  
>> or build
>> on top of though. I've worked on bits and pieces of all these  
>> ideas in a
>> variety of contexts, but never had a chance to put them all together.
>> --Paul Fernhout
>> Andre Roberge wrote:
>>> And, if I may quote from Kirby's follow-up post
>>> http://controlroom.blogspot.com/2006/04/shuttleworth-summit-day- 
>>> two.html
>>> ---
>>> [...]
>>> Loosely coupled tools, with a bottom-up, open source curriculum
>>> writing process, will leave the question of tools somewhat open- 
>>> ended.
>>> The lesson plans will specify the software needed, with multiple  
>>> paths
>>> possible.
>>> ---
>>> +1.  I couldn't agree more :-)
>>> ============
>>> [...]
>>> Momentum seems to be building for a stronger graphics engine, either
>>> 2D or 3D, with Python bindings, that'll run interactively from  
>>> within
>>> a browser. The Squeak folks may be willing to contribute to this
>>> effort. Guido feels we'll need to recruit new talent for this, as  
>>> the
>>> Python community is currently pretty maxed out on projects. Should
>>> such an engine be developed, turtle stuff would be incorporated
>>> therein.
>>> =======
>>> I would love to see this happening and would definitely be  
>>> willing to
>>> contribute to such an effort.  Of course, I would use this to port
>>> rur-ple to the web (as a first step).  Anybody else is as excited
>>> about this possibility as I am?
>>> André
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> --
> --Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)
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winston wolff - (646) 827-2242 - http://www.stratolab.com
learning by creating - video game courses for kids in new york

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