[Edu-sig] PySqueak: pyGTK & Cairo & pygtkglext (OpenGL) next?

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sun Jun 4 01:03:39 CEST 2006


Thanks for the field report and links.

So, just based on only these two comments (yours and Brad's), for 
GNU/Linux and recent Windows compatablity, pyGTK and Cairo are probably 
"works out of the box" experiences for most, but on Mac they are not. And 
3D with pygtkglext is problematical on both Win and Mac (and I have not 
tried it either under Debian), so 3D that way sounds like a future thing 
at best.

Live CDs sound great for the field (we had the earlier discussion about it 
on edusig a month or two back, including a link to a Python software 
distribution on a GNU/Linux bootable CD),
though for individuals, like you say, they have to be motivated to make 
and boot a CD, more so than a simple download onto their current system.

I read a few of the Alan Kay posts in that thread just now, and I think he 
is right on people not wanting to spread technology developed after the 
1960s (and objects are a 1970s thing. :-). He sounds frustrated about it, 
but then so am I. :-) The site that he linked to was down, but the follow 
up reports suggested that some people had problems with the code there 
(JavaScript in a browser?), so even a browser based solution failed to 
deliver easy access to programming for people. No suprise with all the 
different versions of browsers out there (especially among people liable 
to try that demo). I personally have little interest trying to dumb 
something down to the browser level because I want to use things I make to 
write big systems, which would be hard in a browser, although I think it 
is none-the-less worth trying for others with different interest, like 
Johannes' Summer of Code project.

I may have mentioned it here before, but one of my relatives who is a 
teacher had to sign a document saying she could be fired if they installed 
any software on her classroom computer. (The school district is worried 
about getting audited for copyright violations). But, presumabl, Java 
applets might be OK? I think the licensing issue and installation ease 
issue is a much bigger deal on the K-12 level than at the home or college 
level. One thing in the back of my mind since she told me that was some 
sort of dynamic application plus licensing information system where she 
could get her district to allow installation of a plugin or application 
which only allowed free software top be run on it. That way, they district 
is safe from lawsuits, and she has access to educational materials. It 
might be nice if some versions of PataPata or such could include that sort 
of capability -- only accepting applications digitally signed as being 
free to use (the opposite of must DRM software :-). Is edusig more 
composed of people on the college level, that we may not get too many K-12 
educators chiming in on this?  Or maybe it is not such a big problem 
outside the USA? See:
"Guitar maker plays a Linux tune"
Can't find a school raid one off hand, but I know I have seen them before.

Still, JavaScript is powerful and prototype-based, so something to keep 
thinking about. By the way, there is a JavaScript based interchange 
language Python binds to which I forget the name of which I had been 
thinking of using in PataPata instead of (unsafe) Python for data 
interchange (though I would prefer Python and a limited Python parser, say 
that only called a list of functions and classes, but people say wait for 
PyPy) -- if I could just remember what is was called.

Thanks for the links. Got some ideas from Logo:TNG (I looked at two 
clips). Nice, and Squeak has something like it for some programming apps, 
but personally, I think (like Kirby?) that programming is more about 
language and text manipulation. Probably nothing wrong with introducing it 
as they do (nice idea of making statements like buttons), just that I 
would not want to maintain a complex application built that way. :-)
So it falls in that category I mentioned in the elementary graphics thread 
of "making powerful tools easy to use for simple things vs. making it easy 
to do some simple things and that's it". Now, not having seen more of that 
system, it may well do very complex things (and I think the later Logos 
can). Some of this depends on the audience, I guess.

On the other links, what's with these smart people from Finland? Now there 
is someplace that it sounds like you should go to drink the water. :-)
Me, I'm sacrificing some sleep and it will catch up with me. [I have a 
consulting project that might be coming up so I want to get as much done 
as possible before that distracts me, in hopes it might pick up speed on 
its own afterwards if it reaches a "critical mass" point.]

But nothing like an audience to get one motivated. I appreciate your 
interest, and hope at some point you might try the TK version in SVN -- 
though I have not packaged it, so you'd need to check it out with SVN (or 
download each of about twenty files separately, ouch).
I could make a package if that makes it a lot easier though.

The inspector is now live in the world, and you can now save and load 
files with TK widgets. You can even delete the save and load buttons. :-) 
I'm trying to resolve a bug right now related to the prototype delegation; 
I've spent hours trying to trace what is probably some tiny mistake 
somewhere; it is related to copying a TK button and modifying the copy's 
click method and having the first buttons click method still called; so I 
haven't wanted to make a new released version with that problem.  Anyway, 
I'd be curious to read your opinion on whether a TK version would hold 
your interest (or the interest of other educational people) given you 
mention somewhere on your site an interest in moving from tk to wx. If TK 
is good enough for you, I might keep developing with it for a while just 
to see how far it can go (hopefully to the point of a HyperCard like 
thing), since it is, for good or ill, the most cross-platform easy-install 
solution right now for Python GUIs and related graphics. Even wx takes an 
extra set of libraries. (I also think PataPata could make TK a little more 
approachable in some ways. :-)

Then, with a little magic and tinkering, maybe a future Jython version 
could come along to make any future HyperCard-like PataPata stacks into 
applets? It really does not take that long to wrap the basic widgets of a 
system (a suprise for me, as I thought it would), and I already know 
Jython and Swing (my TK was very rusty).

Anyway, I think a TK HyperCard-like system (and eventually raiding the 
PythonCard demos :-) that might be a nice next goal to aim for. Not as 
funky as pyGTK and Cairo and OpenGL, but something I could show ready 
progress on to some point of critical mass.

However, if there are a predominance of "yes" responses to my other post 
about one click Java3D, I might think about moving to Jython and Swing. 
Even though two of my four tests failed, I think they failed due more to 
lack of OpenGL support on one machine than Java WebStart failing, which 
would mean a regular Jython Swing app might run correctly with one click 
more often than not.

Anyway, for now, I am pushing along with TK as these issues percolate and 
I get feedback. Several things I need to do (e.g. making PataPata worlds 
talk to each other so you can have you app in one and the development 
tools in another) have little to do with the GUI anyway.

All the best.

--Paul Fernhout

francois schnell wrote:
> On 03/06/06, Paul D. Fernhout <pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
> Just for feedback, I've just installed PyGTK & GTK+ 2.8 runtime & 
> pyCairo on
> a WinXP box and its really quick: 1 exe for each to double click on.
> http://www.pcpm.ucl.ac.be/~gustin/win32_ports/
> The 3D gtkglext is more difficult for now (I didn't find any exe): => mingw
> , make for win, etc ...
> Maybe for very *motivated* people (under win and mac-intel), a "heavy-gear"
> possibility to be sure that most things are well set-up will be a
> patapata-liveCD (maybe based on something like Morphix - that I might try
> this summer).
> While checking this I've just found out that "pyro" made an apparently nice
> live-CD (with knoppix) :
> http://www.pyrorobotics.org/?page=PyroLiveCD
> Actually I think it would also be useful to have a ~ 
> "PythonWorldEdu-LiveCD"
> with :
> - Python resources  (+ videos)
> - all the educational Python softs possible (patapata, vpython,
> Crunchy-Frog, rur-ple, "gnu-math", pyro, pygeo, pygame, pymol, etc ...)
> - Pyhon and Python bindings apps to make contents with (Blender, Gimp, etc)
> or to play games.
> In fact I'd like something I could show to people and say : all this
> software are done either in Python or you can tinker them with Python
> (bindings)  and if you want to  begin to discover/learn Python all you need
> is the live CD and begin playing with all these.
> Concerning your java options, I don't know if you've seen the Logo TNG Gui
> on OS-X :
> http://education.mit.edu/starlogo-tng/tutorial-videos/
> I'm not a big Java fan but if Java applets could help to bring patapata 
> in a
> browser with some python code background it could be important.
> For Alan Kay the browser is something to reconsider:
> http://www.redhat.com/archives/olpc-software/2006-April/msg00035.html
> (And I would rather be modifying Jython than CPython,
>> since Java is somewhat easier to work with than C.) So, maybe I should
>> think harder about a Jython/Swing version of PataPata (at least as 
>> another
>> proof of concept)?
> Dear me I don't now were you find all this pluridisplinarity and energy !
> I don't know what you eat (or drink) in the morning but I want to order the
> same ;)
> Concerning the different graphical/GUI choices I just don't now enough yet
> to be useful but I'm following with interest your investigations.
> Maybe, If after gathering feedback's you're not sure about the choices to
> make,  I  tend to advise to go with the one you "feel" you will have the
> more fun with :)
> I'm quite convince of that after reading Pekka Himanen book (phD at 20 ...)
> which have also an interesting intro of Torwald about the 3
> (survival,social, and fun) needs :
> http://www.pekkahimanen.org/
> http://www.netvironments.org/ECulture/Module3/HackerEthic/
> francois

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