[Edu-sig] PySqueak: more on the cultural divide among paradigms

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sat May 6 23:35:07 CEST 2006

> Everybody is talking about a new 3D GUI and IDE.  What exactly are we
> trying to achieve by building a new GUI?  What is wrong with existing
> Windows/X/Mac GUIs for an educational project?  If we were talking
> about UI research then developing a new GUI system might be
> interesting, but for educational purposes, it seems like we have
> enough to do to achieve educational goals, without trying to
> redevelop a GUI system.
> -Winston

I think your questions are on the money.  If you've seen one of
Miguel's demos of the new Novell desktop, you'll know we're already
moving to more 3D motifs at the level of OS GUI, complete with the
rotating cube between the six desktops, with a Quicktime movie able to
wrap around an edge while still playing (flashing back to an OSCON).

I think we'd like to be able to call up a writing surface, able to
take source code, from within a 3D world, such as by unscrolling a
canvas-like object plucked from a metallic tube, textures and
everything.  And as we've seen in Squeak, when every graphical type
object has a strong shared set of base methods, then even buttons can
be grabbed and tilted (not just depressed).

Per recent Mono or .NET presentations of IronPython:  so you want
every button on your GUI calculator rotated counter-clockwise by 45
degrees?  No problem.  That's just the trend in GUIs these days, with
GNOME very much a trailblazer (wow, svg screen icons!).

So the engines I'm envisioning at some level might just be the next
generation OSs of choice, and their accompanying GUI session managers.
 If sufficiently integrated and interoperable (we have a ways to go),
we might call this Squeaky clean. Think Emacs = eToy.

But I don't think we can stop there.  More specialized apps, on top of
the OSs, will provide their own vocabulary of 3D components (objects),
be they widget type, animal type, or whatever.  You'll be able to
script their behaviors and interactions, oft times by typing, as the
base source continues to be lexical (versus say hieroglyphic, which
more characterizes the desktop icons level).

Such applications entail an event model, lots of hooks, and mechanisms
for persistence across sessions.  The OS offers an API for all of
this, yes, but not always at a high enough level. By design.  Managing
some "higher level" is not really the OS's job.

A layer of "education applications" wrapped around various spatial
geometry animation engines is reasonable to anticipate, plus I expect
many of them will come with Python bindings, although not necessarily
exclusively (any number of languages should be enabled to play, by
giving them some shared target language -- precisely the intent of the
.NET design, and Parrot's).


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