[etoys-dev] Etoys in Javascript

Steve Thomas sthomas1 at gosargon.com
Sat May 25 01:06:20 EDT 2013

So following up on Alan's quote:

"Better" and "Perfect" are the enemies of "What Is Needed"

Let me voice one opinion on what is needed:

   1. The ability to run in a Browser
   2. The ability to run on Mobile Devices (IPhone/Android)
      1. How many more kids would be turned onto Etoys (and more
      importantly the ideas they could explore an learn using Etoys) if they
      could in a matter of an hour create a iPhone/Android app?
   3. The ability to run on Tablets (iPad/Android Tablet)
   4. The ability to run without an Internet connection
      1. I am thinking about XO deployments and schools with Internet
      2. Also the ability to run from  USB would be great (I love Etoys to
   5. The ability to run ~97% of existing Etoys projects
      1. My guess is the vast majority of  Etoys projects do not use a lot
      of the features of Etoys
      2. We could run the utility Bert created for me a while back to
      determine which Scripting tiles (and object?) are in a project to scan
      through the Etoys Illinois projects and get an idea on what would be the
      "basics" to start with.  I can help with that (the scripting anyway) if
      3. I wouldn't mind a tool to "convert" existing Etoys projects to
      "Javascript Etoys" projects.  We could run a converter and provide both
      versions in a single click from the Etoys Illinois site and also to allow
      folks to convert their existing projects.
      4. Books and Playfields are one addition I can think
      of immediately that would be needed
      5. Only concern would be Kedama, I would hate to lose that.

Some thoughts on the enemies of "Better" and "Perfect"

   1. Authoring Always On
      1. Better/Perfect yes, Realistic and Needed on the screensize of an
      iPhone/Android, hmmm
      2. We can probably get a "runnable" version of Etoys (ie: no getting
      Halos or scripting) on iPhone/Android a lot faster than a "Authoring On"
      version that would frustrate all but those with the smallest fingers, pin
      point dexterity and the patience and perseverance of of a Saint.
      3. By what date do we realistically expect Apple to "see the light"
      and allow authoring on version of Etoys?
   2. We need a Good design for a Touch Interface
      1. Agreed, but how long will this take, do we need to wait for this
      to deploy a runnable version on iPhone/iPad/Android. Still we
would need a
      "Touch interface" to work for "non authoring" gestures. (I obviously need
      to think about this more)

Build on top of Snap or Lively or ??? (like most things I am NOT an expert
here, but that never stopped me from thinking about it and voicing my
opinion :)
Both Snap and Lively Kernel run on my Android, but both had issues which
would need to be addressed.  The one thing I like about Lively (and perhaps
this could be added to Snap) is the ability to add Java Script to do what
you wanted.  This is a nice feature and would guess would attract more

I really like the scripting tile interface in Scratch/BYOB (colore tiles,
tile shapes, snap-a-bility and flaps) as compared to the scripting tiles
and viewers in Etoys.


On Fri, May 24, 2013 at 4:43 PM, Harness, Kathleen <kharness at illinois.edu>wrote:

> Jecel,
> 97%, sounds good to me. There are early projects from 7 or 8 years ago
> that are not as well done as the later ones. As I became a better teacher,
> so too did my student's projects.
> I do not understand all the steps a visitor to our site would need to take
> to get one of those projects to open. The fewer steps the better, the fewer
> roadblock hurdles to get over the better especially for young children or
> cautious adult beginners.
> Have a good weekend, it is sunny and cool here.
> Regards,
> Kathleen
> ________________________________________
> From: etoys-dev-bounces at squeakland.org [etoys-dev-bounces at squeakland.org]
> on behalf of Jecel Assumpcao Jr. [jecel at merlintec.com]
> Sent: Friday, May 24, 2013 2:37 PM
> To: etoys-dev at squeakland.org dev
> Subject: Re: [etoys-dev] Etoys in Javascript
> Kathleen Harness wrote:
> > > Let's keep "compatibility with current projects" at the top of our
> requirements
> > > for the changes to Etoys being considered here.
> I fully agree with that priority. Note that we were talking about a
> completely new Etoys and not a changed one. I was just trying to make
> clear what the cost of the different options are.
> > > I know Bert mentioned this recently and I am very grateful that he
> values what
> > > we have been doing here in Illinois.
> > >
> > > If the library collection of projects on EtoysIllinois will not run in
> Etoys it would
> > > be the end of us. We can not meet again with the hundreds of students
> who
> > > made those projects.
> > >
> > > The example projects and lesson materials were developed in classrooms
> and
> > > reflect years of experimentation with project ideas that make
> programming
> > > relevant to young children's interests and knowledge.
> Yes, that is far more important than any specific Etoys feature in my
> opinion as well. In the Squeak community, after Edgar De Cleene it is
> likely that I have been the most vocal about keeping old stuff working.
> Bert Freudenberg wrote:
> > would converting the projects be okay? Meaning, suppose the "Javascript
> Etoys"
> > couldn't read the old project files directly, but there was a way to
> export a project
> > from Squeak Etoys into another file that could be imported by Javascript
> Etoys,
> > would that be sufficient?
> That sounds like an interesting plan. I had only though about putting
> all of the conversion work in the new system, but it is true that some
> things are easier to do inside the original system. It might be the case
> that getting 100% of the projects converted is really hard but 97% is
> reasonably easy. It would be a good idea to find out, specially if the
> 3% turn out not to be among the most important projects.
> -- Jecel
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To some of us, writing computer programs is a fascinating game. A program
is a building of thought. It is costless to build, weightless, growing
easily under our typing hands. If we get carried away, its size and
complexity will grow out of control, confusing even the one who created it.
This is the main problem of programming. It is why so much of today's
software tends to crash, fail, screw up.

When a program works, it is beautiful. The art of programming is the skill
of controlling complexity. The great program is subdued, made simple in its

- Martin Harverbeke (from Eloquent
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