[etoys-dev] [GSoC ideas] Squeak: General collaboration support for Etoys

Bert Freudenberg bert at freudenbergs.de
Wed Feb 19 04:40:12 EST 2014

Etoys [1] is pre-installed on millions of OLPC XO-Laptops worldwide [2]. Running under Sugar [3] (the XO's Linux-based UI) it provides collaboration support for class rooms: students can send scripted objects to each other to easily combine their work.

In a non-Sugar system (Mac, Windows, regular Linux) this collaboration support is not readily available. The code is there, but to use it students would have to manually enter IP addresses, because the discovery protocol relies on Sugar's "presence service".

To a user this should look very simple: She pops up a window which lists all the other Etoys users nearby, so she can choose one to connect to. Then the two can exchange messages and objects. The latter part is already there, what is needed is the discovery of other users.

The task would be to make the collaboration work on a wider range of systems. One approach would be using the Telepathy framework [4] which is underlying Sugar's presence service (and in fact this would help Sugar, since they have phased out the PS and are using Telepathy directly). This should work easily under Linux, and might be portable to other platforms. Another advantage of this approach would be that Sugar users can collaborate with non-Sugar users, and across network boundaries (NAT etc).

Alternatively, a simple broadcast-based protocol could be created. The advantage would be that it would work identically on all platforms and not require system support. It may, however, be less robust and general than what Telepathy provides. It might also interfere with other network services. Also, collaboration between Sugar- and non-Sugar users might be problematic. The simplicity of this approach may outweigh the disadvantages, though.

Level: medium to advanced depending on approach

Skills: Smalltalk, Networking (plus DBus and cross-platform development if using Telepathy)

Mentor: Bert Freudenberg <bert at freudenbergs.de>

[1] http://squeakland.org/
[2] http://laptop.org/
[3] http://sugarlabs.org/
[4] http://telepathy.freedesktop.org/
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