Collaborative Activity Development

John Gilmore gnu at
Mon Apr 14 16:02:54 EDT 2008

"Morgan Collett" <morgan.collett at> wrote:
> I'm now working for OLPC, on improving activity collaboration.

This is great!

The best thing OLPC could do to improve activity collaboration is to
get it working for ordinary programs -- running on the X Window
System, or on MacOSX, or Windows.  Why doesn't AbiWord already
collaborate with Write?  Why doesn't Firefox collaborate with Browse?
It's the same code base.

Tying collaboration to Sugar is a losing strategy.  Once the rest of
the world figures out that *their* programs should be trivial to
collaborate in too, they'll reimplement collaboration (likely in an
incompatible way).  Then Sugar's collaboration will be an orphan
rather than the mainstream.  Instead, if OLPC's collaboration code
supported cross-platform collaboration, OLPC's model and its
implementing code would spread throughout the whole computing
infrastructure.  And that would bring in a new pile of contributors,
enhancing, debugging, and porting it everywhere.

Easy collaboration is one of OLPC's key advantages over its
competition.  Making that a reality for all the kids (and adults) in
the world requires a broader vision.  Merely debugging what makes
Sugar apps fail to collaborate under load, or getting a few more Sugar
authors to add collaboration, won't suffice.


PS:  If there is a simple way to install a couple of RPM's or DEB's, add
a paragraph of code and a few automake macros, and add collaboration
to any program written in C or C++, then please document it!  (If on
the other hand "it only works in Python" and "requires sugar-jhbuild"
then there's some work to be done.)

PPS:  This review of AbiWord says:

  The new AbiWord supposedly offers real-time document collaboration
  developed for the OLPC project and implemented by means of an
  experimental plugin. As per the AbiWord-2.6 release notes, there are
  three implementations of the plugin, one for the OLPC, and two (an
  XMPP-based one and a pure TCP/IP one) for Linux. The Linux plugins
  compiled without any issues, but AbiWord couldn't activate them. The
  plugin isn't currently available for Windows.

  [ says the Windows plugin is available on 2.6.2 now.  But
  I never did find the collab plugin, nor any documentation for it.  The
  2.6.0 release notes imply that the three available collab plugins can't
  actually interoperate with each other!]

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