tool elitism

Carlos Nazareno object404 at
Mon Apr 12 16:59:10 EDT 2010

>>And shiny distracts.

Then write an app that's not shiny. Can you please get over your gut
revulsion? I have the same reaction to Macs.

>    >> has a free-open-source IDE (FlashDevelop) from a community,
>    > does this run on the XO?
> Nope.  We're to believe that Flash is appropriate for constructionism
> on the XO even though it doesn't allow XO users to construct anything.

Yes it does. All you need is any text editor to write AS3 code + the
basic MXML container, JRE, Flex SDK, and a command line. It's the
exact same thing as Java development except you substitute JRE + Flex
SDK for JDK.

You don't need Flashdevelop. It's just an AS editor with
auto-complete, project management & compiler linking. It doesn't run
on Linux because it was built with .NET.

All you need is the above, GIMP for images, then Audacity and a
microphone for sound.

I don't see how the process is any less different or how it's evil
given the fact that it's the exact same situation as back in '97 when
they made the switch from C to Java as initial medium of instruction
at our university. (yeah yeah, lazy kids these days don't know how to
do malloc, linked lists, blah blah blah)

Anyway, feel free to ask me technical questions on toolsets needed,
workflow, etc. Be warned though, that I'm mostly a windows user and
mostly dip into Ubuntu (If I could just run all my worktools and games
in there, I'd have already fully migrated from XP). (I find Fedora to
be too bloated for my taste... 4GB of hard disk space default for
Werewolf? Bah.)

Ok, changing topics now.

I suppose most of you guys have heard by now what Steve Jobs did last Thursday.

For those of  you who haven't, Apple released the iPhone OS 4 beta SDK
which featured the new developer terms of service in the now infamous
Section 3.3.1:

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner
prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs.
Applications must be ORIGINALLY written in Objective-C, C, C++, or
JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code
written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link
against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to
Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility
layer or tool are prohibited).

Essentially developers are no longer allowed to choose 3rd-party tools
they are comfortable with and only apps developed with tools approved
by Apple are allowed on the iPhone App Store. Affected by this are
Novell's Monotouch (C#/.NET to iPhone), Ansca Mobile Corona (LUA to
iPhone), Flash CS5 (AS3 to iPhone), Unity3D, Appcelerator Titanium.

I won't go into it in-depth here, if anyone's interested just Google
around. I'm also writing an article about it and if anyone's
interested, I'll share the link once it's up.

Please give this letter from Corey Johnson a read:

Now change Objective-C to Python.
"Objective-C is not a filter for crappy apps, it's not the magical
ingredient for an amazing app, it is just a tool. Have faith in
developers again, don't shackle us to a single tool, let us decide
which language fits our needs best."

Okay. My question is, aside from the fact that you need to shell out
cash to do iPhone dev and that both apple and developers are doing it
for the money, what now differentiates OLPC/Sugar from the iPhone?
Isn't that also a form of walled-garden lock-in?

What I'm saying is that there's an army of us out there who can be
willing to volunteer and dev for the XO. However, a lot of us don't
have the luxury to learn Python/Sugarization or maybe just work best
with the tools we're comfortable with. Most of us are Windows users
too. Can't we volunteer to develop content for the OLPC with our tools
if they can run decently and play well?

I can't believe I'm saying this (shudder), but aside from Flash, why
not also look into Moonlight and maybe ask Microsoft for help getting
it running well so that C#,VB & .NET coders can also contribute
content for the XO?

***cue gasps of horror and disbelief from entire room***

*awkward silence*

Uh... I'm also very fond of Processing. It runs okay for me on the
XO-1, just a bit slow and the obvious problem with Sugar since
processing is generally multi-window.

Okay, kidding aside, what's the point of developing hardware and
software for OLPC anyway? Aren't these just delivery mechanisms for
educational content? What do kids and teachers care what computer
language they're written in anyway as long as they work well on their
machines and play nice?

Look. I'm really serious here.
What if there are thousands of us out there who want to develop
content for OLPC, but just can't because it's Python/Sugar?

And what's so evil with free as in beer if there's no ulterior motive
to raise a generation of locked-in consumers behind it? (sure MS could
benefit. Sure Adobe could benefit. Can you blame them if they make
great tools that allow content creators to express themselves better?)

There's an old saying that goes "beggars can't be choosers."
Why refuse our help? We're here. We want to help. We know you need help.

I'm also being pragmatic. Not all the schools in my country will be
using XOs. If we develop content that's cross-platform, we can target
other platforms like Mac & Windows too. It's a good investment.

Also just because a kid can look at the sourcecode of an app doesn't
immediately make it constructivist. That doesn't mean squat if the kid
understand the code. Just because a kid can't look under the hood of
an app also doesn't immediately mean it's not constructivist. Ever
hear of the term inspiration & curiosity? (how do I replicate that
Flash game in Pygame! :D) Don't just teach the kid syntax. Also teach
the kid algorithms.
I'll write a separate post about this.

Look, I'm also tired of Linux users being treated like second class
citizens, having to make do with home-made stuff and ignored by
commercial product developers. I'm sorry to be blunt, but honestly, a
lot of non-dev apps for Linux are rather mediocre compared to other

Don't you think the kids using the XOs will feel less like 2nd class
citizen charity cases if they can access the exact same content their
more affluent Mac & PC-using peers are?
If we can make the process of creating content for the XO or porting
of existing content trivial so that it becomes an actual target
platform, don't you guys think that's a good thing?

I hope I haven't offended anyone. I really hope you guys see what I'm
trying to say because OLPC needs all the help it can get (and you
don't need to compromise your principles). I'm sorry to be blunt, but
OLPC has already jaded and alienated a lot of supporters (just read
Slashdot, the largest nerd army in the world). By creating additional
avenues for developers to contribute, I hope we can revive and
increase interest for volunteers.


carlos nazareno
interactive media specialist
zen graffiti studios
"if you don't like the way the world is running,
then change it instead of just complaining."

More information about the Devel mailing list