[Etoys] Some comments on the olpc Etoys (interface)

Eduardo Silva jobezone at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 28 13:06:16 EDT 2007

I downloaded the image of Etoys from
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Etoys the other day, and
have played with it a bit. I used it looking for
things that didn't feel right to me. So I jotted down
some notes, and here they are :

In various parts of Etoys, there is balloon help,
which is really nice, especially the programming
tiles. But I think the balloon help for the
is many times is too verbose. 

The Sugar-like top bar:

New Project Button -> balloon text should only say
"New Project" instead of "Start a new project"

Save Project icon -> balloon text should say "Save a
Project. Hold down button to reveal additional
options" . Take away the "Click here to", and "Hold
down _this_ button". In both cases the kid knows
it is a clickable button (all activities have
clickable buttons on top), and which button the
balloon text is referring to (the one bellow his
cursor). This looks like how people used web links
many years ago, "click _this link_ to go to my
Find Project icon -> "Find a Project. Hold down
to reveal additional options".
Undo icon - When I click it once, it undoes, then I
click it again, and it Re-does? There should exist
Redo button next to this one instead.
Flags icon -> "Change Language"
Neighbourhood and Close icons -> I thought these
in the top frame. Or will etoys replicate the
And the neighbourhood is way verbose. If the look
the badges are that unobvious that their function
should be detailed here, then they probably need
improvement? But won't they be XO icons with the
friends colors. If so, kids by then will now what
mean. And extra help like "drag objects to give to
your friend" could be in the badges themselves.

Display icon -> "Select Display Mode", but not sure.

For the interface, the text doesn't have to explain
detail every button's function, because most of them
are not destructive, and so through experimenting
will work them out.

There's a bit more!

I've noticed that when you create a new window, its
thumbnail is colored, then when you go inside, the
background is gray, and then out and it remains

Having multi-colored backgrounds for new Etoys
projects was something that I found nice in the
and even made the environment fun too look at. It
would probably be the same for kids. If the problem
contrast, then couldn't you choose less saturated
colors, so they became light green, light

The color picker to choose a project's world color
very small and different than all the other windows
(the button to "pin" the window is tiny, for

I think trash should be present in new Projects.

When you colapse a morph with the circle halo, it
stays collapsed on top of the sugar bar, and uses
different button icons.

In the script windows, there are two buttons which
show some repeated tiles, the chest button and the
menu button. The ones they repeat are:
Self title, random number title, button down?,
up?, repeat title.

The chest icon doesn't follow the style of the

Also, in the Object Catalog, in the Scripting
there is repeat, button up? and button down? 

Finally, It would be really handy if there was a
button which sent to the trash all of the method
scattered on the "desktop". While I'm doing a
project/etoy, it becomes tiresome to have to allways
them, so I just drop them anywhere out of the way and
continue my thing.
After a while I have a big mess of tiles on screen. I
think kids may also behave like this in the beginning,
when they are just messing with and trying new tiles
(exploring?). But perhaps the Button tiles and
"values" tiles could stay.


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