The picture above has nothing to do with sugar, or about this blogpost for that matter, but it is a picture of the Capuchini Bone Chapel. Clicky the linky for some serious D&D-meets-real-life Dungeon badness. It’s just…… words fail me.
Instead, I’m going to write about this:
That’s the interface to the OLPC, the One Laptop per Child green-and-cute-as-buttons laptop that’s been filling the news and slowly becoming reality for the last couple of years.
Many thanks go to jani for these packages which will install Sugar into your Ubuntu Gutsy system all ready to go. Just type sugar-emulator to fire it up inside GNOME, or use it as your window manager from the gdm login screen. There’s packages for Ubuntu Hardy too, if you are at the cutting edge.
While there’s a load of talk about the laptop, it’s the interface itself which interests me. So, I got it. No, not the laptop (silly), but Sugar, the interface/window manager that’s the brains behind the whole thing.
Y’see, Sugar is different to pretty much every other way of working out there.
For a start, the designers forgot everything they knew about UI design, and started from scratch. This means that instead of copying the usual application-centric (ie, Windows-derived) or document-centric (Mac-derived) paradigms, they went for a collaboration-based concept. Anything can be done privately, or working on in groups. Everything is designed to work collaboratively, including Write, the built-in word processor. As the OLPL is design to be child friendly and as language neutral as possible, it’s almost entirely icon driven with text only appearing in you hover over the icons.
Also, apps are full screen with a (chunky) control bar at the top of the screen. The rest of the interface appears if you move the mouse pointer in the corners or press a key combo. This mean the UI itself is very unobtrusive – just as it should be. It’s as close to an iPod window manager as you can get. I kid you not.
In other words, it’s a slick, clean interface and completely non-intimidating. It’s perfect for children and less technologically inclined folks. Ie, 90% of the population.
If you think all that lacks a certain bling, here’s a mockup of Sugar for grown-ups. I feel the lust. Really, I do.