1. The Sugar Labs Development Team continues to make great progress towards our next release, Sucrose 0.88. Last weekend a "testing day" was held in which most of the new features were exercised. There will be another meeting on Monday (February 22) at which we will be discussing various outstanding details as we approach "string freeze" on March 1. What has been significant in this release cycle has not only been the steady progress we have been making on improving and stabilizing the core Sugar platform, but also the introduction of a more systemic mechanism for proposing, vetting, and implementing new features. While the procedures we have put into place are still in need of fine-tuning, we have seen progress on one key goal—greater involvement from Sugar deployments. Sugar remains a volunteer-run project and thus it is what its community makes of it. Our release process is intended to provide a stable and predictable base from which the community can build. Long-term maintenance and growth will come from our community. A goal for Sucrose 0.90 is to have a well-defined set of features, proposed from downstream, and developed downstream. Sugar, like learning itself, is not something done for it. It is something you do for yourself.
2. Tony Forster, Raúl Gutiérrez Segalés, Michael Stone, and Edward Cherlin have given me detailed feedback on the new Turtle Art. Raúl will be testing it this week in the field and I hope that with that additional feedback to be able to make a final release as part of Fructose 0.88. If you'd like to give it a test drive, please download it from the wiki:
New user-interface features include support for multiple turtles (this enables the learner to engage in many of the types of problems opened up by learning systems such as StarLogo). To facilitate debugging, there is now runtime block highlighting and highlighting of the block that raised an error. Boolean logic is now prefix instead of infix, which makes it consistent with the arithmetic operators and less ambiguous in its visual parsing. Many other UI improvements, a trash palette (with restore), variable-length, editable string blocks, labels on coordinate-grid overlays, etc. were driven by feedback from the field.
We also completed a major refactoring of the code, resulting in a 90% smaller download bundle-size and a faster first-time launch. Our goal here is greatly simplified maintenance, more decentralized localization and easier extension with new blocks and palettes.
3. Sugar on a Stick, Blueberry, is now in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) permanent collection.
In the community
4. Sorry for the last minute notice, but Joy Ventura Riach from One Laptop Per Child's regional center in Africa is organizing Learning Team chats. The first meeting will be on Thursday, February 18, at 10 EST (15 UTC). Join the discussion.
5. Thanks to the efforts of Luke Faraone, Sugar Labs has received some servers donated from the Wikipedia project. They will be deployed in various locations, including RIT, Washington, and Cambridge. Stefan Unterhauser (dogi) is helping in the effort to get the new machines up and running and properly configured to meet our growing needs.