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Pippy Design Idea 2011-03-10


A learner will:

  • review and run included examples,
  • modify included examples, and run them,
  • derive more complex code using included examples,
  • derive more complex code using modules created by teachers or other learner, with or without changing the contributed module,
  • write fresh modules.

A group of learners will do the above, but also:

  • collaborate on a set of modules included in the shared activity instance,
  • run modules locally on each laptop.

A pair of learners may:

  • create one subordinate module each, and concentrate on it,
  • create one master module that imports the two subordinate modules,
  • write unit tests in each subordinate module and run them locally on each laptop,
  • integrate by running the master module.


  • increase code sharing,
  • increase relevance to Python users,
  • increase portability of code written, beyond Pippy and Sugar,


A running Pippy instance will contain the following data:

  • zero or more modules (each module is a python zip bundle, not a sugar bundle),
  • each module will include zero or more source files,
  • each module will include a source file capable of creating the python zip bundle output, but unless the user has asked to edit the, it will not be shown, instead a default will be used, maintained by Pippy,

A shared Pippy will contain the same data as above on each laptop.


Pippy may read from:

  • a saved instance of Pippy, in the journal,
  • a module (python zip bundle) in the journal, (which may have come from a teacher, another learner, or a server),
  • example modules included with Pippy,


Pippy may write to:

  • a saved instance of Pippy, in the journal,
    • (activation of this journal entry: run the Pippy activity and present exactly what was visible at the time the saved instance was created)
  • a module (python zip bundle) in the journal.
    • (activation of this journal entry: run the Pippy activity in an execution only mode that behaves in the same way as the "run" button, displaying a VTE if required, and if not exiting immediately, without creating a journal entry,)


Display will contain:

  • toolbar,
  • a series of tabs, one for each module, an add module button, and an open example module button,
  • within each module, a series of tabs, one for __doc__ that is not editable, one for each source file that is editable, and an add file button,
  • within each file, a syntax highlighting text edit widget.

(the series of tabs encapsulated in another series of tabs is potentially difficult for a learner to comprehend, but an alternative tree view is thought inappropriate because of the horizontal space consumed, and because use of a module should be constrained to the public API of the module).


When run is pressed, display will contain:

  • toolbar,
  • stdout stdin vte,
  • a stop button.


Partial list of changes to bring Pippy existing source to a state consistent with the design above:

  • remove the examples widget from the main screen, provide it only as an "open an example bundle" function,
  • remove the output window from the main screen, provide it only when a program is run, and only if the program generates stdout or reads from stdin,
  • enlarge the program text entry widget to be nearly full screen,
  • encapsulate the program text entry widget in tabs for files in a zip bundle,
  • encapsulate the bundle in tabs for zip bundles loaded into pippy instance,
  • on standard sugar save, save all zip bundles and files in a sugar journal entry,
  • provide an export zip bundle button that creates a sugar journal entry of type zip bundle, for sharing,
  • provide a way to import zip bundles from journal into the current pippy instance, using the object chooser,
  • on execution of a bundle, allow access to all other currently loaded bundles via import, and access to system bundles via import,


  • create a new activity.