Features/Write to journal anytime

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Replacement for the Naming Alert that lets you write to the Journal at any time while working on an activity.


Current status

  • Targeted release: 0.96
  • Last updated: 01.12.2012
  • Percentage of completion: 100%
patch to widgets.py
new icon

Detailed Description

Old Description: The Naming Alert is loved by some and despised by others. This enhancement makes it be available on demand from the activity toolbar Frame instead of automatically imposed when closing an activity. The goal is to encourage more writing and reflection throughout the activity, not just at the end.

New Description: The Naming Alert is loved by some and despised by others. This enhancement replaces it with a mechanism whereby notes can be added to the description field on demand from within an activity. Note that the only other user-midifiable fields in the Extended View of a Journal entry are Title, Tags, and Star (Favorite). (Note that the title has a mechanism for changing it in the toolbar already.) There is a separate proposal for modifying tags. By using the same mechanism as the Alerts, it is non-modal and doesn't interfere with the action of the activity itself. The goal remains to encourage more writing and reflection throughout the activity, not just at the end.

Write to Journal Alert.png

Write to Journal Icon.png

The open questions in my mind are:

  • How is this alert evoked? A dedicated icon (See above) on the Activity toolbar (replacing for example the spot taken by the deprecated Keep button)? or a dedicated key on the keyboard (perhaps the unused Bulletin Board key)? or some other mechanism (such as always appearing when the Activity toolbar is opened)?
  • Should it be the entire entry or just a text field for augmenting the entry?
  • Should it be folded into activity.py for all activities or just a mechanism reserved for activity authors who want this feature?
  • Should it be optional and/or the default behavior?
  • Should there be a separate mechanism for jumping to the Journal entry of an activity? (Again, a possible use of the Bulliten Board key).

Simon's alternative to the Alert mechanism is shown below:


We had a productive discussion that has led to a mashup of the various mock-ups above. New sketches will be available shortly.

First pass re the above discussion (modification of activity/widget.py):

Write to Journal Palette.png

Here is the the text-view version, which shows the entirety of the description field.

Write to Journal Text View.png

Considerations for 0.98 and beyond

Why not add a Write to Journal for taking notes (from the Sugar Frame) as a general utility above and beyond the activity-specific notes???

I imagine a future Sugar having the ability to map the location of the pointer with a software component (much like right clicking in Etoys, or the picker in GNOME 3 Looking Glass) and then having a data model and code to link learner annotations to any active Activity or visible software element. (Container objects could reveal subobjects or respond to subsequent requests.) A 'show annotations' gesture or control would reveal the appropriate content visibly and logically tied to the current view. --FGrose 17:18, 24 January 2012 (EST)

Benefit to Sugar

Being able to write to the Journal at any time is a feature requested both from the field and from pedagogist. And adding this ability would mean that the "annoying" naming alert could be removed as it would be redundant.


The basic functionality is complete. I just made some simple changes to sugar-toolkit/src/sugar/activity/namingalert.py (eliminated the call to activity.close() and changed the button shortcut from Return to <Ctrl>s). We need: (1) a better icon; (2) decide if we want this to be a part of the standard activity toolbar; (3) decide whether the pop-up window or some toolbar widget is a better choice; and (4) eliminate the Name Alert invocation in activity.py.

I decided to implement this by adding write to Journal as a menu option to the activity's Frame instance in the shell. This will mean that we need no modifications to the toolbar, but it also means we need to find a way to notify the shell of the activities's object_id, since currently the shell only tracks activity_ids.

How To Test


  • Install the patch to widget.py
  • Install the icon


  1. Launch any Sugar activity
  2. Open the activity toolbar
  3. Observe whether or not the Write-to-Journal icon is on the toolbar
  4. Click on the Write-to-Journal icon to open the palette
  5. Observe whether or not a palette and text box appear below the icon
  6. Observe whether or not the description metadata is displayed in the text box (if there was no description already written, the text box will be empty)
  7. Type some text into the box
  8. Exit the activity
  9. Open the Detail View of the activity instance in the Journal
  10. Observe whether or not the text entered above is visible in the Description field

User Experience

Users may notice that the Naming Alert is missing and they may notice a new icon on the activity toolbar.


No new dependencies

Contingency Plan

What I have done to date is implement this as an activity button as oppose to integrate it into Sugar. This is a reasonable fall-back if we cannot reach consensus as to a path forward.


See [1]

Release Notes

Write to Journal Text View.png

The Write-to-Journal-Anytime feature facilitates the process of writing notes and making reflections upon the work being conducted in an activity, while the activity is open. A new icon on the Activity Toolbar brings up a palette used to edit the activity Description Field. These notes are stored to the activity metadata, subsequently available for editing and viewing in the Journal and the Portfolio activity.

Comments and Discussion