Activity Team

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The Activity Team develops and maintains many of the activities available for Sugar. We also encourage independent developers to write activities, and we support them in their efforts. Our goal is to ensure that Sugar provides a complete set of high quality educational, collaborative, constructivist activities.

Our responsibilities

  1. Develop and maintain the ecosystem of Sugar activities.
  2. Recruit and mentor activity developers from the community.
  3. Collect, document and organize new activity and activity feature ideas from the Education Team, deployments and community.
  4. Work with the Development Team and the Infrastructure Team to ensure activity developers are well supported.
  5. Gather feedback with the Deployment Team about how Sugar activities are doing in the field.

Tips for Activity Developers

Ask your 'newbie' question on-line

Join IRC channel #sugar (e.g. via web client) and ask your question about activity, or sugar core, development process. Also browse chat logs.

Creating a new activity

See Creating a New Activity and Activity Team Resources.

Automated Testing

See Automated Activity Testing

Problems logging in to Gitorious?

Gitorious users are sometimes having their IP addresses incorrectly blacklisted at If your SSH key is rejected with the error "Access denied or bad repository path", please open a ticket by emailing git AT sugarlabs DOT org.

Port to GTK3

We have hints on porting from GTK2 to GTK3.

Move an activity

We need help moving activities over to Sugar Labs from OLPC's servers. This is a great way to get started helping out the Activity Team. See Activity Team/How_to_migrate_from_OLPC for instructions, and Activity Team/Activity Status for the list of activities that need to be moved.

While moving activities, it would be great to check that the .pot files are up to date and the MANIFEST is correct. This will really help out the distro packagers.

Cross-platform compatibility

As Sugar is integrated into more distros and the hardware base expands, it is important to keep Activity developers informed of any issues they need be aware of. For example, when Sugar was only expected to run on the XO-1 laptop, it was safe to assume that the display was always 1200x900.

The Compatibility Tips page is a place to accumulate tips.

Migrating from GTK2 to GTK3

The Sugar platform is migrating from GTK2 to GTK3 to stay relevant with upstream changes and benefit from their efforts. Sugar 0.96 (available in OLPC 12.1 development builds) includes support for a transition period, where both GTK2 and GTK3 activities can coexists, but new Sugar features will only be added to the GTK3 toolkit (e.g. improvements in touchscreen support). Have a read through the migration notes, and the GTK3 Python tutorials to get a feel for how things need to be changed. New activities should be developed with GTK3, unless you need to support an existing deployment today using an older build.

Modify Activities

A guide has been written describing how to make simple modifications to popular Sugar activities. Examples include adding sounds to TamTam, blocks to TurtleArt, buttons to Calculate, etc.

Remote control your XO

Remote control your XO from your development machine can be handy while developing an activity.


We use gettext to internationalize activities. The basic steps are:

In your Python code:

from gettext import gettext as _

Hence forth, encapsulate strings that you want translated in _():

_('string to be translated')

Run to generate a POT file for your project. This file will contain a reference to all of the encapsulated strings.

From here, you need to:

  1. git add, commit, and push the POT file to git
  2. request that your project be added to the pootle server (by filing a task to the localization component on
  3. add pootle as a committer to your project on gitorious

Once translations are committed to your project:

  1. do a git pull to get a local copy of the .po files
  2. run fix_manifest to create the .mo files used at run time

Details can be found on the Translation Team/i18n Best Practices page.

General overview of git

Read the brief overview below but then start with our


Version Control System — keeps track of changes to a set of files.
the distributed VCS used by Sugar Labs
set of changes to files tracked by a VCS, accompanied by metadata (author, description, etc.)
(usually textual) representation of changes. These are also the names of specific tools used to create/apply these representations of changes.
storage place for commits, usually of a certain piece of software
software for hosting git repositories, including a web interface for administration
server hosted by Sugar Labs running gitorious


(Once per machine you're working on)

git clone git:// whatever

Regular usage

cd whatever

[hack away and test your changes]

git diff

[review your changes, go back to hacking if you notice a mistake]

git status
git add NameOfNewFile # if you created any file you want included
git commit -a

[describe your changes - by convention the first line is a summary and the remaining lines are long description] [start again at hacking if you're offline]

git log origin/master..master # shows you all commits not pushed yet
git push # if/once you are online

Git offers a lot more commands and features that can make your life easier, but it's best to start off small and use only those mentioned above. It's very easy to get confused if you're unfamiliar with git.

Even if you use the more advanced features, git does a pretty good job at allowing you to recover from your mistakes. So if you ever mess up and don't know how to fix it yourself, please stop (at least for me that's usually the hardest part ;) ), try to recollect the exact sequence of actions (e.g. from shell history) and ask for help.

Once you have migrated your project, you may have some more detailed questions regarding how Sugar Labs uses git, particularly in regard to patch management.

Additional background on GitHub

  • James Simmons' book "Make Your Own Sugar Activities!" chapter 11 explains Git for activity developers, it is highly recommended for intermediate and advanced users
  • Anish Mangal explains the git workflow on the Sugar development mailing list


How to become a Maintainer

Please see File:How to become a maintainer.pdf for an overview of the Activity maintenance process.

What to do if a maintainer is absent

Read the Policy for non-responsive maintainers for more details.


Please see the Activity Test-table page for tester information.

Background information

Sugar Activities

There is an Activities page where we highlight Sugar activities in the wiki. (We need to discuss how best to manage the content of this page as well as how to manage the activity-specific sub-pages.)

Sugar Human Interface Guidelines

The Sugar Human Interface Guidelines content has also been migrated to Sugar Labs. This guide is a critical resource when designing activities.

An Activity HIG discussion

Sugar Almanac

The Sugar Almanac content has been migrated to Sugar Labs. It's a great, quick reference when building python Activities.

The Sugar Activity Library is our user-facing portal for Sugar activities. The site uses the back-end Mozilla built for Firefox and Thunderbird extensions at, called Remora. To help out, check out Activity Library.

sugar-widgets library

See Development Team/sugar-port.

sugar-sprites library

See Activity Team/Sugar-sprites


Mime types and file suffixes

You can associate your activity with mime types by including a mime_types entry in the activity/ file; e.g.

mime_types = text/plain;text/x-python;text/x-logo;text/x-svg;application/xml;text/html;text/xml;image/svg+xml

You can associate your activity with a file suffix by including a mimetypes.xml file in your activity subdirectory:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<mime-info xmlns="">
   <mime-type type="application/x-turtle-art">
      <comment xml:lang="en">Turtle Art</comment>
      <glob pattern="*.ta"/>

Note: You cannot just copy your activity into the ~/Activities directory. You have to install it as a .xo bundle or using ' install' (note that the latter is tricky as the command might get your paths messed up). This installation step will create a file --> ~/.local/share/mime/packages/<your-bundle_id>.xml

If your activity does not register any mimetype, then it won't matter.

If your activity was already properly installed (with sugar-install-bundle), then copying new source into Activities will not be affected by this problem unless the new source registers a new mimetype that the old source did not.

Activity Team users on

Fake emails to identify users:

  • activities that are supported by Activity Team
  • trash@dev.null activities to remove

There is a handy utility that is a standard part of Sugar Activity bundles, You should use it to create and update POT files, generate a MANIFEST file and update locale files, and create .xo and .tar files for distribution.

./ genpot        # generates or updates the POT file used by gettext for internationalization
./ build
./ fix_manifest  # updates the MANIFEST file and generates or updates the locale files used for internationalization
./ dist_xo       # creates an .xo bundle from your project
./ dist_source   # creates a .tar.gz file from your project

Packaging activities discussion

We are currently discussing how to package activities in the future, in order to support all distributions. Please add your comments to the following pages.

  • Packaging
    • should we remove "Activities" section from that page; all issues where moved to Activity_Status page alsroot 10:33, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Packaging ideas

The Sugar Control Panel

While not strictly in the realm of Activities, it may be useful on occasion to add a section to the Sugar Control Panel. Things to keep in mind.

A typical update cycle

Anyone can contribute a patch to a Sugar Activity. The typical work cycle involves an interaction with the activity (project) maintainer as follows:

  1. make a clone (anyone)
  2. make your changes (anyone)
  3. mail your patch to sugar_devel (anyone)
  4. make changes as per suggestions by the project maintainer and developer community (anyone)
  5. push your changes (anyone)
  6. request a merge (anyone)
  7. write release notes (anyone)
  8. tag the new version in git (project maintainer)
  9. create the .xo and .tar files (project maintainer)
  10. upload .tar to (project maintainer)
  11. upload .xo to (project maintainer)
  12. update wiki documentation (anyone)

OLPC XO game buttons

The game buttons on the OLPC XO are accessible:

  • The left-side buttons map to KP_Up, KP_Right, KP_Down, and KP_Left
  • The right-side buttons map to KP_Page_Up (o), KP_End (✓), KP_Page_Down (×), and KP_Home (◽)

The Sugar Object Chooser

The Object Chooser is the activity-level user interface to the Journal. Examples and caveats are found here.

Project Ideas

The Activity Team always needs project ideas and suggestions. Post your ideas to Activity Team/Project Ideas.

If you see something here you would like to help with, please contact us.

Wade 17:19, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

Additional resources

Additional resources may be found here.

Sugar Activity development courses

There are university- and secondary-school-level courses being taught around Sugar development. Several of the syllabi are on line:


Please check /Meetings for meeting schedules/logs.

Moving to Sugar Labs

A few notes re moving to the Sugar Labs infrastructure:

  • use git init to create a new project unless it already exists.
  • use dist_source to make the source package associated with your project.
  • source packages now go in:
from there, if your project (if it is an Activity) probably belongs in the honey subdirectory, e.g.,
If your project is part of the Sugar core, it goes in sucrose/fructose/ (for core Activities) or sucrose/glucose (for core modules), e.g.,
  • don't forget to update addons as well!!
  • and to copy the tar file to