I'm a beginner who has never used Squeak. Please Help.

Alan Kay Alan.Kay at squeakland.org
Wed Oct 17 13:18:33 UTC 2001

GJ --

At 12:54 PM +0200 10/17/01, G.J.Tielemans at dinkel.utwente.nl wrote:
>In the Tamika tutorial on http://squeakland.org:8080/super/200
>you refer to recent Squeakland tutorials.
>You use a normal(read: elegant eToy) Swiki.
>Are you shifting away from the build-in tutorials of Squeakland
>in favor of democratic swiki-editing? (please say yes..)

Not exactly. But I've been wanting to have dual tutorials (html *and* 
in Squeak) for a lot of the etoy stuff -- if only to make it easier 
for folks who are trying to understand what we are doing. This time I 
decided to do the html versions first, and then do the Squeak version.

It's not a trivial decision. The Swiki version takes *much much* 
longer to do than directly in Squeak where it is WYSIWYG and there is 
no need to upload anything but the final result. Also, the tutorial 
can be much more integrated with the hands-on experimentation.

I think there is a Squeak to html converted done by the GaTech folks, 
and that might be helpful -- OTOH, one just tries to do more in 
Squeak than in the swiki, so I'm not sure how frustrating this would 

OYAH, I believe that we have not yet found a great format and scheme 
for the in-Squeak tutorials. We've tried lots of ways, including 
active essays, in flaps, in windows, in panels at bottom of screen, 
in sequential balloons, in various kinds of bookmorphs, etc. I want 
something that gives as much of the screen area as possible to the 
user, but is also able to be timely and informative about what should 
be done next.

>In that case it is maybe interesting for the Swiki-people
>to create a form for a swiki-tutorial-page:
>- On the left side a scrollable swiki-textbox with pictures
>- On the right a Squeak-plugin-field
>- locking of the page must stay possible for the tutorial creator
>- delivering comments in the tutorial by users should be easy
>- someone should handle these comments and collect on an attached(?) Q&A
>- On the help page a button to create a tutorialpage.
>  (like new on the survey-page of Jochen)

If there is to be a Squeak plugin involved, then all can easily be 
done in Squeak (like the Drive-A-Car tutorial on Squeakland). It uses 
just this format. I think a lot of folks on the Squeak list have 
missed the analogy between "Publish" on the navbar and "Save" in the 
swiki. If you get a project from the net and make a change in it, 
then you can just hit publish, and it will go back to the server it 
came from as a new version -- just like the swiki page. But it's all 
WYSIWYG. The ProjectViews hold URLs, etc.

>Another format example could be your active essay.
>(a textbox with the possibilty to paste more the one project screen
>on the right. (I saw several years ago an example at MIT:
>A living book of the game of life. reading the story the game of life
>boxes on the right became more and more complex under the hood,
>but did not distract the reader.)

Yes, Brian Silverman and Mitchel Resnick adopted the active essay 
form from some of the ones that Ted Kaehler built. And these work 
pretty well.
      The CMU Alice folks have an interesting wrinkle in their 
tutorials: they start off each section, not with the results of what 
the user did, but with what the user should have done. This way they 
absolutely know the state of the world at the start of each phase 
(not knowing the state in the middle of a long tutorial makes life 
hard for everyone). We have bent over backwards to keep the enduser's 
state, but if they drift, then all are in trouble. We really need a 
simple AI that can guide the enduser back and reconverge with the 
project plan.




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