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What Croquet Needs and Why
Last updated at 1:06 am UTC on 17 January 2006
My suggested improvements for Croquet.

Also: Needs from Squeak for the academic community listed on the SqueakFest Swiki.

7-Jan-2004 dgc
In the same vein as "continuous quality improvement", I'd recommend that you have a built-in, commonly shared over the Internet, 2D Croquet portal where testers can leave their bug-reports, suggestions, and/or impressions. Nothing complex.

The list of "how do I do..." type comments will render many insights into others' cognitive workings including how peoples' reasonings differ from each other. The resulting record will provide good raw material for analysis to put into research papers as well as Croquet improvements. Just make sure the portal also invites and encourages the user to also explain at minimum:

From a user's perspective, I believe some rules of thumb for the interface that the user manipulates to create user-content for the education of others or the education of oneself:

I also imagine that the avatar should be able to carry that tester's_results_portal around for spur_of_the_moment notes or even a diary. (Should one call it an "avatar pocket PDA"?) This also might encourage others to help Croquet be more self documenting by lowering the "documentation author" bar.

Some time later, maybe, allow for the attachment of camera-bookmarks, screenshots, dynamic-linked class name, or a sample collection of whatever is suspect so that effects of a problem are preserved for further analysis in the submissions to the "tester's results" portal.

8-Oct-2003 dgc
The open source Blender3D project has been improving its 3D content development environment's GUI for extreme workflow and approachability for beginners.

Your can read a summary of their efforts here:
They reference Jef Raskin's UI theorems:
Many of their problems & solutions should match Croquet's GUI needs.

I have been contemplating (for a couple years) how a GUI for children, teachers, and parents would look and function. I too share Alan's "anticipation of a true Omniuser scripting system someday" as he mentioned on the squeak-dev list last May http://lists.squeakfoundation.org/pipermail/squeak-dev/2003-May/057781.html.

I've been contemplating how to simplify navigation of the entire e-toy workspace world. I've also been contemplating how to address Alan's 3 points where e-toys get awkward:
(a) "building expressions ... with more than the simplest linear concatenations."
(b) "the constant changing back and forth from one viewer to another"
(c) "the difficulties of making changes in tile-based scripts."

This page lists the cognitive/social principles we're all trying to address while still creating a rich, robust, and enjoyable learning/play environment for our children.

Über UI

The solution I have in mind draws from
I know several of these are already incorporated into Tweak & Jive. What I suggest is that one could/should combine the least common denominator of all these into one consistent, fast, robust metaphor and user experience for manipulating expressions and text. (2D & 3D graphics would be handled as on a different, full-screen, alpha-blended view plain.) In a phrase, combine all the AlignmentMorphs of all the morphs visible in the World into one single set of nested Alignment Morphs. This set of AlignmentMorphs would adjust to what the user wants, needs, requests, to see. This would be just the visible part of a mental-map/mental-metaphor of an all encompassing (mythical) HierarchicalCollapsibleAlignmentMorph.

This overarching arrangement would simplify how a student, teacher, or parent searches for, and references, any content in the e-toy (and even Squeak) application's world/environment.

Cognitive & Social Principles