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2003/01/20 - Bruno Coudoin, Raphael Hertzog & Hilaire Fernandes

Education track common interview

An interview conducted by Alain Buret
Alain Buret - The Debian-Edu project collaborates with the Ofset project. How do you interact, who decide what to do ?

Raphael Hertzog - Hilaire Fernandez (who is behind Ofset) is a friend of mine and he naturally joined the DebianEdu project when I launched it. :-)
We interact with the mailing list which is open and publicly archived.

Bruno Coudoin - Hilaire, can you answer here ?

Hilaire Fernandes - The Debian-Edu project is just starting and is not yet formal interaction with us. However we are interested to get our software quickly packaged into Debian so they can be available to the Debian-Edu. As far as I am concerned I am in the process to maintain the Debian package of DrGenius.

Alain Buret - There are plenty of education oriented projects : your's, KDE, ... Do you think it's a good thing to have so many different projects ?

Bruno Coudoin - No, I'd like to see more project of the kind, it means that there is a need. Of course is people prefer to develop to improve gcompris, it is best ;) but there is no one size fit all, everybody can bring his value to edu software. For gcompris, the number of activities is endless, for example, we have a canal lock exerciser, but many other concept of the kind could be coded like the weather cycle, an explosion engine, ... to some extend, we create some kind of a dynamic encyclopedia.

Raphael Hertzog - Not all projects have the same objectives... However DebianEdu clearly wants to federate the effort of :
- selecting and packaging the best education related software
- improving them (translation, ...)
- documenting their use in teaching

Hilaire Fernandes - It really depends on the nature of the projects :-)

As you mention KDE, the kde-edu team - as far as I understand the project - want to develop a set of education oriented applications which are consistent with the KDE desktop. Indeed this is a very valuable task because one of the big issue with the GNU desktop is the lack of consistency in the user interface (* see end of interview). However these UI consistency problems will probably stick to the skin of the GNU desktop. For whatever reason, one developer may want to use the X
toolkit and another one the Y toolkit. There is no unity in the Desktop; KDE, Gnome, wxWindows, (etc.) desktop/toolkits will last.
Therefore the kde-team task is as the Sisyphe one, they will never finish porting or recoding existing edu oriented applications to KDE. And there are very good one out there which required more specific knowledge than using a given widget... Still in the user field, what Red Hat is doing with the Gnome & KDE desktop is about consistency, however this is just cosmetic as the underground applications are not consistent.

Hopefully some software as the Bruno Coudoin Gcompris should not need to be ported to KDE or whatever widget thanks to the user interface design of Gcompris which is very specific to kid and use only plain graphic widget.

At OFSET, we think we should not focus on the widget or the desktop but instead we should be innovative and develop original software for the education sector. So it is more about innovating instead of replicating and adapting to get a consistent desktop.

Probably one level of cooperation with other edu oriented project could be to avoid software duplication. Hum! Probably more easy to say than to achieve. (remember the MUA software development fever?)

Alain Buret - Do you interact with other educative projects ?

Bruno Coudoin - No.

Raphael Hertzog - Yes, I try to have representatives of each other educative project within DebianEdu so that we can effectively share our experiences and our work. DebianEdu is also part of Schoolforge.

Hilaire Fernandes - With AbulEdu, we are providing our GCompris and Dr.Genius software.

This project is very close to the end users - teachers and students. Therefore, we hope AbulEdu can work as a channel between the end users and the OFSET developers.

Also as I said before I provide support and training to the local school using the AbulEdu solution.

I think this is the only project - with Debian-Edu - we have relation with.

(*) My beloved example is the file selector dialog. If you consider the 7 following software: GNU Emacs, XFig, Dr.Genius, Sketch, Kword, Lyx and OpenOffice; all the file selector dialogs use different paradigm to access the files. These software can be used in school institution and because of their different UI design can confuse very easily the users. This is really an issue for the end user.


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