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Bill Kendrick is a software machine. He is the advance artist and developer of New Breed Software, a aggregation creating chargeless and accessible antecedent games, libraries, accoutrement and utilities beyond a ambit of operating systems, adaptable devices, duke captivated and home video consoles. He has alone created a assorted ambit of archetypal Web-based amateur that run beyond all browsers, and has formed as a able video bold developer aback 2003.

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But conceivably Kendrick’s best cogent software accomplishment is Tux Paint, a awful acclaimed, chargeless and accessible antecedent analogy affairs that is primarily aimed at kids, but is acclimated by all ages address of its automatic and effortless design. Tux Acrylic has becoming acclaim from apprenticeship institutions and computer publications all over the world, has been translated into dozens of languages, and is featured on the One Laptop Per Child XO laptop. He is additionally circuitous in the Tux4Kids project, which was afresh accustomed as a mentoring affairs for Google’s Summer of Cipher (GSoC).

Computerworld batten with Bill Kendrick, to acquisition out his thoughts on Tux Paint, Tux4Kids, the GSoC, computer games, KDE against Debian, the advance of Linux, New Breed software, and the role accessible antecedent software can comedy in education.

Kendrick on TuxPaint

Kendrick on TuxPaint

What was it about the Atari and Commodore platforms that aggressive you to actualize Tux Paint? What afflicted its creation?

Atari and Commodore programmers utilised cartoon and complete any adventitious they got. I accept a acrylic affairs on armament for my Atari (that ironically I anticipate I got afterwards I started autograph Tux Paint) that accomplish babble as you paint, aloof like Tux Paint. I anticipate that’s a lot added engaging, compared to added “adult” or “professional” cartoon tools.

Back in the canicule of the 8-bit Atari and Commodore computers, there were no mice, no windowing system, no GUI accoutrement toolkits. Acrylic programs were full-screen, and the accoutrement accessible to you were usually all appropriate there on the screen, or all calm on their own screen.

Along with those old-school 8-bit interfaces, I was additionally aggressive by the artlessness and in-your-face accessibility of some modern, special-purpose user interfaces: PalmOS handhelds and the TiVo DVRs, to be specific.

How circuitous are you in the action of amalgamation and managing changes that bodies accord to Tux Paint?

There are some bodies with accomplish admission to the antecedent cipher athenaeum who occasionally abruptness me with stuff, but lately, for the best part, I’m usually the one authoritative cipher changes. New stamps and translations get committed by a few folks, but abundant of that still gets piped through me, too.

How abounding bodies accord to Tux Paint, and what are the best arresting and advantageous aspects about the development process?

There are a few dozen of bodies who accord on a semi-regular basis, and abounding of those bodies are accomplishing adaptation work. Really, I’d accept to do some statistical assay to amount out what’s been action on lately.

The best arresting affair is my abridgement of time to address to the project. My dream in action is to assignment on Tux Paint, and added “edutainment” apps I’ve dreamed up, full-time, salaried and appoint some contributors to assignment full-time, too. Who wants to accomplish that happen? Bead me a line!

The best advantageous is audition belief from schools that aloof begin Tux Paint, and who are accomplishing abundant things with it. Best recently, I accustomed an email from a aggregation that does eye-tracking accouterments and software for the disabled, and beatific me a articulation to a photo of a kid appliance Tux Acrylic with his eyes. Incredible. I appetite to go bottomward that avenue alike more, if I can, aback I anticipate abounding of the bartering cartoon apps for kids are absolutely defective in the accessibility department. (Consider “accessibility” in agreement of localisation, for example: Tux Acrylic is translated to 80 additional languages. Best bartering kid cartoon programs are in English only; some English and Spanish and maybe French.)

Are you circuitous in accepting Tux Acrylic out in Linux distributions?

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Only insofar as actuality a “willing upstream”. Abounding of our amount contributors are absolutely circuitous in the Linux packaging department. Ben Armstrong is a Debian Developer who bales and maintains Tux Acrylic (and affluence of added kids’ stuff) in Debian. Caroline Ford has been alive with Ben and the Ubuntu association to try and accomplish abiding Tux Acrylic and added Tux4Kids apps are kept abreast there. Toyama Shin-Ichi bales actionable RedHat and Fedora packages. Then there are the Mac, Windows and BeOS ports. It’s a big, happy, multiplatform family.

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How difficult is it developing an interface for kids as against to adults?

That’s adamantine to say. I acutely charge accept to not accepting abundant in the way of “true” appliance development. No Windows or Mac API, GTK or Qt. Aside from accomplishing Tux Paint, I do games. Amateur for the web (HTML, C, CGIs and PHP scripts, etc.) Amateur for cellphones (Java/J2ME and C/BREW). Amateur for Linux (C with SDL, like Tux Paint). I’ve additionally done affluence of added Web development. As my time becomes added ‘copious’, I’d like to sit bottomward and assuredly apprentice wxWidgets. And/or GTK . And/or Qt. I assumption I aloof charge a acceptable acumen to, and that hasn’t appear up in my able action yet.

What were some of the key changes to the latest adaptation of Tux Paint?

Honestly, the aftermost adaptation was added of a bug-fix release, it was the antecedent adaptation that was arranged with new features, and new dependencies. Those dependencies appropriate some changes to get things active able-bodied on Mac, Windows and BeOS, which assuredly settled, so I pushed out the bug-fix release.

The aftermost big changes accommodate a “pick any color” dialog, a dozen new Magic tools, and abutment for the Pango argument apprehension library, which allows us to assuredly affectation added circuitous languages properly, such as Arabic. I additionally pulled out all of the antecedent Magic accoutrement and created a new constituent API, that allows bodies to actualize and assay their own Magic accoutrement a lot added bound and easily.

As kids can be so unpredictable, were there any abrupt appearance in Tux Acrylic that you were abiding would assignment able-bodied that didn’t, or carnality versa?

It’s adamantine to say what works and what doesn’t with the Kids, aback it’s such a attenuate break that I get to watch kids appliance it. I see their end results, but I accept no abstraction how abundant fun or annoyance they had during the process.

I apprehend affluence of kudos, and complaints, from schools. Schools accept begin that they absolutely charge Accessible and Save Book dialogs, which I accurately abhorred (part of the PalmOS inspiration). Schools additionally acquisition that kids charge to go aback and actual argument they’ve added to the picture, which is absurd afterwards either appliance the Undo option, or abatement the argument manually. Fortunately, assignment will be done on both of these fronts, acknowledgment to Google’s Summer of Cipher program.

What does Tux Acrylic accept from a development and user angle that KidPix doesn’t?

I’ve acclimated KidPix twice. Already on an old black-and-white Mac in the mid-1990s, and already appliance some Flash audience version, a few years afterwards I started Tux Paint.

I can absolutely alone abject my allegory on screenshots I’ve seen, and comments I’ve heard, mostly from educators. From the user interface perspective, I acquisition Kid Pix a little too messy. Alike as a kid, I’ve begin “wacky” kid actuality annoying, and I accept that still holds true. Capability-wise, I accept Tux Acrylic is a lot added extensible. Abacus new brushes, starters, stamps, and alike Magic accoutrement is well-documented.

The one affair I anticipate Tux Acrylic lacks is an animation/presentation system.

I afresh added a “Slideshow” interface, but it’s absolutely aloof a stop-gap. I anticipate a absolutely new, abstracted apparatus for creating animations, that would accommodate itself with Tux Acrylic (that is, accomplish your adored pictures available). If I were to sit bottomward and architecture it, I’d apparently attending at avant-garde action programs meant for adults and professionals, and abscess it bottomward the aforementioned way I did with Tux Paint.

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Does proprietary educational software consistently accept the kid’s apprenticeship at heart, or is authoritative money the arch motivator?

Not actuality circuitous in any proprietary educational software development, I absolutely don’t feel like I can acknowledgment that. What I accept apparent is a lot of complaints about the accompaniment of Tux Paint’s “competitors,” aback it comes to UI architecture and, added importantly, absolutely actuality accessible in academy situations (over networks, on terminal server/thin applicant setups, etc.) And that’s afterwards demography into annual the actuality that abounding are platform-specific (read: Windows only).

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Do abounding adults use Tux Paint?

Certainly. The Tux Acrylic online arcade exhibits a ton of assignment by adults of all ages. Some of it is abundantly well-done, which goes to appearance how able of a cartoon apparatus Tux Acrylic can be, in the appropriate hands.

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Kendrick on Tux4Kids and the Google Summer of Cipher (GSoC)

Kendrick on Tux4Kids and the Google Summer of Cipher (GSoC)

Are you circuitous in the Tux4Kids projectt?

Sam Hart, who originally wrote Tux Typing, and created the Tux4Kids organisation, came to me in backward 2001 and asked if I’d be accommodating to address a “Missile Command”-inspired math-quizzing arcade game. I had done a vector-graphics 3D aberration on the game, and had aback done a lot of SDL-based games. I was able to whip article calm actual quickly, but it anon fell to the wayside, as did Tux Typing. I focused actual heavily on Tux Paint, and in the meantime, the added two projects were best up by some actual ablaze volunteers, best conspicuously Tim Holy and David Bruce.

How abundant acknowledgment has it had in the GSoC?

In the end we accustomed over 130 applications from about 90 students. (Google continued the apprentice appliance borderline by a week.) Picking was tougher than expected, and in the end Google gave us 11 slots (we got one added afterwards the fact, I accept aback addition ORG had to bead one).

To summarize, we’ve got the afterward in the GSoC pipeline:

Selection tools; book (open/save) dialogs; new Magic tools; an added argument apparatus for Tux Paint; bigger Indic accent abutment and some apprentice achievement assay actuality in Tux Typing; a brace new amateur in TuxMath; and some assignment on autography training, which will either become allotment of Tux Acrylic and/or its own, abstracted application.

How will the GSoC appulse the development of Tux4Kids?

It’s already had an impact. Some bugs were already anchored by students, while they were applying to participate. A cardinal of acceptance who weren’t called to participate as acceptance in the Summer of Cipher affairs are action advanced and accidental to the projects anyway. I’m additionally academic we’ll accept an accessible time signing up to participate in Google’s Awful Accessible Participation (GHOP) affairs (a non-coding-related affairs for aerial academy students) if Google decides to run it afresh this year.

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Kendrick on kids, Debian, computer games, shells and Linux

Kendrick on kids, Debian, computer games, shells and Linux

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Has accepting accouchement afflicted your access to developing software and your acumen on the role accessible antecedent software can comedy in education?

Yes. A acquaintance with adolescent kids and I are award that Accessible Antecedent is defective in the pre-school department. Some bodies accept appropriate means to accomplish Tux Acrylic accessible for alike adolescent users (3 and under), but I anticipate a new, simple, single-purpose app for that age ambit would accomplish the best sense.

I see no acumen to balloon and convolute Tux Paint’s civil user interface cipher aback a from-scratch app, that wouldn’t absolutely charge the abiding aliment that Tux Acrylic has, would do absolutely the aforementioned thing.

Do you still comedy any computer games? Which ones/platforms?

I was never absolutely into “computer” games. I’ve consistently been added of a animate gamer. Of course, computers acquiesce me to address my own games, but that’s a absolutely altered activity. With a babyish and a active assignment life, these canicule I don’t get abundant time for annihilation except Scrabble on my cellphone, and a assertive acclaimed Scrabble carbon on Facebook.

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When I get added time (i.e., our son grows up a bit), and added space, I’ll already afresh accept all of my bold systems absorbed up and accessible to comedy at any time: PlayStation 2, Sega Dreamcast, Atari Jaguar, Nintendo NES, Atari 2600, Atari 8-bit computer. I agilely anticipate the day that a Nintendo Wii, a Nintendo DS and conceivably alike an XBox360 can access the family.

Are you still a Debian devotee? If not, what distro are you appliance and why?

I’m a Debian supporter, but afterwards falling in adulation with KDE, and actuality aghast at how ‘far behind’ Debian was getting, I absitively to about-face to Ubuntu already Kubuntu came out and was absolutely supported.

What is your favourite editor and carapace and why? vim or Emacs? zsh or bash?

I don’t acknowledgment religious questions. Seriously, though, my accomplishment akin in both back-bite and csh, and both Emacs and VI, are so low, that I assume to calmly about-face aback and forth. Of course, as a KDE devotee, I’m autograph this acknowledgment offline in Kate.

What do you anticipate about the accretion advance of Linux beyond multimedia platforms?

I anticipate it’s great, abnormally as developer of amateur for Linux. Virgin Airlines created their “Red” in-flight ball system. One of my amateur is included: Mad Bomber of all things. (Why didn’t they re-skin it and change the title!?)

As Linux, and to alike a greater degree, Accessible Antecedent libraries like libSDL, get ported to added devices, added of those accessories are aback able to comedy a deluge of abundant games.

What projects are you alive on at New Breed SW at the moment?

My wife and I were discussing bold account one night, and she came up with an absorbing addle bold that I’ve amorphous alive on. I’m adequately assured it will be fun, and has a ton of allowance for abundant art, re-skinning, bold variations, etc. I assuredly spent an hour abacus a little bit of menuing UI to it the added day so we can try out altered bold options and adversity levels afterwards alteration and recompiling the source.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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