[kde-community] Request to join the Kde incubator for GCompris

Bruno Coudoin bruno.coudoin at gcompris.net
Thu Feb 13 03:48:00 UTC 2014


I am the creator and main developer of the educational software GCompris 
(http://gcompris.net). It is released under GPL V3+. It contains about 
140 activities for children 2 to 10 years old.

I am sorry for the length of this email but in order to let you take an 
informed decision and for the future of our collaboration it is 
important that you get the full picture of the GCompris project.

I started this project in 2000 and at that time selected Gtk+ for its 
graphical toolkit. It became a must in its category and is probably the 
most popular educational software with KdeEdu and TuxPaint.

GCompris is available on GNU/Linux through the package manager of most 
distributions. I also distribute the binaries on Windows and MacOSX as a 
direct download on gcompris.net.

It is important to mention that the Windows and MacOSX version are 
distributed as demo ware. These binaries have only a limited number of 
activities and the users are invited to buy an activation code through 
paypal. The activation system is very simplistic, it does not require a 
network connection and is included normally in our code. An average 
developer can understand the activation system and create valid codes. I 
have no way to know if a buyer use the code on one or more computer and 
I don't care. Even if the money I get through this is encouraging, it is 
not enough to work full time on it so I also have a day job. All the 
money is officially declared and I pay taxes to the French government (I 
live in Toulouse in France).

This is an unusual practice for a free software, I took this decision to 
make sure schools, teachers, parents who choose the GNU/Linux path get 
an advantage over the ones staying on a proprietary platform. To my 
surprise, it has been very well received by users and by the free 
software developers. More than this, the duality of the project, 
commercial and community allows it to benefit from the best of both 
worlds. I won't explain you the advantage of a community behind a 
project. For the commercial part, to my surprise, I have numerous 
examples where GCompris was selected in a school _because_ they could 
buy it.

As a community project, it was part of the Gnome community, and the Gtk+ 
version will still be there until the Qt version is on par. We got 
numerous contributors coming from Gnome, especially the translation team 
who does an excellent job. We also managed individual contributors all 
over the years. Many come, create an activity and leave when their 
children does not use GCompris anymore. I usually integrate the 
contributions and handle the maintenance of this code. At some point in 
time there as been other commiters and it was working fine.

I am also a GSoC mentor since 2011 under the Gnome umbrella. I really 
appreciated doing that. It helps the project, the community, the student 
and myself as I like to share my knowledge. For this year I registered 
GCompris as an independent organization since I expect to get students 
working on the new Qt Quick version. Of course, if we work together, I 
will propose next year GCompris under the Kde umbrella.

Enough history, lets talk about our future.

Nowadays, more and more users are requiring us a tablet version. By far, 
Gtk+ is not ready in this area . After reviewing different 
possibilities, I had HTML5 and Qt Quick on my short list. I made a test 
and ported a GCompris activity in HTML5 and a few one in Qt Quick to be 
sure to make a wise decision.

I am happy to tell you that I have been more than surprised by the ease 
of development and the quality of the code I wrote in Qt Quick. Yes it 
does not run on the web but for GCompris there are many reasons to stay 
off the web anyway.

So I have now published a beta version in Qt Quick and used it to 
announce the world that I bet the future of GCompris on it. It has been 
well received in the GCompris community. Of course it deceived the Gnome 
team and I am sad for them but I had to take this drastic decision to 
make sure GCompris stay relevant in the years to come.

On the development side, after looking at creating a compatibility layer 
to run old GCompris activities on a new Qt Quick framework. It proved to 
be difficult and the the result would be ugly in term of code and in 
term of user experience. I decided to go the hard way and to make a full 
rewrite. We will reuse the graphic, sound, voices, data and of course 
the concept of each activity of the Gtk+ version to create the new one. 
I expect the port to last one or two years.

So this is a brain new project with just a demonstrator of only 4 
activities on 140. I think it is a good time frame for GCompris to join 
the Kde community for different reasons:

- We need the best skills to create a solid framework
- This is easier to jump on a new project and more interesting for a new 
- Wehave no on line development tools to migrate

I hope my request did raise your interest and I'll be please to answer 
your questions.



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