[kde-edu]: KEduca resurrection (possible GSoC project)

Mauricio Piacentini piacentini at kde.org
Sun Mar 28 15:10:26 CEST 2010

Hi, list. I am currently working on a proposal to GSoC to resurrect KEduca,
but before I commit to it I would like to get some feedback from the list.
As you guys know, there are several schools and institutions down here in
Brazil (and I am sure in other countries as well) that still use KEduca for
tests, even if there are several known bugs and the app is not ported to KDE
4. This is from an IRC log between Anne-Marie and me, from 2007:


<*piacentini*> Another guy was consterned when I told you about KEduca not
being in 4.0
<*piacentini*> He says he used it already for test with more than 45,000
<*annma*> oh
<*annma*> really?
<*piacentini*> And he changed his lecture when I told you this
<*annma*> :(
<*piacentini*> Gonna tell people that they need to colaborate, participate,
or products can die
<*annma*> yes
<*annma*> whenever we looked at KEduca it did not work
<*piacentini*> I hinted (he works on a government) that he could even
sponsor someone to work on it
<*annma*> but if we had use cases we would have fix it
<*piacentini*> Yes, I asked him for a list of things he likes, things he
does not like, what he uses
<*piacentini*> And we talked a bit about it
<*piacentini*> He says (really) that he estimates that the state has saved
R$ 15.000 in printing when he switched to KEduca tests
<*piacentini*> That is about U$10.000
<*piacentini*> per quarter
<*piacentini*> Notice that these are tests applied on free courses to a poor
community, where they train people in free software and also in other stuff
like mechanics, cooking, etc
<*piacentini*> So for this sort of feedback events like this are good imo,
hopefully he will get back to me, and we can use this story to motivate
someone to port KEduca to KDE4, and address its shortcomings. I got moved,
but my plate is more than full for now :)


After that Matt Williams did some work on KEduca, but as his plate is also
more than full (between PhD, lots of projects and being the KDE Games module
coordinator) the effort got stalled again.

KEduca ships by default in the KDE 3.5.9 based Linux Educacional distro,
delivered to thousands of schools by the Brazilian government. (
http://piacentini.livejournal.com/7871.html). So its user base is actually
increasing, which is a problem as these people will get orphaned soon (next
year) when Linux Educacional finally makes the switch to KDE 4.x.

I realized that we will possibly loose KEduca for good if we do not find an
alternative way of supporting the port. This is why I considered applying
for a GSoC slot as a student to do it. Several people tried to work on it on
their spare time. but the results are not good after several years. Working
in KEduca is not "sexy". The 3.x code base is, well, not easy to navigate
around. Matt (with the advice of Pino) decided to rewrite it back in 2007,
but this is an effort that takes a lot of free time, which is something most
of us do not have, considering our current projects. And, more importantly,
I think we need someone that could not only do the port as a quick summer
job, but really take over the application and become its maintainer for at
least two release cycles. This is involves an attempt to maintain
compatiblity (write a converter) for older tests, and follow through with
everything necessary to make sure the application gets included in KDE 4.6.
So it is something that would start as a GSoC project (and with the initial
monetary help that comes with it), but needs to go beyond that, with at
least a 18-24 month commitment in maintaining it.

At the same time, I am currently working on my Master thesis at PUC-SP,
related to educational open source software, its social and cognitive
impact, which limits the time I have for open source development related to,
for example, KDE Games. But it is possible that this work on KEduca could be
featured a part of my thesis, so by doing this work as part of GSoC I could
possibly tie several loose ends:

- the need to port KEduca
- get Google to support the initial part of this effort (pay for it), as
voluntary work on this project has failed a couple of times
- reuse research work done as part of my thesis in the project

All in all it seems like a good thing to do, but for this I need to know
what you people think about it, and (very important!), if one of you is
willing to do the mentoring (Matt, Anne, Albert, Pino, Aleix, ..?) I also
want to make sure the GSoC money is used for something that will be
long-lived: there is a mix of applications between those that attract
newcomers (which sadly go away as soon as the project is complete), those
that manage to attract new and committed contributors (great!), and some
that are used to support the work of existing community members, like this

So, opinions on this? Should I post the idea and submit a proposal for it?
Or is it a waste of a good project slot :) ?


Mauricio Piacentini
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