27 Apr 2006 msevior   » (Master)

AbiWord - Distruptive or pushing the edge?

Luis here is your chance to be lead by example :-) Now that you are a student and eligable for the Google Summer of Code experimence, why not sign up for Abiword SoC project numbr 5. To quote:

"5. Come up with a UI suitable for the OLPC project. The OLPC project is aimed explicitly at children and the computer screens are either 640x480 or 800x600. Our current UI is not optimum for this evironment. This project would be to find a UI that works for OLPC."

Robert Staudinger has had a bit of a go at this already. You can find some mockups here along with some discussion on the OLPC list here

I'm also really interested in the possibilities of Beagle-Dashboard-Abiword integration as listed in project number 1.

"Last year Martin wrote the AbiDash plugin which sends clues and notifications to the Dashboard program. Dashboard is a really interesting project which runs in the background in a spare piece of screen real-estate. As different programs gain focus they send "clue packets" which describe what the user is currently doing. Dashboard integrates with the Beagle search engine and uses the clues to perform searchs through the Beagle index. It attempts to find relevent files and relevent pieces of text that could help the user with their current document.

So for example, if a user is employing AbiWord to write an essay on Shakespear's Midsummer Night, the Dashboard program would search through the users documents looking for both relevent documents and relevent parts of the documents to what is being typed. It should present the user with useful information without the user having to do any explicit searches. So imagine relevent parts of the "Midsummer's Night's dream" appearing in Dashboard as I write my essay. Or if I'm writing a technical paper I get references to previous work and relevent numbers and formulae in Dashboard as I type in Abiword."

Dashboard currently complies wth a small patch to the Beagle pkgconfig.pc file but crashes almost immediately after receiving clues. It needs a lot of love to recover from it's bitrot.

Will Dashboard live up to the vision described above? I don't know but it will be fun to try and you never know, it might be the Next Big Thing.

And of course the uber-cool AbiCollab project that uwog and I are working on (Project number 2):

"The AbiCollab project enables users to work collaboratively on the same document by immediately broadcasting changes from different Abiword sessions around a peer-to-peer network. The basic functionality and first order corrections for internet lag have been implemented and shown to work. Abiword sessions on different sides of the planet (Australia and Holland), (Australia and the USA) have been connected and typing, deleting and changes within the documents are transported to the remote documents. The first order corrections to internet lag allow the documents to remain in sync even if the users type and delete as rapidly as they can. In addition the usual word processing features like text fonts/style/tables/bullet points etc all get transmitted correctly to the remote document.

However there is tons of work left to do here.


But that's not all! We have another 6 interesting projects listed on our wiki and if students have an interesting idea they like to try we'll certainly listen.

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