OLPC Human Interface Guidelines/Activities/Activity Bundles

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The Activity Bundle

API Reference
Activity Bundle technical specifications

Activities will exist in the form of bundles. These bundles will manifest as groups of related files—source code, images, documentation, etc—that compose a given activity. As self-contained modules, the distribution and installation of an activity distills to a simple transfer of the activity bundle to a laptop. Properties stored within a bundle provide information about its version and its creator(s).

Bundle Types

OLPC will support a signed "official" bundle type. Signed bundles have been tested and verified by an authority such as laptop.org or any other organization through which children obtain bundles in some official capacity, such as a country's official repository. This system may support a trickle-up metaphor through which locally signed bundles propagate upward to higher authorities, allowing wider distribution of newly created activities and content to other regions and countries.

Personal bundles, on the other hand, have been created or modified by an individual among the laptop community. A personal bundle isn't signed or verified by an official source; instead, it is signed or watermarked with the identity of the individual who modified it. This watermark remains attached to the bundle throughout its lifetime. As others modify or change it, their own watermark should be appended to the bundle. This gives a personal bundle some sense of origin and a means through which it is possible to give credit or responsibility.

Bundle Versions

Bundles always automatically update to the latest officially signed version present within the laptops network. If a child's friend has a more recent version of a singed bundle, Sugar will download that newer version and update her laptop automatically. This requires bundles to communicate a unique bundle identifier and version, as well as their signature if they have one.

Obtaining Activity Bundles

Officially signed bundles should spread freely across the mesh Neighborhood; their information and the bundles themselves should be readily available to anyone within communication range. Installation and updates should occur implicitly.

While personal bundles are slightly more restricted, current thinking would limit distribution of personal bundles amongst a child's friends only. This should help limit the destructive power of a malicious bundle from spreading across the Neighborhood, yet still allow people to open up their bundle source code, improve it and share it explicitly.

Implicit Bundle Sharing

Implicit bundle sharing will automatically update signed bundles on a child's machine when the network allows. If a child finds an interesting activity running on the mesh Neighborhood, she will implicitly download and install the activity on her own machine when she joins that activity. Additionally, this provides a means of obtaining completely new bundles, since she doesn't necessarily need to have an older version of the bundle installed prior to joining. Of course, since there will likely be some download time before the activity can begin, a visual indication of the progress will appear during launch.

In cases where a child joins a group running an older version of an activity she has a newer version of, the same will happen. Her laptop will silently download the older version of the activity so that when she joins, her active instance is service and communication level compatible. However, in such instances the old version will not overwrite the newer version, and will instead remain a transparent detail for compatibility reasons. The newer will remain present on her machine, so that future activities which she initiates begin with the new version, ultimately encouraging the spread of newer bundles.

We might need some kind of warning when joining an activity on the mesh whose bundle is not signed...

Explicit Bundle Sharing

In the case of personal bundles, explicit sharing will be required. This results from the fact that many children may ultimately edit and redistribute new and altered bundle versions of a variety of software; automatic distribution of such modifications is neither secure nor efficient.

In these cases, activities may be posted to private Bulletin Boards, or distributed directly to a child's friends through the drag and drop metaphors used elsewhere in the interface.

Where Are Bundles Stored?

The Journal keeps a record of all bundles on the laptop. Installing a bundle creates an entry that indicates who the child downloaded the bundle from and its version. If she installed the bundle through the joining of an activity, the activity entry in the journal will reference the newly updated bundle. Of course, once stored within the journal, the Bundle will be available for activation within the Actions section of the Frame.

Removing Bundles

The journal entry for an activity bundle also allows for its removal; it is deleted in a the same way one would remove any other item from the Journal.

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