Building software together

I want to talk a little bit about the ongoing collaboration between KDE and Ltia, the  Applied Information Technology Lab – Laboratório de Tecnologia da Informação Aplicada  ( Ltia is connected to UNESP – a state university in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Currently there are about 30 people working at several projects in the lab, in different areas like User Experience, Embedded Development, Software Development and Information Technology.
Ltia has just started a 6-month project with several stages involving five people: Paulo Cattai and Roberto Cunha will work with usability, user experience and pedagogical evaluation of applications, while Danilo Balzaque, Tadeu Araújo and Tiago Porangaba will do the actual coding implementation. For this project they have selected four applications: Kbruch, Kpercentage, Kalzium and Ksudoku. They will work on usability enhancements and some new features related to the usage of these programs in the educational environment, of course always in close cooperation with the existing maintainers and the KDE Edu and KDE Games community. Work has already started on Kbruch, and we can expect the initial results in a few weeks. Of course, the goals of this project are to improve the educational applications and foster collaboration between our community and other institutions, so we can learn from each other. Ltia uses a more formal development structure for their internal projects, and it should be interesting to see how well this can work in association with KDE’s more informal development processes.
Things seem to have started well: Paulo and Tiago are here in Belgium for Akademy. Celeste Paul and Ellen Reitmayr have already exchanged usability advice and some guidelines with them, and the guys seem right at home in the hacking labs and sessions. According to Paulo, “this is an opportunity to push ourselves and learn more about user experience in a large scale project, and share this experience with the lab team and with the academic community.”
I hope collaborations like this one can become more common in the future, and I would like to help it happen. In other words, this is a call for other universities in Brazil with computer science and design labs to contact me and see how we (you and KDE) can work together on building better open source educational software and games in the future.

BTW, I am taking a Nokia 810 tablet with me back to Sao Paulo. These nice little gadgets were distributed at Akademy to encourage development for smaller form factors, and I think they can help us learn how to test and adapt our interfaces to this new class of devices. This is something that will be useful for delivery to netbooks and other small screen laptops (OLPC, Classmate) as well. As I know it is very difficult to get one in Brazil, I am going to make this one available for people who want to play with it, so if you are involved in an educational or game project and need to lend it for some time, please let me know, ok?