KAT positioning

I don’t get to spend as much time as I’d like on the Collaborative for Croquet, but I’m still pleased with progress on our software. A lot of people are trying it out from all around the world (ain’t the Internet grand?), and it’s standing up pretty well. Time to clarify expectations. (The punchline at the end is that you have use the latest version.)

We have a specific project, Kids First, in which we will be bringing together children, parents, and teachers into an always-on virtual learning center. Doing this successfully requires a bit more than had otherwise been in the old beta version of the Croquet Software Developer’s Kit, so it’s doing a lot to move things towards a real application.

We’re calling all this extra software the KidsFirst Application Toolkit (KAT) and making it free to everyone as we develop it. A snapshot of the KAT from January was included in last week’s 1.0 SDK release by the Croquet Consortium.

Since the KAT is also the closest thing available to a free collaborative application, we’re also “hosting” it so that people can try it out. This supports the Collaborative’s non-profit role “to further the development of open software and Internet infrastructure that makes accessible to non-programmers the open-source collaboration software known as ‘Croquet.’”

A couple of people have told me that to them, the KAT is Croquet. A lot of the present tense description in the SDK press release is based on the KAT. That’s kind of cool, but kind of uncool, too. For one thing, there are two commercial products (Plopp and Forums) that are far more advanced (but with those advances being closed source). Also, the Collaborative doesn’t have to be the only means by which people can connect. See Directory and Connecting.

In my mind, the KAT is fleshing out well to what I want it to be, but it isn’t there yet. Performance, infrastructure, and capabilities all need to be improved before I would consider it ready for its KidsFirst users. We are continuing to make changes. A couple of people have asked me if we shouldn’t host a frozen version at the 1.0 SDK level and a separate version that keeps up with improvements. I think that’s a terrific idea for when the KAT finally meets some minimum standards, but I don’t imagine that anyone who’s tried it really wants us to stop here. (Or two months ago.) So if you want to connect with others through www.croquetcollaborative.org, you need to use the latest software. Either start with the 1.0 SDK and update your packages through Monticello, or use the distributions at the Collaborative.

About Stearns

Howard Stearns works at High Fidelity, Inc., creating the metaverse. Mr. Stearns has a quarter century experience in systems engineering, applications consulting, and management of advanced software technologies. He was the technical lead of University of Wisconsin's Croquet project, an ambitious project convened by computing pioneer Alan Kay to transform collaboration through 3D graphics and real-time, persistent shared spaces. The CAD integration products Mr. Stearns created for expert system pioneer ICAD set the market standard through IPO and acquisition by Oracle. The embedded systems he wrote helped transform the industrial diamond market. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stearns was named Technology Strategist for Curl, the only startup founded by WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. An expert on programming languages and operating systems, Mr. Stearns created the Eclipse commercial Common Lisp programming implementation. Mr. Stearns has two degrees from M.I.T., and has directed family businesses in early childhood education and publishing.

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