Last week, while at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Dallas I mentioned in one of the roundtables about how wicked-cool it would be to have a desktop client for Ubuntu Open Week, Ubuntu Developer Week and other online tuition events that we run.

One of the challenges we face every time we run these events is helping new community members figure out how IRC works. Ideally this should be as simple as running a program, selecting an event and connecting.

On the flight home I hacked up a little quickly app to get started on this. It is called Lernid.

This is how it works:

When you fire up Lernid it will ask you to select an event from a combo box and enter a nickname. The list of events in the combo box is actually held on the server side, which means we add new events and all Lernid clients will see them. This also means that other projects can use Lernid for their online events too. When the user hits OK it then loads up the main interface:

In the upper pane the schedule is displayed for the currently selected event, the bottom left pane shows the classroom channel and the bottom right pane shows the chat channel. The user is now all set to take part in the session.

Right now I have focused on getting a basic Lernid together, and I have created a Lernid Launchpad project and published Lernid 0.1 to my PPA.

I think there is bags of room for additional features. Some ideas include:

  • Filtering IRC channels – filter out the ‘QUESTION’ lines, hide join/part traffic etc.
  • Scheduling – include a feature to schedule a given event on the system calendar.
  • Notifications – pop up a box to indicate that an event is about to begin.
  • Session leader tools – it could also be useful to include a feature for a session leader to scribe down notes, share links or twitter right from Lernid.

Hopefully Lernid can act as a starting point for the community to add new features. :-)

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