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Interview with Wil Alvarez from the Turpial project

Interviewing the Venezuelan and lead of the Turpial project Wil Alvarez, the popular client for Twitter and identi.ca

Entrevista al venezolano Wil Alvarez del proyecto Turpial, el popular cliente para Twitter e identica

The past weekend I had the opportunity to interview the project lead of Turpial, the Twitter and identi.ca client for Linux, Wil Alvarez. The questions ranged from personal to specific about this social networks client coded in Python.

It seemed appropriate to track a couple of reactions I got after sharing the video tutorial of the Twitter and identi.ca client Turpial that I recently published. These were mostly positive but some expressed some dissatisfaction with some details of this project.. When I stressed that it is Venezuelan software, The common answer that I got was “The only Venezuelan there is Wil” and the one that repeated the most was something like “If it was Venezuelan, the project front web page would be in spanish”.

Here are the first set of questions that as I mentioned above, these will be oriented specifically to the Turpial project.

How long a go was created Turpial, what are its origins?

Turpial was born about November of 2008. I think it was about October, when Eleazar Meza recommended me (@elshaka), to open a Twitter account, I played with several linux clients that were available at that time. tried Mutter, Gwibber, DestroyTwitter and others, but none covered my expectations.

Back then Gwibber and Mutter lacked many futures wrapped in a simple interface. DestroyTwitter was a great app, but it wasn't free and this made me some what uncomfortable. I decided to write a Twitter client with the Python and GTK knowledge I had back then. Thus was born the project.

People complain that there is more documentation in English than Spanish, I do understand that now days English (in a geek world) is considered a “Universal Language”. What would you say to those people who complain and how they can help to translate or collaborate?

Azrael (@AzraelCcs) wrote a great article on this topic (in English) with a very concise and to-the-point explanation and several points are worth highlighting, so I'll take the main idea of ​​his text to answer your question.

Turpial is growing, faster than we expected and for us is really important to keep it this way and to conquer new horizons. Like it or not, English is a common language, both in programming areas and in interaction with people (socially speaking). We should avoid having a narrowed view of the world and think that the only language spoken in the world is spanish and we should also avoid what some people have suggested me, "imposing spanish" to people as the base of the application , because as I said above: like it or not, English is the language spoken outside our borders.

Thanks to the decision we made to migrate our platform to English we managed to capture our good friend Andrea Stagi (@4ndreaSt4gi) who has been working hard with us in the code of Turpial and many other contributions, including donations and even news/articles on blogs around the world.

We can assure the community the following:

  • We are not selling our selfs to a corporation's evil empire that will use Turpial as a tool to subjugate the oppressed.
  • We are not ending spanish support.
  • We will continue to improve Turpial in Spanish, English, Portuguese, Chinese, German and all languages ​​that we are able to do so (with the aid of the community).

  • If you check the timeline of Turpial you will notice that we answer questions and requests in both languages but our platform is and will be in english because in this very moment we are too few contributors that actually push code and as humans that we are we do not have time to translate and maintain the platform .

    We are fully open to receive contributions in order to translate the platform, We have never denied this nor turned away contributors, we simply do not have enough time. Our friend Nathalie Colina (@Art3mis4) was eager to collaborate with translations, if people are really interested, they can contact her and try to coordinate their efforts.

    Soon, we will be seing Turpial in other platforms including mobiles and other operating systems? and if so, it will remain free?

    Sure. We are already working on version 2 that will be available for Windows and Mac. Then we plan to port Turpial 3 to Android, iPhone and even Chrome (and Firefox, Why not?).

    Turpial is and will remain free. That is our slogan and is part of of Turpial's Zen.

    Will Turpial get extended to other social networks like Facebook chat, IRC or something like that?

    For now the only official support we have is for Twitter and Identi.ca. However, were in talks with César Cotiz to include official support for Plaxed and we are also looking in to fully support Status.net. These two popular networks will most likely be be included in future versions.

    For all other social networks we will be trying to enable a plugin system for extending the application, but to be honest we hav no plans to keep extending the core of Turpial further.

    What is the functionality or characteristic of Turpial that seems to be more commented by people?

    The feature that people hates the most is the graphical interface, especially the inability to directly click on the links, hashtags or profiles. Unfortunately Gtk has its limitations and we had to adjust to them, that is why Turpial 2.0 was designed based on Webkit and we have been working on it. The appearance will change a by a lot.

    How many people work on this project, those you would consider “Core contributors”?

    Currently three: Carlos Guerrero (@guerrerocarlos), Andrea Stagi (@4ndreaSt4gi) and my self (@satanas82).

    How could identi.ca and twitter collaborate with Turpial?

    It's a difficult question, I think the best way to collaborate with Turpial (and with any third party client) is to maintain an API stable over time and to minimize the control or set rules of rules they should at least avoid constat changes that might affect third party apps.

    Taking advantage of the opportunity I decided to ask him some questions a bit more personal and to leave Turpial on a side, here is the second part of the interview with Wil Alvarez.

    How old were you when you learned to program??

    I started when I was 18 years old. I always dreamed to be a game developer and that got me motivated . For some years I developed a couple of games using Pygame but I still feel that my dream came true.

    What is the most consuming task of Turpial, those tasks that you would like to delegate?

    Mainly the ones that I call “administrative tasks or P.R.”. Answering emails, answer questions and followup with other tasks, writing news, articles in the wiki; these are things that I like to do, especially reply emails, but it is just too time consuming. I like to answer directly to the end user, I feel that this way we are breaking that barrier between the user and the developer, this tells people that our only separation is an e-mail, regardless of the distance, that we listen to them, that we really care about them and that their opinions are taking in consideration.

    Do you work on other projects that we can talk a little?

    Right now my job is consuming much of my time so I can't really devote time on anything else. I have pending a couple of games and some projects (specially things like frameworks) to build applications but all that is on stand-by.

    Identi.ca or Twitter?

    Twitter.

    Do I understand that currently are in Argentina, How is the community of
    free software over there?

    Well, I was in Argentina until a week ago (I'm now in Chile) but the FOSS movement is very interesting, The Python community in Argentina is one of the most active that I have seen and it has a lot of highly qualified developers (or “grosos”, as the argentinians would call them). They also have a very active Mozilla community and of course, the Free Software is very active over there.

    .

    1 Comment

    1. the Sabiondo

      It is curious that complain about the language… just a program that is done in Venezuela. I would like to see how many of those who complain are the lists of the other twitter clients that do make it out of the country claiming that the site is in English or a language they do not understand… also, if reclamasen because that was an impediment to use the client or to collaborate with the same.

      Not speak English, not collaborate with the project, no programs, do nothing, vaguely speak Spanish…What then?

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