Evaluation, evaluation, evaluation
Repeating something three times is a method to emphasis heavily à la mode of Tony Blair’s 1996 conference speech. Evaluation is very much at the core of the project. It is all about user requirements and fitting them not only well, but very well. In a typical application, one focuses on functional requirements and does the best to fit the non-functional requirements first.
The project (my Third-Year Project) itself is focussed on the arena of putting thoughts on canvas, a deeply individual activity, leading to integration into a personal knowledge base. It seems to me that people take several passes at taking in and sorting through information before it becomes something that can be expressed in a coherent form. Typically applications designed for the purpose – Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, Inspiration etc… – are very good at certain aspects, but lack the flexibility to truly replace paper and pen.
The prototype which will be developed is something to be used day-to-day and therefore must pass the pop-music test – meaning to be immediately accessible for all types of users – whilst being useful in the long-term. The driving factor behind my reason for taking on the project which I envisage is that no application in the field currently passes both. Therefore, I suggest that the non-functional user accessibility methods become critical.
Naturally, this involves large chunks of evaluation in the beginning to validate (or not) my personal view on current competitor applications in order to establish requirements, feasibility and specification. On development of a prototype application, there is the need for a second phase of evaluation to establish the success (or otherwise) of the prototype. Due to time constraints involved, only the pop-music test is possible to complete. This is a shame, as my interest in this area has been driven by the long term use of such tools and the belief that writing a shed-load of notes which never get referenced again is just sheer waste. The primary cause of this waste is that there is no good way to index, revisit and re-factor. Something that should be very possible in the modern era of computing.