Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Week 6/7 Update

Handed the partial treatise draft in yesterday. After a lot of hard work playing catch-up, I finally feel like the project is on track.

The plan for the partial treatise draft was to develop 3 design patterns and use them to analyze and compare 2 collaborative writing tools.
The bad news - I didn't do this.
The good news - on Friday night last week, after going over the article by Till Schummer,
[Schummer, T. (2003). Evolving a Groupware Pattern Language. ECSCW2003 Workshop "From Good Practices to Patterns".] which was a good article for pattern development and was going to form the basis for the process to develop the 3 collaborative, I decided to look up all his publications. I found a very recent one, [Schummer, T., & Lukosch, S. (2007). Patterns for Computer-Mediated Interaction. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.] that is exactly what I was looking for. It contains numerous design patterns that are relevant to collaborative systems.

Although not having enough time to fully understand all the patterns, I included them in the matrix (collaborative writing tools vs design patterns) and used the basic descriptions to describe Google Docs. I also included some design requirements from early articles and a few other features. My analysis of Google Docs was far from complete, but at least I was able to build the matrix and now have a rough idea what it may look like.

I'm looking forward to filling out the rest of the matrix to use for a comparison. However, one initial difficulty I've identified is for distinguishing between pattern support for tools. To keep things simple for a table format, a tool either supports, doesn't support, or partially supports a feature. 2 different tools may partially support a pattern, but in different ways. In the table, they will appear to be the same whereas in reality they may be quite diffenent. Will need to think about any possible solutions to this.

Another question I have is regarding whether to select collaborative writing tools in existence, or to include applications they may be partnered with. For example, Google Docs is a part of the Google suite of applications that supports a lot more features and design patterns than Google Docs does on its own.

The plan for this week is to read the book and understand the patterns - think about which ones to include for the project and which ones not to. Also, I'll need to give some thought as to what other tools I am going to include in the project. I may also do a quick investigation into the book and see if there have been any subsequent articles that relate to it.

Feeling quite optimistic about the project schedule and final result. 2 weeks ago I would not have had the same confidence.

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