Monday, October 27, 2008

Week 13/14 Update

After completing the Wetpaint wiki tool, I decided no to do a 4th. Reasons for this being largely time constraints but also because a 4th tool will not affect the results of my study in anyway. It would have been nice to have picked a tool that covered some of the design patterns that the others did not, such as one with full synchronous editing support, but it's difficult to find such tools that are free and of reasonable quality. In hind-sight I should not have used so many design patterns (54). Had I picked only 10 common ones, I would have had time to cover 6 tools, but as mentioned, I don't believe the results will be significantly affected.
Efforts now are focused on final write-up with the intention of handing my paper in on Friday. Have a couple of important things on at work this week but will push hard to meet the deadline.
Looking forward to having it finished.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Week 12 Update

I finished off Groove completely last week - it made use of some other patterns that Google Docs did not, which will definitely help the study be more interesting with a broader scope. Groove handles artifacts much better than Google Docs, but does not handle concurrent editing very well.

I have also completed most of the design patterns for a wiki (wetpaint). This also covers off many patterns that have not been supported by the other 2 tools. Wikis cover Schummer's Community Support quite well, whereas Groove and Google Docs were both lacking in this area. Will finish off wetpaint this week along with another tool by Thursday - have yet to pick one - have several choices - ideally would have liked one with real-time editing. Groove and wikis do not support this at all and Google Docs only partially supported it.

I have 5 days of annual leave from work from Wednesday this week, giving me 7 straight days to finish the project and write it up. 5 days will be spent writing everything up. Fortunately, section 3, Own Work will be almost done once the 4th tool is complete. I have made quite a few notes for section 4, Synthesis so should be fine. Section 1, Introduction should be quite easy to put together. Section 2, Background is what I'm concerned about at the moment because I have a big mess of notes to put together. The first day of my 5-day write-up plan will be spent organising everything for the background section. Intro and Synthesis should require no more than a day each.

Getting there, but will be a hard push until the end.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Week 11 Update

This week was supposed to be spent on analysing wikis as a collaborative writing tool. Instead I focused on Microsoft Groove 2007. It's another tool that was quite interesting because it supported a lot of different patterns that Google Docs did not, which is much better for a broader perspective.

I have not quite finished Groove yet. I have only focused on the first 55 patterns from Schummer's book since the last ones are more about underlying technology that aren't as relevant and also difficult to apply since they require a deeper understanding of the tool's design.

This week (12) I will finish off Groove and also Wikis. The beginning of Week 13 I will probably do Webex quickly since I already have an understanding of what patterns it supports - although not a standard collaborative writing tool, it will cover some patterns that the others do not and also has obvious applications in the field of collaborative writing.

I'm taking the last 3 days of week 13 off from work and the first 2 days (Mon and Tues) of week 14 off to hand-in on the Wednesday. I will be quite rushed, but will spend that time off on writing up everything.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Week 9/10 Post

Last week was spent finishing off Google Docs from a DP point of view and this week was spent using Wink to image capture for all the design patterns to prove my claims.

This process took a lot longer than expected. Reasons being because the design patterns I've been using are from Schummer's book and there are 71 of them. In the initial stages of planning this project I did not expect to use so many. The positives of using many design patterns is that the tools covered are covered reasonably thoroughly. The negatives are that I won't be able to cover as many tools. By the end, I hope to have thoroughly covered between 4 and 6 tools. This may sound unrealistic, because of the time taken to cover Google Docs, but it was the most time-consuming because it was the first - I had to understand the design patterns and while applying them, had to make decisions to keep consistency. The other tools shouldn't take as long.

Next tool will be wikis. Then at least a non-web-based real-time writing tool and maybe a web-conferencing tool. If I have time, I will pick 2 others. I have tried to keep the tools quite different because the patterns I am using support many applications, so individual applications don't meet the requirements for all of the DPs - only a portion of them. Hopefully at the end, the tools covered, combined can support 90% of the patterns in some way or another.

I have already come across a few issues using the design patterns to describe tools. It is very difficult to keep consistency. For example, differentiating between a tool supporting a pattern, partially supporting or not supporting it. Some of the design patterns are borderline and it's difficult to decide what category the tool should fall into. I have included my assumptions for each design pattern to maximise consistency. At the end of the day, a lot of the judgements I'm making are my own, which isn't enough - it is likely that many people may disagree with some of my assumptions.

We'll see how it works out in the end...

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.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Week 5 Update

Long Overdue post.
Project has been delayed slightly - for weeks 2, 3 and 4 - had to do a roadshow for work, got sick and my grandmother passed away. Not the best time. That being said, I've taken off 3 days from work this week to get back on track. Partial Treatise Draft is due next Friday - may end up handing it in on Monday.
I've hit a bit of a hurdle in that I'm having difficulty finding relevant design patterns to describe collaborative writing tools - it's looking like I may have to develop my own.

Plan of attack for the partial treatise draft:
Picking 2 collaborative writing tools - Google Docs (web-based, professionally developed) and Gobby (installed app, development project). Will try and relate important concepts to collaborative writing (eg 'awareness') to collaborative writing features (eg revision history) and then try and develop design patterns around them. Will use 3 design patterns for the draft to describe these tools and then put all the information in a matrix.
Expanding the draft into the full treatise should therefore only involve picking more tools and developing more design patterns (and of course coming up with more thorough discussions/conclusions).

Hopefully developing my own design patterns isn't going to be too difficult...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Overdue update for week 1.

Project Plan was due last week - preliminary schedule is below.
Week (Mon) - Deliverables and planned activities with basic description.
1 (28/7) - Project Plan due on Fri 1/8. Completed.
2 (4/8) - Research and identify the most important concepts associated with collaborative writing tools.
3 (11/8) - Research design patterns for collaborative systems. Get an overview of what has been documented and pick 2+ main ones to discuss and use in the preliminary matrix.
4 (18/8) - Research products. Get an overview of what’s available and pick 2+ main ones to discuss and use in the preliminary matrix.
5 (25/8) - Form relationships between the chosen products and the chosen design patterns. Build preliminary product-design pattern matrix.
6 (1/9) - Partial Treatise Draft due on Fri 5/9. Write-up partial treatise draft – main focus will be on background information, selected products and design patterns and product-design pattern matrix. Make some minor comments and suggestions for the remainder of the project.
7 (8/9) - Continue research of design patterns. Pick some more relevant ones based on priority.
8 (15/9) - Continue research of tools. Select some more tools so that the selections cover a broad range of products.
9 (22/9) - Associate chosen products with the design patterns they represent and document.
10 (29/9) - Complete product-design pattern matrix.
11 (6/10) - Discussions (this potentially can be pushed to the following week and time shared with conclusions allowing for a “spare” week if required for other activities)
12 (13/10) - Conclusions
13 (20/10) - Write-up treatise.
14 (27/10) - Treatise due on Wed 29/10. Before Wed 29/10 – continue writing treatise and adding finishing touches. After Wed 29/10 – begin identifying key concepts from treatise for the presentation.
15 (3/11) - Prepare presentation.16 (10/11) - Presentation due on Mon 10/11 or Tues 11/11. Practice presentation and deliver presentation.

Topic has changed slightly - it now is being done with a design pattern approach.
Research Question: Is it possible to compare collaborative writing tools using design patterns?

My main concern at this point is how difficult it will be to find relevant design patterns to describe rigorously the collaborative writing tools I will be comparing.

Week 2 goal: Research and identify the most important concepts associated with collaborative writing tools. We need to know these because they will help prioritise the design patterns we find and therefore choose the most important ones. One example concept is "awareness".