Thursday, January 25, 2007

The artistry of visual explanations by Dynamic Diagrams

They amaze me every time by their designer craftsmanship and ability to visually capture the concept of a solution without becoming overly technical...

I'd certainly would like to put them to the head slapping test of capturing my usually more than one minute elevator speech in an image that fits the back of my business card !

We want an interface as clean as Google's...

[designer to reference user] Could you give me an example of an interface that you really like working with to inspire me in making an interface design for your application?

[reference user to designer] Well, if you can make it as clean and simple as Google, I would surely enjoy working with it.
Dear reader, how many times are you part of such a dialogue? Well, I must admit that I quite often find myself in the position of the designer in a similar dialogue. Do not misunderstand: there is nothing wrong with the user's answer. I do understand what they mean with clean and simple, an interface cannot be any cleaner and simpler, because it would be an empty page and therefore not an interface any more. The interface might appear clean and simple, but so is the functionality delivered by it. It suggests that search needs no more than entering one (maybe two words) and hit 'search'. Followed by some brilliant mechanism that understands exactly what is entered and delivers results precisely geared towards the user's expectation ordered to the user's conception of relevance.
Sweet dreams!

PS I do not dislike Google with some sort of passion, I actually think they are the example to anyone active in the arena of web marketing.

Web 2.0 and saving valuable time... not for everyone

XKCD

Schemalogic and MOSS 2007

The SchemaLogic Enterprise Suite for Microsoft SharePoint 2007 enables companies to develop and manage a common, enterprise-wide vocabulary that describes the corporate information assets stored across multiple SharePoint sites. This enterprise-wide vocabulary is published across all SharePoint sites delivering enhanced information integrity, consistent information access, and effective governance across the enterprise. The SchemaLogic solution can further be used to synchronize semantics across SharePoint and other enterprise systems, such as Enterprise Content Management and search systems, providing easy integration of content and a consistent search experience. Advantages:

  • Access information with increased relevance and consistency
  • Ensure corporate and regulatory compliance across the entire SharePoint environment
  • Enable subject matter experts to collaborate and build common semantics across the enterprise
  • Manage and publish semantic standards across SharePoint and other enterprise systems
  • Create and centrally manage SharePoint content types, site columns and value lists
  • Leverage controlled schemas, vocabulary lists, taxonomies, thesauri, and ontologies across the enterprise

MOSS 2007 and XML

XML is at the core of Office system 2007 spanning client and server technologies. the 2007 Office system introduces a new Open XML format that allows much easier programmatic access to Office files. Microsoft Office InfoPath uses XML for gathering information, with the flexibility to incorporate data from many sources in a single form. On the server side, XML surfaces in a variety of ways allowing enterprises to style the content in the format they want by using Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT). (source: Microsoft whitepaper on 2007 Office, Dec 2006)

MOSS 2007 and Content Types, a key feature

Microsoft added custom definable content types to MOSS 2007 (short for: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007). So why is that a big deal? Well, because Sharepoint server 2003 did not support those, which aggravated a considerable amount of developers. Why?

  • Having to create multiple document libraries to hold different types of documents because you just wanted different metadata for different document types.
  • Customized an issues list for your project workspace, then found yourself having to copy those changes multiple times for all the other projects you were running.
  • Created an extensive development intensive workaround to enable different document templates for different document types.
  • Published a custom list template only to realize a month later (and 50 new sites using that list template) that you left out a critical piece and that all lists would have to be updated with the new field. Ouch, that hurts!

Advantages of content types:
  • Content types are hierarchical. It is possible to define a content type which is based on another content type. The new content type will inherit all of the properties of the parent content type. This hierarchy can be as deep as you like.
  • Changes to the Content Type can automatically propagate to all lists and all child content types.
  • Each content type can have a different document template.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Ennerdale Countryhouse Hotel

Between the coast and the Lake District, Cleator is a former coal-mining village, with its typical rows of small terraced houses. With the closure of the coalmines Cleator has taken with some enthusiasm to the provision of accommodation and refreshment to passing Coast-to-Coast walkers. A feature of the village is its well-kept cricket ground. A mile away is the larger village of Cleator Moor, with more accommodation.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Faceted browsing: FAC.ETIO.US

Yet another faceted browser based on the del.icio.us API. The frames containing facets for selecting and deselecting is questionable, are these facets? What's a facet?

A facet is a group of headings which all define a certain method of classification. That is, a facet is a way in which a resource can be classified; for example, classified by colour, classified by geography, classified by subject, etc.
The facet called 'Organisation' is definitely a group of headings, and they seem to classify a resource in the same way, i.e. it is a set of organisations, not other things. The trouble though with facets is that facets are close to faceted classification, which is a different kind of species, not necessarily related to facets at all. Faceted classification implies facets, but facets do not imply the usage of a faceted classification scheme for classification.
Faceted Classification: In a strict faceted classification model, a resource is classified under one heading from each facet that applies to it. A resource does not have to be classified at all in a given facet, if that facet's method of classification doesn't apply to the resource.
So what we can determine is that fac.etio.us uses facets, but has no faceted classification as a scheme for classification. If that strict model were applied it may not be possible to classify an object with more than one heading from the same facet. If we would consider facets in fac.etio.us being parts of a faceted classification, then a facet would be:
A set of headings in which the assignment of one heading to a resource limits the assignment to that resource of other headings in the set.
This is not the case in fac.etio.us.

Faceted browsing: DIREC.TOR

You should know that I prefer navigating over searching in many cases, recognising is just so much easier than remembering. Looking at this tool using del.icio.us' API makes me wonder why the developer chose to use different colours for each tag selected but didn't follow that design decision throughout other parts of the interface... xanadu turned purple all over the place but in the selection box? Why?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mashup of GoogleMaps and Military History

January 3rd, 2007, 10 past midnight. I just finished the first major step in developing a demonstrator in GoogleMaps. 1000 objects are depicted on a map. The objects are part of a historically important infrastructural project in The Netherlands, until today it's still the largest project undertaken. Larger than the Deltaworks, larger than Betuwelijn, larger than HSL, ... The objects were built as a defence mechanism previous to to first world war. By inundating a large area of the country the enemy could be brought to a stand still (in the pre-aircraft years).