Posts Tagged SWOT

Walking Through Time Project Summary - Development

In the spirit of Chris’s post on SWOT’ing.   I thought I would give a similar post from the development side.

Strengths

Web Application - After some initial wobbles we were set on doing a Web Application which paid of for us in many ways.  We originally thought that we would have to create  a bespoke application for a particular mobile application to access the GPS features of a device.  Chris had originally put us on the iPhone track and we looked into Objective C but as neither Petra or I were Apple developers, we got lucky and the geoLocation object came out for both mobile safari and desktop browsers; which solved that problem.  This small turn of fate turned out to be the ultimate strength of the Application.  The original goal was to create a field work tool but in making a web application we were able to open it out to a wider audience.  We were able to quickly turn around changes via the Web App - just using HTML and Javascript.

Java - Petra’s decision to use java on the backend also paid off.  As she is a much better Java programmer than me, she was able to quickly get a flexible framework up and running without too much fuss.

Creativity - Working with the Art College for the first time was a real breath of fresh air for the project team.  Working on an application which was both creatively and technically rewarding was a very pleasant side effect of working with our colleagues.  The team from the Art College were able to provide both help in terms of technical ideas  but also the much more conceptual ideas of what the project could offer.  This is a fairly rare thing to get when working directly with a customer, one I found particularly rewarding.

Design - We were able to explore some rather radical ideas which; didn’t manifest but we were able to use tools like Balsamiq to articulate these ideas quickly and easily to the other members of the team.

Weakness

Mobile Platform - The platform of the phones as a real issue.  Screen size and speed were the 2 biggest factors.  We were able to overcome a lot of the issues but it meant that we were spending a little longer than we would have liked looking at solving speed issues rather than coming up with features.

Workload -  I for one certainly was working with a number of other projects while developing this and Petra was developing this full time, and I was not able to spend as long on it as I wished to.  Also we were perhaps a little ambitious in scope, I for one was keen to try some rather odd things which perhaps were shooting a little too high given the time.

Opportunities

EDINA - we were able to work with EDINA for the first time which was very rewarding.  Our colleagues there were extremely helpful in getting us started and providing solutions.

Agile - we were able to explore working in a very Agile style way with this project.  We deliberately tried to work with the customer to get as many ideas from them as possible, we also gave ourselves fairly strict schedules to accomplish our “work packages”, dropping or adding features as time would allow.  This was a very developer centric way to work - which for us as developers is great but it would be interesting to explore this in a slightly more controlled situation.

Mobile Devices Development - This was  a great exposure to work with mobile devices and explore what is possible.  This is not something that we would have been able to explore without the funding.  To have some time to do this with some leisure has been a great learning experience.

Threats

I am not sure that I can really add any threats to the project from a development perspective after the fact but I think I can easily say that when we started we had no idea how to do this.  It was based on some ideas, scraps of paper and some bits of code.

Well that’s a very brief round up of some of the development process of this little prototype

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Project Evaluation

Oops manage to miss most of the official Progress Report blog posts. In truth all of the content is located through our posts, but an extended reflection follows:

So WTT is proving to be a rollercoaster, but one that has stayed well on its tracks!

lets go through some SWOT…

Strengths: attributes of the person or company that are helpful to achieving the objective.

So unlike many applications that i’ve been involved in the project team didn’t really know each other, at all! But this has proved to be a stunning strength. Due to not knowing each other, everyone has retained a professional approach and has listened carefully to each others positions to maximise the project. There is no ego, no driver, and everyone is learning to appreciate each others skills and interests to make the project work. The Div Apps guys are amazing, so many times i’ve worked with developers who want to push their own agenda placing the project in jeopardy, but Peter and Petra seem to just get on with stuff and are able to solve problems with tenacity and enthusiasm. ECA end is ok, in truth the rapid innovation is really a tech thing, so once the creative parameters were established we just sat back - an extraordinary comfort and privilege! But thats not strictly true because communication and reflection has always been very good indeed.

Weaknesses: attributes of the person or company that are harmful to achieving the objective

Weaknesses are relative i guess, we’re trying something pretty ambitious things here and pushing the envelope is always going to have some fallout. We might reflect upon the decision to go web app one day - but the pay offs with the web app are immense as the phones get faster. Even the new 3GS has suddenly added more speed to what was a slow web app. If we’d had a bigger team (budget) we may have had more chance to trial a proper app. But then we’d have cut out our Google audience. There a cool app here http://emergencestudios.com/historicearth/ and they clearly have gone for the single platform killer app. Doesn’t look as though the blue dot falls though - this is critical for the embodying the map within the user experience.

Opportunities: external conditions that are helpful to achieving the objective.

I think the gap between institutions  (ECA and UE) is good - they work very professionally and the college are bit sloppier - not bad sloppy but just creative sloppy. Div Apps are tight and well ran with Dave at the helm checking our every move. In the big wide world i’m still stunned that people don’t question the Google tiles, so despite being an incredibly obvious business / creative move to swap them the world seems prefixed with navigating the present. I guess we’re also lucky with EDINA - access to alternative map tiles is not easy, and with EDINA on your doorstep and with James and Ben providing so much constructive support we’re very lucky indeed.

Threats: external conditions which could do damage to the objective.

Well the world does catch on, and http://emergencestudios.com/historicearth/ is a good and close app to ours. It clearly has difference objectives and we need to identify ours (social dimensions, community and the fact that its a web app). Our biggest catch may be the licensing behind the EDINA maps, with the best support in the world, James can’t make the maps visible to the public on a wide scale yet - not without somebody paying for the license! We need to get some press soon, and we need a work around really to make this app as successful as it possibly can be. Hence making the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJwYv-6wgf8 but this needs more work  - my use of grammar is under rapid innovation ;) Users so far seem keen and enjoy the moment of going back in time, so we’ll continue to develop toward their suggestions.

all for now

Chris

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