Applications

XML Editor for the Mac

Just got this from a colleague at work. For all you MAC users out there who work with XML, this is something that could be of interest.

Morphon XML-Editor

How does IE affect web standards?

How does the news that Microsoft are withdrawing IE as a free browsers and instead bundling with MSN for Mac and Windows affect web standards? WaSP has an interesting commentary on the subject.

Scout Portal Toolkit: Open Source Digital Library Application

Since I blogged the Gassie presentation earlier, I thought I should mention one of the applications she chose for the digital project. Scout Portal Toolkit is an open source (requires PHP and MySQL) application that allows an organization to maintain a library of resources via a web site. The application with the following features: configurable metadata tool with a field set based on Dublin Core; vocabulary control; fielded searching (in advanced search); user annotation; email alerting and the ability save search strategies; and a recommender system. I was impressed with the demo, so I installed on my system and have been evaluating it for the past week. Last year I suggested to some Drupal friends that I would like to develop a libary-type module for that application that would use the DC metadata elements. Of course, life being what it is, I never got to that. I may forgo coding something for myself in favor of just using SPT because it seems pretty robust.

Anacubis: Visualization tool for navigating a finite info. space

At the SLA conference this year I got to demo Anacubis. I don't often see anything too interesting in the exhibition halls of library & info. sci. conferences, but this tool caught my eye. Based on the investigative software used by police in England and developed by i2 Group, Anacubis is a visualization front-end for data sets. The demos that showed included a front-end for Dun & Bradstreet company research, Lexis Nexis Legal databases, and intellectual property databases. In the D&B example, once you are viewing a company's information you can browse customer, competitor and subsidiary companies, as well as view officers visually. I've seen some application of similar visualization tools -- mostly it seems social network and map-based stock market visualizations have been around -- but this seems to be the first major commerical entry in the area of commercial information provision. I can see major advantage in the visualization of patent information, for example. This kind of information can be invaluable to companies looking to protect their patents and visualization tools can certainly help exploit our visual senses, which are more efficient/quicker when it comes to picking out patterns of information.

You can view a demonstration of their tool here.

Typepad Screenshots

The creators of the blogging application MoveableType are launching a hosted service called Typepad. There's now screenshots of the new UI, and it looks much cleaner than MoveableType's interface. Definitely a hotly contested race to see who can make blogging easy for the masses, with Blogger Pro being the other visible contender.

However much I like MoveableType though, I can't help thinking that Microsoft or AOL will be the one to take blogging mainstream.

Data visualization through facets

Pointed out by Steve Mulder on SIGIA: Iokio has a demo of a product selection tool that uses different facets to choose a digital camera. Sliders allow the user to adjust cost, weight, and resolution with real time feedback on available models. Thanks to Joe, who discovered a direct link to their Camera Finder Demo.

Piles of documents

Some interesting speculation on Mac Rumors about Apple integrating a finder feature called Piles that creates a finder metaphor based on the physical act of viewing/sifting through a pile of documents on a desktop in meatspace. Here's a description from an earlier Tog article.

Apple holds a patent on this one. Developed by Gitta Salomon and her team close to a decade ago, a pile is a loose grouping of documents. Its visual representation is an overlay of all the documents within the pile, one on top of the other, rotated to varying degrees. In other words, a pile on the desktop looked just like a pile on your real desktop.

To view the documents within the pile, you clicked on the top of the pile and drew the mouse up the screen. As you did so, one document after another would appear as a thumbnail next to the pile. When you found the one you were looking for, you would release the mouse and the current document would open.

Piles, unlike today's folders, gave you a lot of hints as to their contents. You could judge the number of documents in the pile by its height. You could judge its composition very rapidly by pulling through it.

HelloWorld - socially networked software

Cooperating Systems released a downloadable version of HelloWorld this week. HelloWorld aims to create a platform for "social computing".

Alongside the chat, file transfer, personal publishing, HelloWorld displays geographic visualization of nodes in the network. I'm not sure what level of detail the visualization has - my own social network has multiple nodes close together. Not sure how well I can separate a cluster of 8 people in Edmonton at the level shown in the screenshots.

This social computing brochure (2.5mb pdf for 3 pg doc?) concisely captures CoSi's ambition. The Reviewer's Guide (800kb pdf, 36 pages) provides more depth.

They have a market is the conversation discussion area with topics on social computing, their product, etc. (thanks Yarone)

CardZort card sorting software

Darin Marshall points to Jorge Toro's CardZort card sorting software.

CardZort is a computer application that runs card sorting exercises. Its main purpose is to offer a complete computer-aided system that allows the fast creation and execution of card sorting exercises, and the analysis of the resulting groups via cluster analysis.

Darin says it's less buggy than EZsort - I'm looking forward to trying it out. If it works, then it's well worth the $50 Jorge is asking from people using it for 'professional/lucrative purposes'.

A web-based application to semi-automate site map creation

I started working with GraphViz this month and have created a web-based application that converts tab delimitted text files into diagrams. The sole purpose for the application at this point is to turn site inventories or IA hierarchies into clickable site maps like this.

Before you ask why I bothered to do this, I'll give a little history. Immediately after writing the article Automating Diagrams with Visio for Boxes and Arrows I began to see that I didn't want to draw circles, boxes, lines, etc. anymore. That hacky process I used served its purpose. But over the past year I have learned to let databases and scripting languages to the heavy work we normally do in applications like Excel, e.g. content inventories, site architecture (capturing page/node data and parent child relationships). But I still have the need to work with Excel or plain text files for some of the smaller sites I work on outside of my day job. So I still do the site architecture in Excel and now I can do the diagramming in GraphViz.

So try out the app and let me know if you are doing anything similar or see other uses for this thing.

UPDATE: Added a few options including hierachical or radial layout, box or circle shapes, fill or no fill, and shape and font coloring options so you can now create diagrams like this.

Content Management Dissatisfaction

Both the SIG-IA list and a CMS list have surfaced an interesting thread today in regards to an article published at At New York, Study: Content Management Tools Fail. It discusses some high level findings from a Jupiter Research report on the dissatisfaction around the implementation and maintenance of Content Management Systems. I don't have access to the report, but very interesting.

OmniGraffle UI palette

Robert Silverman's OmniGraffle GUI palette is nice. Is meant for designing cross-platform interfaces although you can see hints of Mac OS X in the shapes. Contains most of the standard widgets you'd expect in an application builder.

Microsoft & Digital Permissions Management

It looks as though Microsoft is looking into XRML for their rights management. More information at The Register:

Microsoft devs Windows Rights Management Services
By John Leyden

Diagramming software

I've been reminded of AT&T Labs' GraphViz again, most recently by a Drupal developer who's writing code to draw diagrams from Drupal's database. Lately, my organization has been pushing to get reports of user data. The reports we get generated from our sysadmin are mostly raw dumps of data that have some columnar formatting. What we're looking at right now is using log files to auto-generate diagrams that show usage data. Should be fun. If you've done this sort of thing with GraphViz before I'd love to hear about your experience. I've downloaded the Mac OS X package and am learning the languages now.

Other semi-automated diagramming packages (gleaned from the Tulip site).

Ideagraph - interesting project for semantic/RDF/topic map folks

Ideagraph is a "Personal Knowledge Manager" that is in early beta. It is intended to eventually be a commercial product, but is currently free to download.

Apple's Word killer

The rumors are floating around that Apple will be releasing a professional word processing application. This should come as no surprise, given that the company has released Keynote, a PowerPoint replacement.

Track discussion of this rumor via Blogdex.

Frames and global navigation patented

I didn't believe this when I read it on other blogs, but Prodigy is claiming that in 1996 they patented web site global or primary navigation. There's a story on this topic in the NY Times. Something really has to be done about how patents get awarded. Why on earth would anyone want to pursue royalties on an interface design element such as navigation menus? I'm sure someone can make the claim that the design of persistent menus can be traced back to non-web interfaces and argue that these types of menus are not a new thing. This would be a good time to use the Internet Archive's way back machine, in this case to find some pre-1996 example of global navigation.

More from the article:

    When British Telecom claimed in 2000 that it had patented the Web's ubiquitous hyperlink, the Internet erupted in a fit of protest that lasted until the company lost its test infringement case against Prodigy Communications last summer.

    But that has not stopped Prodigy's parent company, SBC Communications, from asserting a patent claim on a Web navigation technique nearly as widely used. According to letters SBC sent out last week, the company believes that any Web site that has a menu that remains on the screen while a user clicks through the site may owe it royalties.

Social Network Analysis Management Tool

Just stumbled onto this tools called Huminity that creates a contacts management web of all the people you know. I thought it would be interesting for folks interested in social networks.

Apple Safari browser

Wow. Apple has developed a web browser for OS X. Safari is available as a public beta at the moment. It has the same feel as the other iTools. Coolest feature for me is spell checking in form fields. Right click on words see correct spelling. Can underline in red words that spelled miscorrectly. Yippee! I just hope they implement tabbed browsing like Mozilla browsers. I hate having to open new windows.

Will post links to reviews as I find them in the news aggregator. Currently being discussed at:

* Dive into Mark
* web graphics
* 7nights

Heuristic evaluation OmniOutliner template

I don't normally do heuristic evaluations, but I volunteered to do one for Drupal's administration interface. I created a checklist of questions under Nielsen's heuristics and wanted to record my evaluations in a simple bullet list. The template is simply an OmniOutliner file that lists the 10 heuristics, with notes describing each (taken verbatim from Nielsen). I plan to insert bullet points for each of my evaluations under each rubric and export to RTF. At that point I will probably create a PowerPoint presentation or Word document from the RTF and then save as PDF.

Use it if it's helpful to you.

XML feed