Cleaning up my old hard disks, I found several documents I wrote while I was a working on my masters dissertation, on how researchers could use multimedia as a powerful tool to showcase their work. Few years later, the basis of my essay was used in the creation of Kwik, a Photoshop plugin I’ve created to help designers to create mobile apps from inside Adobe’s tool, without knowing any code. Sorry if images are too small (at that time, monitor resolution was a big issue).
The year is 2005 and I am a student at a multi-disciplinary Masters Program in Education, Arts and History of Culture, with emphasis in multimedia design. I had several experiences (as you probably read already in other postings) as a multimedia and web designer but, for the first time, I was working with a “new audience”: scholars, professors, Masters and PhD students.
Different than most traditional customers, researchers work with data (lots of data), in many cases spread in different file formats (audio, video, text, images, etc) yet, are limited to report back their findings, while defending their thesis, in a 300+ pages of text and a basic presentation. As you can read from my abstract:
Hypermedia is a new language, mainly used in the phases of register and information analysis in a scientific research, making possible a universe of explorations by its spectators. Curiously however, little is seen as final form of presentation of the academic works, either for the tradition of the writing as form of presentation or by the difficulty to find methodologies for development in the language guided the area of the Human beings
In my research, I found that a huge part of this “problem” was related to researchers lack of knowledge on using authoring tools (at that time, Adobe Director/Authorware/Flash, in today’s world, any other development tool), plus the costs of hiring a developer, who would need thousands of hours to understand what is required and how to deliver a job to someone who, in many cases, is still experimenting with several data sources.
So, I decided to document a methodology that I’ve created and used myself in the past, it is called BIAS, an acronym for Basics, Initiation, Assets, and Solution. If you are interested, you can read an article I wrote about it in this posting http://asouza.com/bias-multimedia-methodology-for-researchers/
While BIAS provided good insights on how to prepare material for development, it lacked on important things like cost control, task management and guidance on how to write detailed documentation to developers. With that in mind, I developed a complementary software, called myBIAS, which guided the user on how to create a project, estimate and control costs, provide space for brainstorming, asset management and screen design with note taking on actions expected from each element. When a project was completed, the tool generated a fully detailed report to developer with elements positioning on screens, exported assets and described what each screen element was expected to do when clicked, etc. The link above also talks about myBIAS.
myBIAS was a powerful tool for researchers to speed up designs and reduce costs with external developers. However, it did not generate auto-code for the well documented projects created. At that moment, my expectation was to continue the methodology and the software in my Doctoral program. Life played with me, I got transferred by my employee to the United States, and the prospective PhD student moved on with other things.
The year now is 2010 and, to make things short, I decide to create a Photoshop plugin to help me in the developing of my first iPad app. I have all my app docs organized and my screens designed (remember BIAS?). Then, in Photoshop, I started to attach “actions” like, go to the next page if user click here, or animate this layer from here to position x, y. When I finished all the ideas, I just pressed a Publish button and the app code was automatically generated to me. EXACTLY like I have imagined years ago when I started to put BIAS in place.
Kwik’s audience (children storybook designers) was not the original one I had in mind when I wrote about BIAS (academic researchers), neither the full methodology was applicable to designers. However, the basis were there.
Hint of the day: Design is a process. Sometimes it will come quickly. In most times thou, it will need to mature until you are ready to bring it to life. Save your notes, take pauses when you feel overwhelmed, find other projects. If something is made to be, it will. Once I read a quote that I still believe. It said “when the student is ready, the teacher appears”.