Posts from "July, 2010"

Funky Code: All Things Technical

This blog is intended to cover many different things around Usability and Wireframing and some related stuff we do at pidoco. In some situations we were hesitating with publishing things of our daily work at pidoco that are rather technical and might be a little misplaced in here. Therefore, we started the blog funky code a while ago with some of our fellow students from Hasso Plattner Institute where we can publish all our ideas about web development, working at a startup, project management, or what just comes to our mind.

Today I published the second part of a double blog post on JavaScript testing (first part) and how automated tests can be integrated into a continuous integration server (second part). If you think that such topics could be of interest to you, please feel free to bookmark http://fun.kyco.de or add it to your favorite feed reader. If that is not the case, you won’t be bothered with these things in here anymore.

Eat your own dog food: Designing the next version of pidoco with pidoco

We have been using pidoco ourselves for years. But right now it is getting more interesting since we are working on the next version of pidoco.

In our usual development cycle of three weeks we concentrated on many smaller improvements and little features that help you prototype faster. With the next version we want to implement bigger improvements like adding more structure to the repository and editor, allowing for easier reusing of smaller components within your prototypes, or increasing the flexibility regarding the interactions that you can model with pidoco. This will include the suggestions that we received through our uservoice forum or that were mentioned in our support chat.

Making such big steps will be a nice challenge that we are facing. Currently, we are developing a prototype of the final version that is supposed to include all changes we would like to do. After some initial brainstorming a while ago, Tino started to create the prototype. And he surprised me with some very creative elements, like the little boxes with a ‘V’ inside, which are menus with just one top level entry. They act as simple hover menus, very similar to our current context menu.

Having this initial prototype, we invited some few people to remote usability tests. They were asked by Tino to do some simple tasks, mainly navigating through the given dummy prototype. (Now it’s getting recursive…) Since we used our own tool, we did not have to travel to Frankfurt am Main or Hamburg to meet the people for one hour of test. The complete session was recorded, including all mouse and keyboard interaction and the voice of both Tino and the test participant. That enabled me to review the test sessions, making notes, and collecting all the ideas that arose throughout the tests.

With the notes I spent most of this week in modifying the prototype, applying some simple ideas from the tests, and thinking of solutions for issues we realized during the tests. Following will be an internal review with our team and, possibly in the course of the next two weeks, a further round of remote tests. Until now I’m quite happy how everything worked together. Conducting a test with no setup time, handing over the prototype to different people to work on without any hassle, being able to describe many ideas in the prototype without too much work.

Once we think the concept is kind of finished, the real challenge will start. We do not want to lock our doors for two years and implement the next version in one step. We’d rather like to cut the concept down into manageable pieces that we can implement in a short period of time. Usually, we tried to deploy a new version every third week. This time we might have to break with this rule, but my hope is that we can do most things within 6 weeks (two sprints) or at most 9 weeks, which makes a new version at least every second month. That said, let’s see how it will be in reality. I’ll write some updates every now and then…

Now back to my prototype.