Thursday, 22 March 2012

TM470 TMA01 Result

Results came in yesterday, I scored 80% on the nose. Not a bad start although there still a lot of room for improvement! The general feedback was positive with many section achieving a 1 score although I needed to be more specific around what I was actually building. I captured the problem statement well but I did not do a very good job of saying how I was gong to solve it. My tutor also commented on my frequent reference to a REST interface that I wanted to build and couldn't really understand why, this was partly the result of an unclear description of my intended solution but also simple "why?". It's made me wonder if I actually need one. I was originally forward planning, through an interface it would be straight forward to integrate applications with the service but I could simply be over engineering the solution. Either way I probably want to spend a bit more time defining my solution. The other point that my tutor raised was that it may be slightly ambitious to try and create a fully prototyped, mocked up and polished web ui within the timeframe of the project so scale back, simple is good enough. I'll continue to progress taking the tutors comments on board. I think the realisation that I'm shooting for a fully developed piece of software and actually all the course needs is something that is progressing my learning from my previous studies is darting to sink in. It's all about being academic and reflective in how you approach your project, this is where the marks seem to be, whether the actual devolution is successful or not is somewhat irrelevant.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Balsamiq Mock ups - UI Design

First of all, thanks to fellow OU student William for bringing this to my attention. Balsamiq is a web app that allows you to mock up wireframe user interfaces through a web application or desktop application.

The application can be used for free through the web interface but it will prompt you every 5 minutes to say thank you for using it, otherwise you can get a one month free trial of the web tool followed by a $12 (£8) per month subscription or $79(£50) one off fee for the desktop application. To be honest the free web access with prompts will be more than good enough for my needs, I'd highly recommend it to anyone!

Visit the url here and try it out http://www.balsamiq.com/

Monday, 5 March 2012

TM470 TMA01 Submitted

I've just submitted TMA01 for the TM470 project and it was surprisingly wordier than I was expecting,  coming in at approx 3,900 words although this was including code examples in the appendix so in reality it was probably nearer the 2,750 mark. It took me about 10 hours to complete and was a nice way to bring together the preparatory and exploratory work that I have carried out around my project.

The one thing I did find that took a little while was the literature review, which involved citing lots of books and websites that I had been reading. The OU specify the Harvard system as their chosen method of referencing however they don't force you to use it, as long as you are consistent with the referencing you method you adopt you are free to use any (recognised) referencing method.

This was very useful as I came across a fantastic referencing system called http://www.easybib.com/. This tool allows you to automatically Cite references by typing in a URL or an ISBN number. Just select the tab from across the top that is appropriate to the media you are referencing and it automatically retrieves the details. You are able to modify and clean up the citation accordingly then add it to your list of citations. Lists can be saved and added to in the future, I signed in using my Google account but it also supports Open ID, Facebook etc so it is very easy to get started. Once my list was compiled it was a simple case of copying it and pasting it into my TMA fully referenced in the MLA6 format. This is obviously not the Harvard system that the OU recommends but it is perfectly acceptable, you can also switch formats automatically and the tool will convert all your references.

I'd highly recommend this and will be using it for all my citations during this project.

Simon