Changes to the Aktions Project
The Aktions project incorrectly assumed the needs of its users. We assumed that massive, anonymous information is superior to smaller, focused information. This decision was refuted by the KDE Usability team. We considered their arguments and discovered more merit in their ideas than ours. Our methodology accounted for this event; as such, our project requires few modifications. Those that it does require simplify our design.
The second spiral of Aktions incorporates a few broad changes. The first change integrates the routing service into the API. Second, the data viewer has become a usability test administration console. Finally, platform independence was dropped. These changes are detailed in the next section.
- Data Retrieval Program changed to Administrative ConsoleThe data retrieval program lacked functionality for proper on usability studies. The administration console incorporates the data retrieval program, along with the following additional functionality:
- Create usability tests (questions, tasks, messages)
- Annotate data with comments
- Start, stop, pause, and resume tasks and questions during usability tests
- Run Time Collection Daemon replaced with KAction IntegrationA run-time collection daemon was originally planned for the second or third spiral. A KDE Developer recommended incorporating the same functionality within their KAction object. We agree. Aktions will be linked directly to the KDE base libraries. We anticipate this will simplify development, but delay acceptance into the core project.
The KDE developers rejected the idea for collecting anonymous usage statistics, stating that detailed statistics would be more useful in the long-run.
- Centralized Routing Service
The centralized routing service is unnecessary. It was originally created to ensure proper anonymization. Without the need to anonymize users, the cost to maintain this functionality becomes too great.
- API Demonstration
Aktions integrates directly into the kde base libraries. This integration removes the need to demonstrate how to instrument code.
- Platform Independence and C-Style ABI
This goal was judged too ambitious for the team to complete. Aktions now requires the KDE base libraries and Qt. This absolves implementation disputes and thus streamlines development. It also increases the potential functionality of Aktions by enableing KDE technologies.
New Potential Features
While determining the direction of Aktions, brainstorming for replacement functionality occurred. A brief list of functionality that may be included in future releases follows:
- KDE Kiosk Integration
During a usability test, it may become necessary to disable features within the administrative console. Proctors could disable the administrative console via the KDE Kiosk.
- Survey Creation Plugin
Many usability tests are supplimented with surveys of the participant. The ability to integrate these surveys within Aktions would increase its utility greatly. Common templates could be provided for the most popular surveys.
- Aktions IO Slave
KDE provides a pluggable resource system, KIO. Creating an IO slave to handle Aktions resources allows any application to request information from Aktions.
- KParts Integration
Building the administration console using KParts technology allows the system to be easily extensible. It would also allow other applications to load and use those extensions seamlessly.
- Remote Configuration
The administration console may remotely administrate usability tests on several machines. It could migrate application settings, collect test data, and begin and end tests remotely.
- Reporting Tools
Reports could be provided for common studies. These reports could either be built directly into the administrative console, or provided for use in a third party application.
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