Pairing People with Mind Maps

16 06 2013

In my article ‘Molecules and Art’ I talked about bios, researches, and arts as applications of mind mapping.

This article gives some examples of pairing users and developers, or generally speaking, pairing people with different skills.

  • Developers are technicians and users are users.
    Cloudy error messages and technically oriented manuals are not what users should expect after purchasing a software product.
  • Salesman need a brief overview of the product’s key features.
  • Managers have to explain their strategies to the midlevel staff.

Is there an effective method to seamlessly connect people with different skills and hence talking different ‘languages’?

Mind maps may bridge the gap. Here are some examples.

Databases …

Users of software applications don’t want or are not able to think about the appropriate file management for the data they have to work with. Developers usually don’t want to deeply engage in the specific fields of activity of their users.

So how can developers be paired up with users?
Or in other words:
What is a common platform for technical and functional responsibilities?

Mind maps may help as they reflect the requirements of users as well as the more technical thoughts of developers.
Here are the fields available in Tap Forms HD database app for the iPad.

20130408-200627.jpg

Both, developers and users can bare their thoughts in a mind map.
There are no special skills required to use this common platform for the description of tasks and the communication. Different skills of users and developers are leveled to a graphical view of the task and therefore communication is enhanced.

The result may be a more efficient software application and the mind maps may serve as a common knowledge base for future updates and improvements.

UI design …

A further benefit could be the disclosure of inconsistencies in the UI design. See my mind map about the Security Settings of an iOS device where settings are widely spread over lots of sections in Apple’s settings app.

20130408-200643.jpg

This mind map may be also used as a manual for security settings.

Feature description …

See this mind map which describes all features of the mind mapping app iThoughts HD for iPad, developed by Craig Scott, UK.

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Update descriptions …

My demand:

Each operating system should have an integrated viewer (an engine for displaying mind maps which is open to the developers to fill with content) which provides interactive usage of mind maps as a replacement for textual descriptions. Think of a help system where you can expand the topics you are interested in.

Mind maps are simply more attractive with additional usability. The well-known ‘Search’ implemented in help systems is also available in mind maps. So there is no need for textual descriptions any longer. Admittedly this is only valid for applications with a strong focus on ‘easy-to-use’ and mostly ‘self-explaining’ features. If there is a need to comment all topics mind maps loose their simplicity and textual descriptions are more effective.

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Sales offers …

Developers can explain the main features of a new device by creating a mind map.
Salesman and potential customers can use this map to easily inform about features of the product.

Tap on an image to enlarge the whole map or the snippets.

The benefits are that shop assistants can easily assimilate the features by the brain and remember them a longer time.

Problem descriptions …

Whenever you are confronted by a problem mind maps help you see all the issues and how they relate to each other. They also help professionals to quickly get an overview of how you see different aspects of the situation, and their relative importance.

Explaining strategies …

Industry leaders develop strategies which have to be explained to teams.
Mind maps are suitable for communicating the objective of a project, the different tasks involved, and most importantly the role and function of everyone in the team.
Part of being a good leader is being an effective communicator.

Training events …

The usual and I think a bit old-fashioned way is to use Powerpoint/Keynote presentations e.g. for software applications training.
There is always just one slide visible and if there is a need to scroll back you cannot see the slide where you came from.
In a mind map just expand a branch and after finishing the discussion collapse it and continue with the previous topic.

Related links …

Molecules and Art

Remarks to Mind Mapping

Mind Map vs Textual Pages

Blog Summarizer

Apple on Biggerplate.com

Databases and Mind Maps

Mind Mapping (3)

Mind Mapping (2)

Mind mapping (1)

Comments and Likes are highly appreciated.
Thanks for dropping by.





App Development + Marketing

31 05 2013

For non-jailbroken iOS devices apps can only be purchased and installed via Apple’s App Store which opened on July 10, 2008. Developers forward their products to Apple where they are reviewed first. After a successful approval test Apple releases the app and users can download it from the App Store.

NOTE

iOS jailbreaking is the process of removing the limitations on Apple devices running the iOS operating system through the use of software and hardware exploits – such devices include the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Apple TV. Jailbreaking permits root access to the iOS operating system, allowing the download of additional applications, extensions, and themes that are unavailable through the official Apple App Store. Jailbreaking is a form of privilege escalation, and the term has been used to describe privilege escalation on devices by other manufacturers as well. The name refers to breaking the device out of its ‘jail’, which is a technical term used in Unix-style systems. A jailbroken iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS can still use the App Store, iTunes, and other normal functions, such as making telephone calls. Restoring a device with iTunes removes the jailbreak.
(Wikipedia)

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Registering as a developer (individual or company) costs 99$ per year.
You have to fill out all the information necessary for the app – icon, description, pricing, assigning of an app category like ‘Utilities’, etc.
Once the forwarded app is approved by Apple and available in the store, you can monitor all the analytics on the back side of it: number of downloads, profit, reviews written by the users, etc.

Apple gets a 30% profit sharing for each purchased app.

With this strategy Apple’s App Store ranks #1 among all stores for mobile devices. The benefit for Apple is an increase in turnover regarding software and as a consequence even hardware.

Links to further information …

Classification of apps …

When we talk about costs of app development we should first classify them.
This article excludes free apps which are almost designed for promoting services or developed by individuals who just like programming or want to carve out a way to success in getting commissional work.

Speaking in broad strokes apps may be classified as follows:

  • Table-Based Apps
    The app allows access to hierarchically organized data. Opening the app displays topics and often a Search-Field where you can enter a term. the app then displays topics matching the term. Tapping on a topic displays related information.
    Examples: dictionary, product description with parts lists
  • App based on Complex Databases
    This type of app is an extension to simple table-based apps with improved features of parsing out content. Often included is an online access that allows updating of the database to always work with actual data managed on a webserver. A simple solution is to download updated on demand and store them permanently in a local folder of the device. So the user is independent of a working internet connection. A more complex solution is the retrieval of updated records when needed.
  • Apps Improving Built-In Features
    iOS provides tons of features developers have access to. But some of Apple’s built-in apps don’t meet the requirements of users. With the camera you can take photos of several pages of a document. You will need an additional app to convert these image files into a single PDF, the scanned document.
    A typical example is Readdle’s app Scanner Pro where scanned documents additionally may be organized in folders.
  • Fully Dynamic Apps
    Similar to the database driven apps, these apps are the kind that rely purely on external information – Apps for social networking like Twitter, Weather Pro, WordPress, etc. usually there is Read-Write access to webservers (read tweets for displaying them, write new tweets).
    Some apps additionally provide encryption when transferring data from or to the device.
  • Apps for Creating Data
    The user enters the content (writes letters, creates spreadsheets, or presentations, annotates PDFs), manages storage places (local folders and cloud storages), uses convert algorithms (Microsoft Word to Apple Pages) and shares documents with other users. Typical apps of this kind are Apple’s iWork suite, Tap Forms Database, iThoughts Mind Mapping, Adobe Reader, etc.
  • Games
    These have the largest range of complexity, starting with something as simple as a PONG type functionality (PONG=one of the earliest video games by Atari) all the way up to a 3D physics engine that does high speed air racing. Scoring points, incorporating the user experience through the physical movement of the device, and hooking into Game Center are all possible.

The programming language …

For iOS apps Apple provides it’s programming language xCode.
For a short impression look at this video.
It explains some lines of programming and the result on the iPhone’s screen.

The costs of development …

There is no trustworthy stats about the absolute cost of an app based on the above mentioned classification. You will find developers doing everything for $1000 and reliable companies offering complex apps for $500,000.

I myself develop complex software for auditors based in Microsoft Access Databases. The experience is: calculating the costs of development is intensely distressing and irritating to the nerves. What you plan is almost always not what you release to the customers. Either features are nice-to-have but go beyond the scope of planned costs or the operating system or external modules don’t support what you have in mind or are buggy, or you are not convinced whether the stability of the system is still guaranteed.

Anyway the reality is: Coding is never ready for prime time.

This pie chart is based on a survey of app developers in Germany (source AppDevice).
When looking on it consider that

  • the values are based on A One-Year Fulfillment of an experienced company with creative, reliable, and topic-involved developers
  • there is already a fully functioning infrastructure regarding organizational workflows, technical equipment, online presence, engagement in social media
  • there are intangible assets not considered in the stats
    For being successful the whole company must have the boundless willingness to develop more reliable and innovative solutions than it’s competitors. Perpetual postgraduate professional education of the staff, risk-taking, and a well-organized, quick-response customer support are the indispensable further requirements.

20130329-134240.jpg

For a well-known app I found detailed information about the costs:

The cost of building an iPad app
Twitterific, the most popular twitter app in the App Store (€2.69 about $3.50), was solely built with sweat equity. Craig Hockenberry, the man behind Twitterific, recently revealed how much work was required to build the app: about 1,100 hours. At $150/hour, Twitterific for iPad costs about $165,000 for the code only (the iPad app also used existing code valued at roughly $20,000). On top of that, the design phase cost was about $34,000. Finally, project management, testing, and other costs were around $16,000.

When you add all these numbers together, the cost to build Twitterific is around $250,000 – note that this app does not even use a backend support system, which would have likely doubled the development costs.

As you can see these costs are in no way comparable to the statistical values reported in the survey. As a consequence it’s obvious that all the single steps in the development process strongly depend on the app itself and all the above mentioned influencing factors.

Based on my personal experiences within 35 years with Microsoft Access applications the estimated costs for coding and after-release tasks are not down-to-earth.

An app that extracts data from a database and displays it in a simple list can be expected to take 4-8 weeks to create at a cost of $25,000 on a single platform.
An app with more complex server-side integration and offline data caching will probably take 8-12 weeks and cost $70,000 to develop for two platforms.
A full-scale enterprise automation app with integration to business processes will take anything from 3-6 months and may cost over $150,000 to develop on three platforms.

The short-term investment in creating those first pristine apps is likely to be the tip of the iceberg in terms of people and capital costs. Whether you’re using internal teams for development or contracting with software companies, you’ll need to make a detailed assessment of the short- and long-term costs of supporting the practice.
An app developed today will need to be updated in the future for changing business processes and for operating system updates. It will need to be ported to any new platforms you want to support. According to MGI Research, most mobile apps will experience at least four major update cycles stemming from operating system and device updates in the 2012-2014 time frame.

Other platforms …

If an app is developed for additional platforms like Android or Windows costs are increased by an average of 25% but the increase of potential buyers is nearly 100%. So it makes sense to develop any mobile app for all leading platforms. It seems to be a good investment when looking on the stats of hardware sales.

(Source Businessinsider)
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Further stats …

In the draft version of my article I collected many stats from a wide range of sources.
Nearly half a week I compared more than 60 published statistical values which differ from each other massively. Anyway here are some links but it seems to me that the statistical values are hard to validate.

Summarizing some reliable stats …

These values were published by Apple itself and you can find them in several press releases on Apple Press Info

  • Total downloads: 40 billion
  • App Store accounts: 500 million
  • Available apps: 775k
  • Profit of developers: $7 billion
  • Profit for Apple: $3.5 billion (tax included)
  • Number of available App Stores: 155 seperate countries

Usage …

Goldman Sachs stated that there is a strong challenge for Google.
70% of purchased smartphones are running with Google’s Android operating system, but 60% of the mobile web traffic is generated by Apple’s iOS users.

What are Android users doing with there mobile devices?
Are they just making phone calls and play games?

To Android users:

Please accept my apologies in advance. But a blog written by an Apple fan is nothing without some sarcastic remarks.

Thanks for visiting my blog.





One year without a PC

13 03 2013

About one year ago I kicked off my PC for private use.
This post is about my experiences on using solely an iPad and iPhone.
Could these two Apple devices replace my PC? Are there any disadvantages?

Answering and assessing these questions I first have to describe what I am doing with these two young electronic helpers.

Here are the tasks for me, the iPad and the iPhone …

  • Online – Banking
  • E-Mail communication
  • Writing letters
  • Archiving documents electronically
  • Capturing ideas
  • Organizing private long-term commitments
  • Managing photos, contacts and events
  • Online-Shopping
  • Creating images for blogs
  • Participation in forums
  • Writing blogs

All these tasks can be fulfilled by using an iPad. And others?

I started a topic ‘What iPad cannot do’ on iMore, Everything iPhone and MacTalk Australia forum to ask the members what their opinion is.

A member of MacTalk Australia forum should be separately quoted here because he hit that nail square on the head regarding tasks which are not important for me but for other users …

I don’t think it’s a question of whether you can or cannot do any given thing with an iPad compared to a computer, but rather, how well you can do such things. Like, could an iPad convert video? Maybe, if there was an app for that. But I doubt it’d be able to do it as well as a computer. And even though you can put together movies on the iPad itself, I doubt you’re going to see any serious productions produced entirely on an iPad.

Other opinions …

iMore (TurboTiger)
Accessing sites that require Java Applets. This is why I also have an MacBook Air.

iMore (Alli)
True Multitasking, Multiple Windows, Uploading files to websites (except photos)

MacTalk (Geoff3DMN)
RAW photo editing

MacTalk (glacierdave)
The biggest area where I think this conversion would fall down for many users is financial or business applications. In my area that frequently means finance apps customised for primary production and GIS-style applications for land management. While there’s iPad alternatives for these, they aren’t as widely known and accepted as the current crop of Windows applications and a conversion to iPad would involve some certain pain.

MacTalk (icant)
Can you swat a spider with an iPad? Yes, but not very well. A magazine is preferred. There are some tools to edit Openstreetmap on iOS. But the desktop apps are much better. e.g. JOSM runs on Java.

Everything iPhone (Mugwhamp)
I teach IB literature and theory of knowledge, and I use my iPad 10 hours a day. I make all spreadsheets, docs, and newsletters with the iPad, in addition to messaging and email. I regularly project my lessons on to a screen, use the iPad for note taking in meetings, video and audio record my students’ presentations, make my own presentations, edit PDFs, and edit photos and videos. The ONLY thing I use my laptop for is downloading music and videos and transferring them to the iPad via iTunes. When my laptop dies, I will only keep a home desktop for the aforementioned purpose. I’m definitely post-PC, and I love it. I understand that some technical professionals may need something more, but for the many and varied tasks that I engage in as an educator, the iPad rules. It is most definitely a powerful production tool.

Everything iPhone (Europa)
Running a server, Playing non-iTunes friendly videos (you need a computer to do the live conversion with Air Video and to move them to the phone for playback via VLC), Ripping and converting videos, Burning and playing CDs/DVDs, Updating the firmware on Bluetooth devices, Torrents, Photoshop, Audition, etc., Accessing the file system and making modifications, Running the full version of iTunes, Capturing/recording video that is playing on the screen, Hiding the pesky Newsstand app, Flash video content, Programming, Restoring or applying a full update to the iPad, Jailbreaking, Air Print to an unsupported printer, Computer games

MacTalk (Steeley)
I certainly can’t be a graphic designer with an iPad. The screen size is too small, I can’t use a graphic tablet or mouse, there’s no professional software and, the biggest issue, you cannot colour calibrate an ipad and the existing over saturated colours on iPads are next to useless when designing for print.

iPad in education …

The forum members told us what we cannot do with an iPad.
Here are some links about the usage of iPad in the educational sector.
What we can learn from this is that the iPad falls short in many cases but has substantial benefits in other cases.

Leeds University: Integrating iPads into Universities

Pepperdine University: Research Study on Using iPads

Here are my professional responsibilities …

  • Developing software based on Microsoft Access
  • Updating content of the company-website
  • UI and UX design
  • Software maintenance
  • Deployment of software updates
  • Maintenance of the LAN

iPad and Windows cannot be friends so none of these tasks can be done by the little brother. iPad may only be used for checking things via a remote desktop connection.

The benefits of the iPad …

  • Mobility
  • Use it at a time you need it
  • UI (the user interface)
  • UX (the user experience)
  • Quietness
  • Sharpness of the display
  • Size
  • Basically no need of any peripherals

When I go to the office it’s the way to work with hardware you have known for decades. The first IBM PC was released in 1981 and a bit later it got Windows and a mouse. Since that time there were basically no changes regarding this configuration, nothing what you would call innovative.
The whole machine with its peripherals was just for doing the things you have to do. Did the machine ever motivate you to do new things?

As to the immobility of a PC you have to have your ideas when you sit in front of your desk. But this often doesn’t work. There are ideas coming up just when you do not sit in the office. Even a notebook did not change this none-productive-environment basically.

But the iPad did.

It’s because a touchscreen is much nearer to human activities than any other device. What we do is mostly what we do with our hands. It’s our first approach to new things. Creating artworks, modeling new devices or writing down all the ideas leading to the E=m c c equation on a sheet of paper while walking through the room and reflecting our thoughts is almost always done by hand.

As to limited software capabilities you are forced to find out new ways to organize your work. And these new approaches of modern computing are often easier and more effective. So the machine motivates you to go alternative ways. That’s what we call creativity.

What do you think?
Would this man have been even more creative with an iPad?

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Creativity has nothing to do with any activity in particular – with painting, poetry, dancing, singing or finding out E=m c c.

Anything can be creative – you bring that quality to the activity. Activity itself is neither creative nor uncreative. You can paint in an uncreative way and you can clean the floor in a creative way.

iPad supports creativity by forcing you to do things with your hand. That’s what we learned as we grew up and that’s to what we come back using this kind of machine where the mouse is just eating its cheese and not supporting us.

My opinion might look highly subjective and younger people growing up with these technical marvels cannot understand me. Then you should know that I grew up without any computer you could afford for private use.
My first PC was a Sharp MZ 80K (1978) followed by an IBM PC (1981) and everybody thought these machines are made for working while you first think of an iPad as a gadget just for fun.

Sometimes I boot the IBM PC still residing in our office (which, you won’t believe it, is still working!) and compare it with the iPad. If you had traced this long way you may understand me.

Last but not least let’s hear what EINSTEIN said …

Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.
The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

Summary …

Nobody would use a 40t truck to buy a bottle of milk and nobody would try to transport 20 pupils to school with a Smart. So it’s no rigorous YES or NO to a PC or a tablet. Use the device it’s dedicated for at the right time and at the right place. And that’s definitely not a PC for brainstorming in a coffee shop and it’s not a tablet for doing the relevant tasks in the office.
Like in all other parts of our life we are targeted to use the device which fits best for a task. The only requirement which must be fulfilled is the ability of seamless data exchange between both, the PC and the tablet.

(This post was updated on 2013-05-22)

Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.








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