Friday, December 17, 2010

Solar Decathlon Design 3

For this third round of design for the Solar Decathlon's home management system, my team and I developed a web application using HTML, CSS, and Wicket.  We used our Balsamiq mockup designs from earlier on as the basis for the general look and feel of each page.  However, our actual implementation in HTML turned out to be dramatically worse than the look of our mockup design.  We decided to break off from our initial design and gave the interface a major facelift.

Balsamiq mockup design
First round of implementation
Second round of implementation

As seen above, we simply tried to mimic our mockup designs during the first round of implementation.  After a short presentation/demo, we incorporated some of the feedback we received into the second round of design.  A few changes included a sleeker navigation bar and tooltip alerts in the upper right hand corner.

In terms of fulfilling the three prime directives of software engineering, I feel that we were successful in 1) developing a system that accomplishes a useful task  2) developing a system such that an external user can install and use the system  3) developing a system that can be understood and enhanced by another developer.  Our Wiki pages help to satisfy these directives by providing user and developer documentation for our web application.

If we were given additional time to work on our web application, we would continue to improve the look and feel by adding more colors and images.  Functionality-wise, we would add a right-side column to each page that offered tips and educational content.  For example, the right-side column of the Aquaponics page would explain what pH is, why it is important, how it affects the fish in the tank, and recommendations for controlling the pH level.  Due to time constraints, we could not implement this feature before the deadline.

Prior to working on this project,  I had minimal experience with HTML and I knew nothing about CSS.  Now I can do basic web development using both technologies in conjunction with Wicket.  In addition, I gained an entirely new perspective on project management.  Each member of the team started out with varying degrees of experience in web development so we had to work with each other's strengths and weaknesses.  We also had to deal with time conflicts due to work and final exams, but we managed to squeeze in a very fruitful meeting with 3/4 members before the deadline.  All in all, we learned to deal with it and contributed what we could to the success of the project.

Download our web application here or visit our project site here.

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