Monday, June 8, 2009

 On Thursday morning I had a chat with Steve about some use cases. The focus was on scientists - I have to make this into a tool tailored for the scientific community. I think that may be why so many previous applications similar to this have failed: they lacked a specific audience. It's an interesting tool to develop but people need more of an incentive to use it and more of an idea of how and why it is useful.


 The most difficult features to implemnet would most likely be the graph manipulation features, related to clustering nodes. Since this is only the initial version I'll leave those for the end, if I think I have enough time to include them. Since I have the "Searching the web for papers" section completed and working (minor bugs excepted) my next task is going to be working on Save/Restore. I can think of two different ways to do Save/Restore:
  1) Save the data to a formatted XML file
  Pros: Can be viewed by anywhere, it will just open in a browser and all the information will be displayed. 
  Cons: It would be unchangeable, since there is no database annotations could not be changed and the user wouldn't be able to continue on from where they left off. This option only really produces a nice graphic - say for a presentation. 
  2) Dump the database to a .csv file
  Pros: Fully editable and allows the user to continue where they left off.  
  Cons: Overwrites the old session. No immediate way to integrate into something such as a blog post. Can only be viewed in the extension itself.
 Which route I take is really determined by what is more important: portability or changeability. My personal opinion is that the latter is more desired and useful. However, now that I think about it there is nothing preventing me from eventually adding an option like "Export to XML", in addition to the general Save/Restore. 
 While I wanted to to start on the Save/Restore process today I instead chose to improve my code. I spent some time modifying the way that URLs are logged and added to the database, in order to overcome the problem of having multiple root nodes if the user logs URLs in multiple windows. Also, I changed around the way edges are created so that circuits are now possible and don't make the graphing procedure crash. I also modified the insertion procedure so that if there is an edge A -> B then an entry of the form B -> A does not get included.

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