The Pattern Language Network

Taming web2.0 in Higher Education

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our code development

The Story of the Planet Platform

Posted by yishaym on March 31, 2009

True to the dogfood principle, we now have a case study on the development of the Planet platform. An amazing tale on international mystery and intrigue. Well, maybe not – but if you’re working in a UK HE institure and thinking of launching an ambitious web2.0 project, you might find our experience informative.

Or, if you have been involved in a similar project, we would be curious to know: does this resonate with your experiece?

Its all there (in brief): the original plan, what went smoothly, what went wrong, and where we are at the end of the day. Enjoy!

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Posted in about us, announcements, case studies, code, notes from the field, reporting | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

We – have – A – P – I!!

Posted by yishaym on December 23, 2008

Thanks to the good work of Ajdin, we now have an HTML API that serves Patterns and Cases in XML, PLML, RSS or CSV. I’ve also added a generic API, which allows you to browse all object in the system in XML/HTML.

The intention here is to allow other design pattern / learning design repositories to interface with our system programmaticaly with as little effort as possible. Other systems could list our objects, include them in searches, support easy linking, or offer an alternative interface (read only, for now).

More should be coming, so you might want to watch http://patternlanguagenetwork.myxwiki.org/xwiki/bin/view/api.

But there’s also a caveat: we’re still in the experimental / conceptual phase. These APIs work, but they are also subject to change. We give no guarentees of backward compatibility. So if you use them, make sure you wrap them with an abstraction layer on your end.

Posted in code, outputs, related projects | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

“language” attribute on patterns?

Posted by yishaym on October 16, 2008

Our cases have a “group / workshop” attribute. This is because we collect them from various communities, and the participants in these communities want to quickly find their peer’s contributions. We didn’t have a similar attribute for patterns, thinking that the whole point of patterns is to promote generality and knowledge transfer. Now, that is still true, yet on the other hand we can see several distinguishable (if not distinct) languages emerging. Patterns for e-Assessment are a cluster apart from HCI patterns etc. After all, this is the pattern language network.
So, should we add a “language” attribute to patterns? Should it be single or multiple choice?

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Cloudworks, pattern aggregators, and some news from the Planet platform

Posted by yishaym on September 29, 2008

Last week Jim, Steve and myself were invited to a Cloudfest with the Cloudworks team. A lot of interesting stuff came up (see George’s post). Among them, the question of sharing design objects (patterns, resources, etc.) across sites and the visual aspects of design objects. This resonated well with some the conversations we’ve been having here, as well as with recent discussions on hillside’s pattern languages mailing list.

We’ve been talking about the structure of a design pattern. The jury is still out on the definitive form, but we all agree that having visual elements is integral to a design pattern. So now our template includes slots for icon”, “illustration” and “diagram”. The icon appears in indices, the illustration appears at the top – as part of the motivation or inspiration for the pattern, and the diagram elaborates the solution. All three are optional, of course.

The issue of sharing information across sites is subject to a hot debate. When I record a pattern in our system, how do users of other repositories find it? In the case of Cloudworks, the idea is to broker design knowledge between communities – how do you populate the system? Part of the answer is in agreeing on a wire protocol and data format, and keeping them simple. The pattern eXchange section has a first draft of a semantic scheme which could be the basis for such a duo. Another part is indexing the aggregators (repositories, search engines, brokers) out there.

What else is new on the platform?

Well, the pattern and case study templates are slowly getting out of their teething phase. Email notifications are active (albeit clumsy). So, good progress – but if you’re looking for a programming project, we always have something interesting to offer.

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PatternSeer and the Planet platform: this looks like the beginning of a wonderful friendship

Posted by yishaym on July 16, 2008

I met Ademar Aguiar at EuroPLoP last week (note to self: need to report on the conference, it was a great event). Ademar is a long-standing member of the pattern community and something of a WikiGuru, he’s one of the organizers of WikiSym, but I’m digressing.

Ademar and his students are working on PatternSeer.org, which is a web2.0-esk clearing house for all things pattern. PatternSeer allows you to submit design patterns and pattern related papers, rate them, discuss them and share them. Needless to say, it allows you to search across sites.

This covers just about everything that the Planet platform doesn’t do. We provide a structured participatory methodology for developing patterns and pattern languages, and the authoring tools to support that. We’re strong on the editing and storage, but pathetic on the social aspects and cross-site search.

This has mashup written all over it. We need a pattern language interchange API, which would allow PatternSeer to crawl the Planet platform and the the Planet platform to piggy-back on PatternSeer for search and social features. And here’s the first shot at a project spec.

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Internships with the Planet project

Posted by yishaym on May 27, 2008

We’re having our own “summer of code”. Planet is offering one or two intern opportnities for students of computer science or related fields.

Interns will contribute to the exploration of novel forms of knowledge representation, organisation and visualision in this domain. A solid knowledge of a high level programming language (e.g. Java) is essencial, as is a creative approach to web development.
Please note that this is not a paid position.

For further details, contact: Yishay Mor.

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Guest post: Justin Smith on “Collaborative Thinking for a Pattern-Based Knowledge System”

Posted by yishaym on April 21, 2008

Justin runs a blog called Designing a Sustainable World. He’s also involved in the Liberating Voices! project, which has been a great inspiration for me. Over the last few weeks, we’ve come to realize that there’s a lot in common between what we’re planning for our system, and what he’s hoping to develop for his projects. I thought the best way to share our thoughts and broaden the circle of discussion is to invite him to do a guest post on our blog. So without further ado, I give you Justin Smith:


So for the last year or so following the conclusion of a research project focused on a socio-technical pattern language (Liberating Voices!) I have been left thinking of ways in which patterns could be made more accessible to a broader audience. One of the many ideas that came to the fore of my attention was that pattern language users need more appropriate technical systems, specifically designed to support pattern development, and perhaps more importantly, pattern use for real-world problem solving. This perceived need was a central outcome of the research, and has prompted further investigation leading me into a PhD program where I could focus my attention specifically on addressing this issue.

About a year ago I had the honor of running into Yishay Mor (virtually) on a mailing list dedicated to pattern languages. Based off of our subsequent conversations it quickly became apparent that many of our ideas and interests were parallel, even though his work is centered on education, whereas mine is focused on natural resource management. Nevertheless, over the past several months we have continued to uncover increasing similarities in our ideas for promoting and developing pattern based systems.

Now, in the past few days an interesting conversation has developed. He and a group of colleagues have been actively mapping out the specs for creating just such a system, following their own research outcomes. Recognizing that we are essentially working on the same project we have begun to share some ideas. With that in mind I have put together a synthesis of some of these conversations.

In addition to the things that have already been defined as necessary components for the system, we have come up with some other things to consider.

1.) Patterns as Hubs, where case studies are linked as evidence for a particular pattern, as well as case studies linked to provide insight into how pattern users applied specific patterns and the outcomes associated with the work.

2.) Pattern Visualization (with several different approaches to include: mind-maps, concept maps and influence diagrams)

3.) Versioning to track the evolution of visualized pattern maps (addition to current versioning of text-based patterns)

4.) Ability to provide geographic boundaries to place based patterns (GIS/Google Maps?)

5.) Ranking of pattern relevance to specific forces/context to aide in pattern searching (similar to an Expert System)

6.) Parallel Development of Django/Google Appengine based version of the proposed system

7.) Interchangeable API between Appengine pattern system and Java based pattern system (enable easy communication between pattern systems built on different platforms)

By adding these pieces to the specs or at least in reiterating the importance of the pieces already described in the system, we can hopefully construct an application that can be usable across multiple domains. In this sense, by providing a range of capabilities this system could be just as useful for people working in the education field as for those working in natural resource management. Following an implementation of these components or at least some derivation of them, it will then be useful to see how such a system supports the work of educators and resource managers.


Justin G. Smith
Research Assistant,
Washington State University
Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology
http://www.ctlt.wsu.edu

Blog: http://heuristicthinking.blogspot.com/
Website: http://publicsphereproject.org

Posted in code, musings, related projects | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Something happening on the Wiki

Posted by yishaym on January 28, 2008

The PLaNet system will be based on an open source Java wiki. We’re not sure yet which (we have three candidates). It would make sense to use the system to conduct its own development discussion – identify requierments, agree on specifications, etc. Of course, there’s a chicken & egg issue here.

So to kick-start the discussion, we’ll use the googlecode wiki. That should see us through to the first prototype, and then we’ll migrate.

There are several pages there, in a very raw state, waiting for your comments. Unfortunatly, googlecode does not support page change notifications (yes, that is a requirement for our system). So if you leave a comment or edit a page, please send an email to the mailing list (or leave a comment here, saying that you’ve left a comment there).

Right now, three pages are waiting for your insights:

    WikiHome: General introduction to the code site.
    EnvironmentSpec: Overview of our deployment and development environment.
    MethodologySpec: Overview of our methodolgies for developing the language, the tools to support it, and the instruments to evaluate both.

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