CS 401 Blog – Final Stretch

Over the past few weeks, the ideaLab app for the Worcester Art Museum has received the majority of its finishing touches. A lot of the time has been spent communicating with Tim and his colleagues on the visual aspect of the app as a whole; where things are being placed and what colors and images to use. The core functionality of the project is there and ready, it’s just a matter of getting feedback from the higher powers over at WAM and applying the changes that they desire.

On the puzzle’s side of things, it’s much of the same story. We’ve had the finished idea for a few weeks now, but our group has been communicating back and forth with Tim pertaining to a few things. He sent us a layout of a cover page to be the first page one see’s when they visit the puzzle section. This was just a matter of converting these images to the right size and placing them correctly. There was also editing done to the actual page the puzzle is on; images for the buttons have recently been added and other formatting issues have been taken care of.

Overall, this has been an interesting semester. This class provided a fun, and sometimes frustrating challenge. What I really am taking out of it is more than the actual programming and development – I think the class as a whole gained valuable real world knowledge. The process of dealing with a client and working as a group are skills people in the field of computer science must grow accustom to using, and I think this class provided that.

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CS 401 Blog – Week 9

This week saw some major progress in the overall functionality of the complete app. After the results of the testing, teams went hard at work at optimizing their respective contributions to the app to create an even better deployable version. Sever problems were fixed and various bugs at different parts of the app were taken care of.

My teams focus, the puzzle app, saw a major bug in the testing in which the pieces could not be selected by the touch screen of the iPad. Through research, I found a very useful utility called Touch Punch. (http://touchpunch.furf.com/). What Touch Punch does is use simulated events that translate touch events into something that would have been a mouse event on a full size computer. It’s a 1 line fix that modifies some of jQuery’s core functionality. After implementing touch punch, the puzzle was fully operational on the iPad.

Another feature we are currently working on is adding a side bar of images, much like what the coloring team is using. This feature would allow the user to select from a vertical scroll bar of images for the puzzle while on the main page. This should be similar in style to the coloring team’s implementation to hold up the same style profile and give the app a better feeling overall.

CS 401 Blog – Weeks 7 and 8

These past few weeks in CS 401 have had their moments of progress as well as a few setbacks. The main accomplishment was that a working web app, supported by a server to hold all of the different parts of the app, was completed. Even though it was mostly bare boned, it contains the functionality that we need to push out a completed project. The server is able to handle all necessary basic functions that need to be operational in order for the class to make more progress.

Due to the functionality of the server, the different parts of the app were able to be tested on the iPad which they will be run on. This was where a few setbacks occurred, as the iPad was not running a few aspects of the app as well as they were showing up on desktops. With the example of the puzzle, which Ryan, Kathleen, and myself are working on; The puzzle pieces show up on the screen, but are unable to be selected by touch. The shuffle function work and the pieces are correctly sized and shaped, but no actions can be taken on them. This is a bug that we will work on correcting throughout this next week. The sizing is also off on where the puzzle shows up on the screen, but this is a minor issue compared to the issue affecting the main functions of the puzzle, and will be a secondary task for the week.

CS 401 Blog – Week 6

Our class meeting this week was highlighted mostly by gathering useful information from Tim. A few groups demonstrated their progress in their portions of the project for the class and Tim to see. He gave his suggestions to each group so that they could further the functionality of the app on their part. My group (Puzzle app,) demonstrated what we had so far. The main suggestion was that instead of the rectangular pieces we were using in the puzzle, he would prefer for us to use jigsaw shaped pieces.

This resulted in the week becoming a bit more challenging as we had to think of a way to split a picture up into random jigsaw pieces, instead of easy geometric shapes. A lot of research was done and at the end of the week there is a working example that we have, with a few hiccups that hopefully will be ironed out this week.

CS 401 Blog – Weeks 4 & 5

After the week of the first IRC meeting, yet another week of class was canceled due to weather and the class was forced to again meet online via IRC. I was unable to make this meeting, but my group filled me in on what took place during the meeting.

Over the past few weeks, my group, who is in charge of the puzzle app, has made a lot of progress towards the end goal of a finished product. After a lot of research on the HTML 5 canvas and viewing many examples of different implementations, a functional outline was pushed to our groups GitHub account to be available for testing. The program so far, developed as a web app, provides a simple user interface and easy to use puzzle mechanism. At first, there was a problem that arose at more difficult levels of the puzzle (with more pieces.) It was difficult to move around the pieces into their correct positions. With a few adjustments, this was fixed. There is still more work to be done on fine-tuning the canvas around the puzzle, but significant progress has been made.

The next few steps to be taken will include actually testing our web app on the iPads, which is crucial to our group because we need to know what, if any, changes there are in running our app on the iPad compared to on a desktop.

CS 401 Blog – Week 3

This past week in class, we discussed as a group and with Tim about further details of the project, getting a more specific idea of what we are doing. After getting a set of tasks on the board, we split into groups, each tackling a different task. The group I’m in is in charge of the Puzzle app for kids on the iPad.

Most of this weeks work consisted of background research on the languages that will be used to code this part of the app, as well as setting up tools and plugins in Eclipse to create a coding environment for this project. My group members (Ryan and Kathleen,) and I shared links about different code examples we found that could provide resources down the road.

The project however has hit a slight snag due to the snowstorm, and our class won’t get a chance to meet at our normal time on Monday. However, Professor Wurst has set up an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) room to meet and discuss our ideas and hopefully that will fill everyone in on what the different groups have been doing. This will be a tough two weeks because next Monday there will not be an in class meeting as well due to President’s Day, so the class will be on it’s own for a bit. It’s still early on in the development process and hopefully the hiatus from meeting in person won’t end up being hurtful to the project.

CS 401 Blog – Week 2

In class this past week we used our time to visit the Worcester Art Museum and learn more about the project we will be undertaking. We first went over the class requirements and expectations with Professor Wurst, a necessary step in the first class of the semester. We then heard from Katrina Stacy and Tim Furman with more details about the general outline of the project that will be developed. They both seemed like they had a good understanding of what they want to see in a final product, but were also open to new ideas from us, which is a good thing. The rest of the time with them was sort of a mutual brainstorming session, with a couple new ideas being thrown out there; such as the possibility of the project being developed as a web application.

We then ventured upstairs to the conservation lab where work is done to conserve works of art, such as paintings and sculptures, that are hundreds of years old. The director of the lab spoke to us and first gave us a general idea of what they do and what their purpose is. She then showed us the three sculptures that will be the main focus of the project and gave us an interesting history of how they were made, found, and acquired.

Outside of class time, we were told to look over materials concerning HTML 5, Javascript, and CSS languages to prep ourselves for the coding aspect of the project. The background we have as upper level computer science students has given us a solid base to work up from with these languages that aren’t necessarily taught to us in our academic journey. I also found dzone.com an interesting source for news in the development world and also found that it had great reference resources with the refcardz.

I’m looking forward to class tomorrow to see what ideas my classmates have come up with over the rest of last week.