Oct 172011

The STEEV project has deployed the Bug Tracker utility Redmine to capture refinements, tweaks, bugs, feature enhancements on the current state of the demonstrator. These have been gathered as part of the first sweep of the review process. Feedback obtained from other stakeholders (namely, delegates in attendance at the Green Energy Tech Workshop) will also be fed into Redmine.

David Hamill (from goodusability.co.uk) was commissioned to review the STEEV demonstrator for potential usability issues. He found several areas of the interface that could be improved. The most pressing of which were the relationship between the policy-based scenarions and the customisable scenarios compiled from the variable set, and the relationship between the policy scenario controls and the timeline.

The belowmentioned recommendations will also be reviewed and, where applicable fed into Redmine. Our developer (on return from annual leave) will estimate the amount of time required to implement proposed changes. As it stands we aim to have gathered all comment/feedback by the end of October with a view to there being a build freeze shortly after.

The Good usability recommendations are as follows:

  1. Make 2020 the default year so the full controls are released to the user when it loads.
  2. Combine the Present Scenarios and Variables into a single feature with 4 options ( the 3 scenarios and a ‘custom’ option.) and a single submit button .
    If the user moves the controls the currently selected radio button should jump to ‘Custom’ so it doesn’t look as though a preset scenario is being displayed .
  3. Instead of deactivating the controls when the user is in the past, allow the user to create a scenario and if they do so jump to 2020 when they submit it.
  4. Do not rely purely on the slider position to denote the current settings as the sliders can be moved . Consider options for showing the user what the current scenario they are looking at it. If scales were added (see next slide) then the appropriate position on the scale could be highlighted in some way. However this is just one way it could be done.
  5. Provide a scale on the slider to show where the slider can stop. Give each level a tooltip on hover that helps users understand them. The cursor should go to a hand on hover also so that the user understands they can simply click it to get the slider to move to this position.
  6. As explained previously in this report, provide a custom scenario option so the user can see that the preset scenario is not being shown.
  7. Add the short name to the scenario options so the user quickly understands them. This will help the user understand what they are looking at when they see the data.
  8. Combine the output model selection with the legend and show them by default. Allow them (it) to de hidden or minimised by the user.
  9. Use the word ‘forecast’ within the scenario controls in a way that reinforces the idea that this will only generate data for 2020 onward.
    Position the headings for the timeline above the year options rather than having them below. This will make it more likely that they are noticed. Consider also saying ‘Historic data’ and ‘Forecast data’ to reinforce the idea that the scenarios only apply to forecast data.
    Consider providing a stronger visual cue for the currently selected year. Also consider making the forecast years stronger visually than historic years.
  10. Remove the play option and explore ways of allowing users to compare the data across the timeline. This could be through a print option or exporting image files of the data for each year. It could mean generating a PDF that contained the data for each of the years. There are numerous ways of doing this but this Play option is likely to fall short of being useful.
    If it were to remain, the button is incorrectly placed. It’s contextually relevant to the timeline so should be associated with it visually.
  11. Use the word ‘layers’ and an indicative icon for the layer option. Also allow the user to remove either layer.

The Usability Report can be downloaded in full.

 October 17, 2011  Posted by at 12:46 pm General Tagged with:  No Responses »
Oct 142011

30 or so delegates gathered at the temporary home of the Edinburgh Centre for Climate Change to participate in the cross-sectoral Green Energy tech event organised by the JISC-funded STEEV and GECO projects. The event proved to be a very useful forum to exchange ideas on all things green energy-related in the urban space. A dozen or so presentations were squeezed into the half-day programme and as such timing was crucial in order to keep the event on track.

The event was comprehensively live blogged by the EDINA Social Media Officer, Nicola Osborne (so many thanks Nicola!) and the slides available from the GECO blog at: http://geco.blogs.edina.ac.uk/jisc-geco-steev-green-energy-tech-event-e3vis/

The opportunity was taken to ask delegates to test and provide feedback on the STEEV demonstrator by the end of October for inclusion in the final developer sprint towards the finished STEEV tool. An email will be going out to delegates by way of a reminder.

Many thanks to Nicola, Addy and James, and to all the participants for such a stimulating and eclectic set of presentations.

 October 14, 2011  Posted by at 5:07 pm General Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Oct 122011

One day until the joint STEEV/GECO-organised Green Energy Tech Event to be held at the Edinburgh Centre for Climate Change. The event has sold out with a number of delegates on a waiting list. Slides from presenters are being gathered for what promises to be a full and engaging programme (see URL: http://e3vis.eventbrite.com/).

The event will be live blogged on the GECO blog, it can be followed on Twitter using the #e3viz hash tag. A full report on the event will follow.

Oct 042011

“Because everyone will eventually have ‘an App’ in their pocket that uses GPS!”

JISC is pleased to announce the launch of several new BETA products and tools centred around geospatial technology and aimed at Universities, Colleges and Schools. Come along and experiment with these soon-to-be-released products at a special one day event on Monday November 28th at Ravensborough College (next door to the Milennium Dome) in London. We encourage students, researchers and teaching staff from all disciplines to attend and sample these fantastic new tools so that we can further their usefulness to everyone in Academia. Come along and discover how Geo really is part of everyday work and play

So, what can you expect?

Well, we have a fantastic set of geospatial tools and projects including these highlights:

Are you a student? You’ll want to see the #Gemma project (University College London) and their cool new Android and iPhone apps that help collect data for research projects and assignments and then present your data as colourful maps. Want to impress your teachers and get a better grade on your next assignment? Want to use your smartphone for data collection? Then you need to check this event out.

Are you a researcher? You’ll want to see how the Halogen2 (University of Leicester) project have build cross-disciplinary geo links between DNA data and other scholarly datasets: archaeology, genealogy, history…. Welcome to the future of cross-disciplinary research!

Are you a teacher? You’ll want to see the new handbook that GeoSciTeach (Institute of Education) is producing on how to integrate geospatial tools into class activities. See how they used mobile phones to conduct a lesson at Kew Gardens, making the great outdoors into an interactive teaching and learning space. In short, you’re not cool unless you’ve got geospatial in school!

Best of all the day is finished up with an evening Awards party (in the Millenium Dome!) for the projects and all their hard work. Come shake hands with these projects, toast their success and find out who will win Geospatial project of the Year!

For a Draft Agenda for the event please see:


See you there.

Please use the hashtag “#jiscGEO” to talk about this event on your favourite social network.

To register for this event please use the following link (Day 1 is the ‘Show and Tell’ Day described above for these projects – though you are welcome to stay on and learn more about geo on the other event days):


 October 4, 2011  Posted by at 5:05 pm General No Responses »