Lessons Learned

  • Technical issues with the APIs upon which the project relied caused some delays, but it would have been impractical to have done a complete functionality audit during the bidding phase. In retrospect we would have benefited from structuring the development work in such a way as to build in contingency for this kind of problem solving, and also included a work package that could be achieved if the contingency development time went unused.
  • As a result of the open development approach that we took, we tasked ourselves with implementing interface usability requirements at the same time as implementing code that was simple for developers to reuse in other development projects. This brought to the fore the oft-cited (for example here: http://jonoscript.wordpress.com/these-things-i-believe/) observation that open source development practices do not often deal gracefully with usability concerns. In the case of this project’s outputs we feel that we managed to address both usability and reusability within an open development environment. The project team intends to look more closely in the future at how best to generalise the lessons learned to help reconcile general open development methodologies with diligent usability design and implementation more easily.
  • We had greater success in engaging interest in a more general software community space (Apache Wookie) than we did in engaging interest in the smaller academic communities that were the focus of the bid. It may be worth exploring the idea that software development to benefit the UK HE/FE community or a subset of that community might nevertheless benefit from being initially pitched into the widest applicable global project. From there, it may be easier to gain external developer support, achieve sustainability and thereby gain the time needed to properly engage the narrower academic community’s requirements.

PDF of edited blogs posts