Software development archive

Prior to designing and building websites, I was a freelance software developer writing systems for clients for distribution on CD-ROM. This was when I learned to listen to clients and design systems that responded to the detailed requirements of their projects.

The following applications are software projects (not website projects) that demonstrate some of these qualities. Written in either VB.NET or ToolBook Asymetrix/Click2Learn ToolBook Developer (the first Windows-based multimedia software authoring system) they are - with one exception - front-ends to databases. The majority of them are eLearning or course-management applications.

These projects taught me the need for precision and thoroughness. Programs needed to work on a huge range of devices and in a variety of diverse situations. Robust error-reporting procedures were as important as perfecting the random seeding of a three-dimensional array or the bi-directional highlighting of a multi-colour product-to-property menu system!

Welcome to the pre-internet museum!

Digital Resource Database

VB.NET, Access/ADO.NET, TXTextControl.NET, DotNetMagic, DataDynamics ActiveReports.NET
Digital Resource Database

An accessibility-enabled bilingual database for indexing digital media. Links and indexes Word DOC, AVI, MPEG, MP3, WAV, GIF, JPG, WMF, BMP and PNG files.

Supports fast database SQL-searching, favourites and database reports. Password-protected user accounts for multiple network use.

This database - recently re-designed for the web - can be seen in action at the website of The Railway Land Project, www.railwaylandproject.org. Some ideas - and their designs - can indeed have legs!

Curriculum Editor

Word Visual Basic for Applications, MS Access
Curriculum Editor

Allows course managers to modify the database indices, the multiple-choice questions and the contents of the curriculum database for the Aviation Theory Revision Aid and Student Course Management System applications described above. Allows full edits of these curricular assets from within Microsoft Word. The modified database files can then be forwarded to students using the course.

Student Course Management System

VB.NET, Access/ADO.NET, TXTextControl.NET, DataDynamics ActiveReports.NET, WebZinc.NET, BigSpeedZIP
Student Course Management System

Links to the above Aviation Theory Revision Aid, companion application. Mapping 2,500 multiple-choice questions to the content, extracting both at run-time into the GUI. Enables students to plot their progress in answering these m/c questions. Allows students to submit their results incrementally to their course managers by simplified FTP.

Management and Reporting System

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor, GisburneDB ActiveX, MS Access
Management and Reporting System

Receives FTPed results databases from students running the Aviation Theory Revision Aid/Student Course Management System applications, described above. A font-line curriculum-support tool, enabling tutors to assess student progress and fine-tune support. Presents per-test and per-question analysis allowing the profiling of individual student’s strengths and weaknesses. Configurable boundary points for student participation and achievement. Statistical analysis and reporting. Can send email acknowledgments of results. Can batch email all registered students.

Question Builder

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor, GisburneDB ActiveX, MS Access
Question Builder

Hoses multiple question sets direct from Access databases to ToolBook test files; and extracts multiple-choice question parameters from ToolBook files to Access databases. Thus this application can streamline the production of eLearning materials as well as supporting the strategic development of a range of eLearning database assets which will then interface with other systems. An extremely, fast and cost-effective way of centralising eLearning resources.

File Sharer

VB.NET, TXTextControl.NET, WebZinc.NET
File Sharer

A bilingual system for transferring paired Word + JPEG files between different physical sites that share a common website (which acts as an FTP staging-post). Supports use by adults with special visual requirements, and is fully accessibility-compliant.

Epidemiological Principles and Practices (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor
Epidemiological Principles and Practices (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

CBT materials accompanying a master’s degree in epidemiology. The screenshot demonstrates the statistical incidence of eye colouration. Packed with interactive activities, this highly-structured CBT system was a pre-internet best-of-breed CBT system.

Co-developed with Dr. Steve Bond, LSHTM.

Health and Lifestyles National Surveys (Health Education Authority)

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor
Health and Lifestyles National Surveys (Health Education Authority)

A CD-ROM bringing together over 40 national surveys on health and lifestyles of the UK population. Cross-referenced into 27 different topics and 71 units. Equipped with a full-text search engine, a bookmarking system and the separate tabulation of Health of the Nation targets.

Acrylica 98 (Imperial Chemical Industries)

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor
Acrylica 98 (Imperial Chemical Industries)

A CD-ROM presentation system of acrylic products, features and applications for sales presentations and internal staff training. The application’s menu system could be toggled between novice and expert modes and was capable of being shipped in multiple languages, having an external text-string database to draw on at run-time.

BookMaster/BookMaster Author (Hardlines)

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor, MS Access, GisburneDB ActiveX
BookMaster/BookMaster Author (Hardlines)

An educational resource tool for the creation of short documents. With a separate data-entry module, it enables publishers to make available read-only versions of their publications, faithfully replicating the original page layout, with all image and text content and positioning information being stored in linked MS Access database files on CD-ROM. Enables teachers to extract selected images and text from these database ’books’ for use in their own documents. In this way, the publisher’s original resources are made available within a controlled context.

Dangerous Goods CBT (CityJet)

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor, GisburneDB ActiveX and MS Access
Dangerous Goods CBT (CityJet)

Network-based, secure air crew CBT on dangerous goods. Structured presentation of knowledge-base, followed by two levels of testing and follow-up remediation.Password-protected, stores all results to a network database. Time-limited, packed with Flash animations.

CBT Administration Module (CityJet)

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor, GisburneDB ActiveX and MS Access
CBT Administration Module (CityJet)

CBT administration module for the above Dangerous Goods CBT. Standard reporting system with number-crunching for individuals, sub-groups and all employees.Printed course certificates and managed an arcane system of security floppy disks!

Defence Challenge Senior Quiz (Ministry of Defence)

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor
Defence Challenge Senior Quiz (Ministry of Defence)

A kiosk application to accompany the MoD’s annual touring exhibition. A complex touch-screen system pitching user knowledge against software cunning, this system attracted queues of keen camouflage-wearing game-players! With it’s time-critical rule-base, this system pushed ToolBook to the limits of its ability.

Defence Challenge Junior Quiz (Ministry of Defence)

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor
Defence Challenge Junior Quiz (Ministry of Defence)

This was the junior version of the MoD’s Defence Challenge and was arguably no easier to play! Randomised questions were fired at the user who had to respond by touching precise areas of the screen, as can be seen in this screenshot.

MoD3 Authoring Module (Ministry of Defence)

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor, GisburneDB ActiveX, MS Access
MoD3 Authoring Module (Ministry of Defence)

This was effectively the hot-spot editor for the Defence Challenge Junior Quiz, enabling the MoD’s exhibition staff to reload the Junior Challenge with a fresh set of questions - each with its hot-spot co-ordinated answers - whenever they wanted. Actually a mini-marvel, displaying the unusual flexibility of ToolBook as an authoring system.

Re-cycled Places (the Economic and Social Research Council and the University of Sussex)

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor
Re-cycled Places (the Economic and Social Research Council and the University of Sussex)

Innovative CD-ROM co-authored by schoolchildren and subject experts addressing a range of subjects relating to the management and use of local wild spaces. The system logged all interactive use for research purposes.

A series of highly-customised top-level menus give access to a mass of mini-narratives on diverse subjects. Packed with multimedia assets and interactive sequences, Re-cycled Places was truly ahead of its time.

Britain's Task Force (Ministry of Defence)

Asymetrix ToolBook Instructor
Britain's Task Force (Ministry of Defence)

A kiosk application presenting the UK’s defence policies for the MoD’s annual touring exhibition. Runs through the UK’s defence roles and hardware capabilities in a point-and-click touch-screen environment. About 200 screens linked to around 570 multimedia files.

DTP / page make-up (Cambridge University Press)

Quark XPress
DTP / page make-up (Cambridge University Press)

Full DTP and page make-up for a 324-page, hardback academic text book — packed with graphs, charts and tables — for Cambridge University Press, including direct liaison with the editor. Full details available at www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521472555.

I subsequently worked on several other publications as a freelancer with Quark during the mid-1990s.

DotRational Indexer

VB.NET, Access/ADO.NET, TXTextControl.NET, DataDynamics ActiveReports.NET, SharpUI.NET
DotRational Indexer

A consumer application for managing, previewing and retrieving images, multimedia, PDF and Word document files, and for modifying EXiF and MP3 metadata. Packed with advanced functionality, Indexer enables Windows (XP and Vista) users to map their files with their own keywords,enabling rapid file indexing and retrieval.

Aviation Theory Revision Aid

VB.NET, Access/ADO.NET, TXTextControl.NET, DataDynamics ActiveReports.NET, WebZinc.NET
Aviation Theory Revision Aid

Rewritten from its ToolBook ancestor so that content and interface were separated. 500,000 words/900 pages of text held in an index database, injected into the GUI at run-time. Free-text search, bookmarks, links to 2,000 Flash movies, glossary definitions. Inter-operates with its companion application, Student Course Management System.