Archive for the ‘Information Architecture’ Category

FlyView for SharePoint: Dynamic Menu Application

April 6, 2016

For SharePoint users, navigating around a site collection or collections can be very difficult, especially if not much thought has been put into the global navigation or the administrators stick with the one deep global navigation available out of the box. And, while you navigate around, you constantly have to wait for url requests.

I was recently made aware of an extension for Chrome (IE coming soon) from Aurora Bits, FlyView for SharePoint – a dynamic menu and navigation tool that allows you to easily explore a SharePoint site and sub sites using a breadcrumb technique. Not only does it allow you to easily explore what sites are available (based on permissions) you can then see inside the site to the libraries or lists. The FlyView displays like a traditional left tree structure.

FlyView Example

Example of FlyView in a Production Environment. (Some sensitive information has been whited out or alternate text provided)

For SharePoint users, navigating around a site collection or collections can be very difficult, especially if not much thought has been put into the global navigation or the administrators stick with the one deep global navigation available out of the box. And, while you navigate around, you constantly have to wait for url requests.

I was recently made aware of an extension for Chrome (IE, Firefox, Safari coming soon) from Aurora Bits, FlyView for SharePoint – a dynamic menu and navigation tool that allows you to easily explore a SharePoint site and sub sites using a breadcrumb technique. Not only does it allow you to easily explore what sites are available (based on permissions) you can then see inside the site to the libraries or lists. The FlyView displays like a traditional left tree structure.

Some additional features include a SharePoint-only browsing history and SharePoint-only favorites. You can also change the font size for the breadcrumbs, hide or display the breadcrumb men, display a search box or not. You can also black list and white list. The blacklist option is useful for Enterprise-wide deployment of the extension. White list is useful so you can create relationships between grand parent and child sites if the parent level is blocked from you access.

For those of you that need to make a business case on why you should allow FlyView or to purchase FlyView Enterprise, just think about the increased return on your investment in SharePoint, increased adoption by end users, and finally, the increased productivity and less information duplication because people can find  the things they are looking for.

FlyView works with SharePoint online/Office 365 sites, or on premises 2016, 2013, 2010, and 2007.

Since this is only available for Chrome, I recommend you also add these other extensions otherwise you will lose some of the functionality of SharePoint in Chrome. (IE Tab by ietab.net ) When FlyView releases their Internet Explorer/Firefox/Mac extension (in beta testing), you won’t have to worry about any other extensions. FlyView Enterprise will be installed on a server, configured and controlled centrally and deployed to all or select users.

After 9 years working of working in SharePoint, this is the most useful extensions I’ve ever seen that ALL users can use.

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UNB Computer Science Expo 2010

April 14, 2010

I just attended (13 April 2010) the UNB Computer Science Expo at the University of New Brunswick Fredericton.

It was a great Industry-University forum to discuss business development partnerships (Enterprise Fredericton, Propel ICT, NB IT Council), funding (New Brunswick Innovation Fund), human resource development (MITACS), example success stories (Chalk/RIM), as well as specific research projects of faculty and graduate students.

As an example of its utility, my current research at Innovatia is in Knowledge Engineering creating Ontology’s for text mining. At the expo, I found the following talks to be useful:

  • Ken Kents research in Accelerating Java Using Massive Multicore Systems to be useful for understanding how to overcome the large Triple Store we will face when operationalizing our RDF store (database).
  • Huajie Zhang research in Semi-supervised Learning and Its Applications to be useful for re-validating how grassroots users will be needed to help build the ontology for an organization.
  • Judy Zhao research in Managing Uncertain Knowledge on the Fuzzy Semantic Web to be useful for reminding me that one group of users can have precise queries, while other users (like the public) can have fuzzy queries. In fact, while she was talking, she helped my realize how I could solve a fuzzy ontology problem I had around one fuzzy object relationship that had 8 precise meanings. I am now modelling that fuzzy relationship with no description logic (axioms) but the sub-object properties that have precise meaning with axioms. This will allow us to suggest to the average user that we think their query is actually asking the one precise relationship meaning based on other aspects of the query (class/instance terms). Tomorrows job is to hammer out the details with the project team.
  • Nicola Bicocchi presentation on Collaborative Organizational Modelling and Simulation for Emergency-Response where he talked about 5 different models and how none interact well when responsinf to an emergency. I think ther is some OWL-2 ontology work here. Must call him in the morning.
  • And of course, Chris Baker’s presentation (On the Illustration of Ontology Reuse ) where he featured my ontology and knowledge engineering project plan. 🙂
  • Alexandre Kouznetsov’s poster on  Text Mining & NLP based Algorithm to populate ontology with A-Box individuals and object properties where he thanked me for my ontology (THANKS ALEX!) and I got to talk about my work. 🙂
  • And some interesting research posters: http://www.cs.unb.ca/research-expo/2010/2010Posters.htm
  • And, to pursue my PhD studies, I need to talk to Ian Baird at MITACs about my particular problem of trying to find funding for studies when I am already employed in Industry. Again, another phone call in the morning.

The great thing about this is that I discovered all this talent here in UNB when I have been looking at reasearch all over the world to help with our Semantic project. I had conversations with the NRC (William Langley) about how we could create networking between NB industry and UNB with a suggestion of www.academia.edu and Google Alerts playing a role. So I spent an hour writing him an email prior to this blog post instead of grading some early submitted term papers for RMC.

I also had some brief conversations with other industry participants about how semantics can help them. I think I convinced a few of them of its utility and hopefully some projects will emerge where I can use my ontology creation skills.

All in all a succesful day.

CCK08: User/Learner Centered Instructional Design

October 23, 2008

I have been designing training and educational materials now for 20 years through my time with the army in pre-internet days, designed and developed a number of soft skills e-Learning courses in the 2000-3 time frame, writing telecommunications technical publications, to offering history and political science course online and in class, to now being an information architect with a practice of user centered design.

What I have come to realize is that up to 2 years ago, I often relied on others description of who the learner/user was. I never got to meet the learners; instead I relied on a subject matter expert who told me who the target audience was and provided the details and I applied objectives, wrote content and provided testing. Often the subject matter expert was several years removed from interacting with the end-users.

At no time until become an information architect was I ever allowed to question the medium/mechanism or design of what I was doing. My practice as an information architect has led me to start the process of training design by actually asking the question of “do we even need training?” Is it possible there are other forms of information that is more useful to the target audience?

To discover this, you actually need to talk to the users. You may discover that the users don’t need to be tested, they only what just in time information of how to do a task (insert a hyperlink) that an html help file can provide. So part of the problem is instantly saying we need to do training, when we actually need better information design. Better information design comes from talking to the users of the information to see how they consume it, how they need to use it, and the environment they need to operate in. Only them can you start to say we have x or y types of users and this is what each x or y user need to do. This process then allows you to come up with a list of requirements or recommendations, but these recommendations are not for all users, but the significant majority of users, or the users with the “most” pressing problems.

The recommendations may be on product help, topic based web help files, a Wiki publishing and user corrected feedback system, a better intranet/website, structured authoring, or single source publishing. So the technology choice comes last and not first. Perhaps the current technology is good enough, it just needs better implementation. Knowing what the general capabilities of technology are useful so potential avenues of exploration are possible, but what if there is no current technology? Then the requirements start a new development process for that technology to aid in the information creation and dissemination and re-synthesizing (if needed).

So, I see instructional design as being a sub-set of information design, and perhaps one of the last options to consider for the deployment of training since training can be so expensive and of limited durability in the product-driven world.

Perhaps the best thing that could happen is an easily findable website that is user constructed with links to reputable or useful information for the problems I need resolve for the information I need education in. Even my New Brunswick lumberjack with a web-enable cell phone in an area with service could trouble-shoot why his Husquvarna chain saw is acting up. He doesn’t need a fancy piece of e-Learning in an LMS or to take an operators course (unless the law says so).

This difficulty, of course, is trying to provide the information for what the software industry calls the “corner cases” or users that operating under what may be rare circumstances. In the Connectivist world, this means users that find themselves unable to connect to the internet due to lack of a computer or networking infrastructure. This may be coming rare in the “westernized” world, but a significant population may face challenge. The situation or user environment will help decide the educational/training mechanisms that are most appropriate. So a study of infromation architecture is extremely relevant to instructional design.

CCK08: Review of the “The Numerati”

October 14, 2008

Back in Week 2 of CCK08, George Siemens told me of a new book entitled “The Numerati” by Stephen Baker. Reading the Amazon publisher’s comments gave me the feeling Baker was another conspiracy theorist. I held off buying the book for 2 weeks due to course readings but found it at my local Chapters (much to my surprise!). I still had a feeling he was anti-something, but by the end of chapter 1, he had me hooked.

Baker describes how math is being used to understand social networking in a variety of subjects. This is not unlike the CBS TV “Numbers” where some local mathematics professors help the FBI crack some hard cases by applying math to behaviours of criminals.

What got me hooked was his description of how IBM is trying to create mathematical models of its workforce so it can better optimize the selection of workers to fit the right projects (PP 33-40). Baker describes how IBM started with a skills database, integrated with calendars and basic demographic information about the employee, looks at past projects worked on, but wisely stays away form annual performance evaluations. Like IBM, the company I work for realized that in today’s competitive world, workforce optimization was critical to continuing success. So Baker hit close to home with his book.

Baker then goes on to describe in various chapters how mathematical models are in use in consumer shopping behaviour analysis, voting (US), blogging, terrorism, patient care, and even matching-making. Match-making was the funniest by far as he tests the mathematical models of one website site by trying to “match-up” with his wife whom he co-opted into the experiment. I won’t give away what happened!

His chapter on voting and the breaking down of the electorate actually stuck home here in Canada in our own Federal election of Oct 14, 2008. I actually say a Conservative Party of Canada TV commercial that made the same “family values” appeal that was described as one category of swing voters in the US. It would appear someone in the CPC has read this book too or is using applied mathematics in the same manner.

This book is of very good value in understanding networks and trying to get to “understand” them. While it lacks some academic rigour documentation, it makes up for it in its excellent discussions of examples. Understanding what a network and a group are has been tough to understand in CKK08, so I welcomed these examples.

There were several places where a chart would have helped in understanding the content especially in the terrorist networking diagrams. There has been some excellent papers writing on social networks, but Baker does not refer to anything in his bibliography other than published books. His citation technique was one of the weirdest I have ever seen. He did not use any indication some text had a notation. Rather, you had to read the Notations section at the back of the book to realize that he was discussing something in further detail. Ideally, the book should have been published as a series of articles/blogs, but I understand it took him a year to write this, so he needed some sort of remuneration at the “end of the rainbow”. Baker does have a Blog site which discusses various aspects of the subject in more detail.

CCK08: An Onotology of my Belief system

September 22, 2008
Bradley Shoebottom Belief System Mind Map

Bradley Shoebottom Belief System Mind Map

In a discussion about non-hierachial ontologies, I was challenged how to come up with one. It was suggested I do my belief system. Here it is, and darn it, after the first 4 major concepts, it went hierachic. Maybe I have too much darn logic in my noodle (brain).

Here it is: