Tag: Design

Diversion

Diversion

So whilst there’s been substantial progress on RD across all tiers (currently doing data architecture and working on PostgreSQL), a problem that keeps cropping up across all enterprises…cropped up again. For me this is a smaller piece of design and development work, which has benefits for a wide range of user groups – and is perfect for the open source model.

Almost feels like a distraction that I’d meant to do something about a few years ago.

Often where organisations want to take the next stage in maturity of their architecture practise, they need look at how they manage their overall enterprise continuum. The starting point is a large volume of flat Visio drawings, a tome of Word documents and probably a whole chunk of Powerpoint presentations. I’d say Writer and Draw but am unsure of how many people would get the reference 🙂

If you’re fortunate enough you may be operating a “living document” approach in platforms like Confluence, but even with some of the diagrammatic markdown there inevitably most of the drawings will still be in Visio. Living document platforms allow you to ditch disperate single document files in order to design & deliver change wiki-style. With the linkage to JIRA it really comes alive of course.

Even really powerful Visio drawings are just drawings. It’s not like there’s a data dictionary or much meta-data behind the shapes – unlike DWG, iServer store or Sparx EA repositories.

What do you have against Visio then?

Nothing at all. It’s a great tool – I remember working for a small architecture & surveying practise in the late 90’s, building CAD tools for them to use in AutoCAD and Microstation. AutoDesk were trying to get their developer network (the ADN) interested in developing on their flat drawing product, Atrix Technical. Intended to be a template & stencil-based CAD tool (sound familiar?), focusing on simplicity vs. AutoCAD-level drawing dictionaries, it was struggling to gain traction with the ADN.

It looked like the biggest problem was that, in an industry already using AutoCAD it was difficult to sell the benefits of a simplified tool. Surveyors just weren’t that interested. At the company I worked for at the time we hit upon the idea of using it for estate agents – when they’re assessing a property it might be a good way of quickly drawing a layout. We import a survey DWG into Atrix as the home layout, then give the estate agents a bunch of to-scale stencils with household items e.g. furniture and appliances.

Sounded good enough that we approached AutoDesk to see if we could get some help with funding for the project – they even came to Nottingham to see us.

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