jibbajabba's blog

Macromedia.com Progress Report

Macromedia.com has published a progress report detailing feedback they've received from users of the redesigned site and discussing progress they're making towards resolution of outstanding problems. They've been hit with a lot of complaints from Apple Safari users since they launched.

We have received a tremendous volume of feedback on the new macromedia.com experience. Your collective feedback has been thoughtful and detailed, and is helping to improve the macromedia.com experience.

A web-based application to semi-automate site map creation

I started working with GraphViz this month and have created a web-based application that converts tab delimitted text files into diagrams. The sole purpose for the application at this point is to turn site inventories or IA hierarchies into clickable site maps like this.

Before you ask why I bothered to do this, I'll give a little history. Immediately after writing the article Automating Diagrams with Visio for Boxes and Arrows I began to see that I didn't want to draw circles, boxes, lines, etc. anymore. That hacky process I used served its purpose. But over the past year I have learned to let databases and scripting languages to the heavy work we normally do in applications like Excel, e.g. content inventories, site architecture (capturing page/node data and parent child relationships). But I still have the need to work with Excel or plain text files for some of the smaller sites I work on outside of my day job. So I still do the site architecture in Excel and now I can do the diagramming in GraphViz.

So try out the app and let me know if you are doing anything similar or see other uses for this thing.

UPDATE: Added a few options including hierachical or radial layout, box or circle shapes, fill or no fill, and shape and font coloring options so you can now create diagrams like this.

Vocabulary, taxonomy, thesaurus, ontology and meta-model

Woody Pidcock of the Boeing company gives an excellent overview of the differences between a vocabulary, a taxonomy, a thesaurus, an ontology, and a meta-model on metamodel.com. He summarizes the differences as such:

    Bottom line: Taxonomies and Thesauri may relate terms in a controlled vocabulary via parent-child and associative relationships, but do not contain explicit grammar rules to constrain how to use controlled vocabulary terms to express (model) something meaningful within a domain of interest. A meta-model is an ontology used by modelers. People make commitments to use a specific controlled vocabulary or ontology for a domain of interest.

Thanks, Matt Webb.

OmniGraffle UI palette

Robert Silverman's OmniGraffle GUI palette is nice. Is meant for designing cross-platform interfaces although you can see hints of Mac OS X in the shapes. Contains most of the standard widgets you'd expect in an application builder.


David Riecks pointed me to his site on controlled vocabularies. David discusses the benefits of using CVs and offers a lot of examples of heavily-used controlled vocabularies and thesauri. Since David is a photographer, he also has a special interest in image indexing and devotes a special section to image databases and CVs.

A Simplified Model for Facet Analysis

AIfIA has republished Dr. Louise Spiteri's article "A Simplified Model for Facet Analysis".

AIfIA Volunteers to Operate IA Slash

After two years of operating this site, I am stepping down from daily blogging and moderating because of personal commitments. I have donated the site to AIfIA and will be migrating from my host to the AIfIA servers in the coming weeks.

I hope that the IA community will continue to find interesting sites and literature on iaslash as a few very generous AIfIA volunteers take on the role of blogging and moderating. Thanks for watching this site for the past couple of years. I hope iaslash users will continue to contribute to it.

-Michael (jibbajabba)

Here is the AIfIA press release:

Michael Angeles, creator of the information architecture community news site IA Slash, is donating the site to the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture (AIfIA). AIfIA members will moderate and administer IA Slash. IA Slash will continue to operate as an open community for information architects.

"After 2 years of running IA Slash, I have decided to step down from daily blogging to focus on commitments in my personal life," said Michael. "I initially planned to retire the site, but instead offered it to AIfIA."

"IA Slash is a tremendous resource for our community and it would have been a great loss if Michael had retired the site," said Christina Wodtke, AIfIA President. "AIfIA and its members can continue and hopefully expand on Michael's excellent work."

"We also plan to operate IA Slash in the spirit it was created--as an open community for all information architects," said Wodtke. "AIfIA members will provide the moderation, administration and technical support for IA Slash. However, anyone with an interest in IA will be able to post and comment."

The transfer of IA Slash to AIfIA begins immediately and will take several weeks. Costs of the transfer are expected to be minimal. Updates on the transfer will be posted at IA Slash (www.iaslash.org).

For more information, contact AIfIA's media coordinator Jeff Lash.

Visualizing your traffic flow

My sysadmin and I have been playing with graphviz today. I was playing with it on Mac OS X and he used Randal Schwartz's perl script in Web Techniques Column 58 (Feb 2001). He was able to quickly produce a diagram that shows user flow based on Apache referrer logs. The script feeds your log files to graphiviz's dot program and outputs a gif file.

We were both surprised that we didn't find more people writing about using graphviz to analyze of patterns of information-use. Graphviz seems so easy. I know James has been doing a lot of work on generating diagrams from referrer logs using OmniGraffle and Applescript.

Diagramming software

I've been reminded of AT&T Labs' GraphViz again, most recently by a Drupal developer who's writing code to draw diagrams from Drupal's database. Lately, my organization has been pushing to get reports of user data. The reports we get generated from our sysadmin are mostly raw dumps of data that have some columnar formatting. What we're looking at right now is using log files to auto-generate diagrams that show usage data. Should be fun. If you've done this sort of thing with GraphViz before I'd love to hear about your experience. I've downloaded the Mac OS X package and am learning the languages now.

Other semi-automated diagramming packages (gleaned from the Tulip site).

Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture v-2 interview

Adam interviews Karl Fast, John Zapolski and Jeff Lash to address some unanswered questions about the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture and to discuss what it has accomplished thus far and where it's going.

iaslash turns terrible 2

iaslash turns 2 today! The terrible part is that I haven't been blogging much lately, but at least the signal to noise ratio has been good. :) In the coming weeks/months some changes that will help keep this community blog relevant are expected. More on that as it happens.

The Problems with CMS

There's plenty of criticism of content management systems (CMS). Discovering what bothers us most can help us start to address these problems constructively. We conducted a survey to identify the biggest obstacles to effective content management systems. View the results.

Rashmi on recommender systems

Andrew pointed me to Rashmi's excellent discussion of findability and recommender systems on sigia-l.

It sure would be nice if the best of sigia-l was culled periodically. Scott Berkun does this from time to time. Maybe the signal to noise has gotten better on the list?

The Future of Information Architecture: Part II (aifia)

Please help identify important trends and possible futures for information architecture by responding to this AIfIA survey. The results will be shared on the aifia.org site and analyzed in the upcoming IA Leadership Seminar at the ASIS&T IA Summit. update: This survey is now closed. Thanks to all who participated! - jess

AIfIA to Host Leadership Seminar March 21 in Portland

AIfIA is holding its first Leadership Seminar on March 21 in Portland. It's a full-day event--presented in conjunction with the ASIS&T IA Summit -- that promises to tackle "the toughest problems faced by the designers of today's information systems." The AIfIA web site has complete details on the seminar, speakers and topics.

Apple's Word killer

The rumors are floating around that Apple will be releasing a professional word processing application. This should come as no surprise, given that the company has released Keynote, a PowerPoint replacement.

Track discussion of this rumor via Blogdex.

Good gut

Nice discussion on EH:

    I'm beginning to theorize that designers and usability researchers can start to quickly evaluate designs with their gut, once they have seen enough usability tests. ... In fact I think the gut is more accurate than a rule. How to Think With Your Gut lends credence to this theory.
Card Sorting

The InformIT article on card sorting Blueprints for the Web: Organization for the Masses (free registration required) is an excerpt from Christina's "Blueprints" book.

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