While developing the greatschools.net web site, I found
I had a large set of questions I needed answered for each new page:
what's the URL?
what is the maximum page weight?
do we want it indexed by search engines?
and so on.
Our default documentation system was a wiki, and I found it awkward: I could print out a copy of a list for each new page we were developing, and then cross
them off with a pencil, but this is hardly collaborative. Or I could create a "template" and use the wiki's editing
capabilities, but this was cumbersome.
I tried spreadsheets and word processing
documents, but they were awkward as well.
I looked at other list tools, but they
were all geared towards 1-off "to-do" lists, not quite what I was thinking, and they
required quite a bit of set-up. Not very light weight.
I began to wonder: was there a tool that was so lightweight that it could beat out these other tools? They were a little awkward, but workable.
The goals of this project is:
- Build the most compact and usable "checklist" tool possible within a single
web application (as opposed to a component of another site or a desktop application).
- Maximize user value while minimizing development time. I could invest 1 or 2 hours
a week, but had no large blocks of time to devote.
- Provide extra value over a scrap of paper by offering:
- wiki-style library of useful, re-usable or jumping-off-point lists
- the facility to evolve a list through time
- tracking for shared checklists
- Ultimately, determine if a browser is too "heavyweight" for such as lightweight application.
Although not all the data is in, I currently have the following analysis:
- There may well be too little value to be workable in its own app
- I need help in terms of visual design, terminology, etc. to distinguish
your checklists from the shared, wiki checklists
- Embeddable modules or plugins may be a better approach
- I can actually develop working code with little time investment. This is probably 30-40 hours of total investment.
Other directions not pursued:
- Specific stories are prioritized and tracked. I get to one or two a week.
- Enterprise-level authentication and authorization for lists and items
- Mobile device access to lists
Andrew J. Peterson, December 2007