Where did they travel? part 01

I have started work on the next section of my application entitled ‘Where did they travel?’, the first part of this section is an overview of where and why the Vikings travelled and to support the textual information I have created a map showing some of the places the Viking travelled, see below:

Obviously a map of this size cannot be displayed effectively in the small space I have available in my application, so I have made the map a draggable feature so that the user can move the map and focus on a particular area, I have also been testing out the feature, common on a lot of mobile applications where the inspection of visual content may be necessary.  Pinch to Zoom is an input method designed for use on multi-touch devices where the user touches the screen with two fingers drawing them towards each other in a pinching motion, this then results in a zooming function on the device, I got the code working to enable this feature but have subsequently disabled this feature as it was hard to control and I felt it would have caused more harm to the user experience than any benefits that may have been gained.  To see the finished dragable map, see the video below:

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Documenting my progress

I have been having some difficulty documenting my progress of late; in fact I have wasted an entire week trying to find a solution to this problem.  Like the plot of a time travel adventure, this is where this blog may get confusing but I will do my best to try and explain.

My method of documenting my progress involves writing an account of the work that I have been doing in a word document, usually within a short space of time after completion of a particular section or some significant progress and if I am in the flow (to use games technology) or I am on a roll for those of you who are non-gamers I move straight on to further work, which then means at a later point in time I need to go back and combine imagery or video with the text I had wrote previously, in order to upload it all collectively to my blog and sometimes it can mean me uploading several blogs for differing pieces of work relating to different dates in one go, at one time.

This is a process that works well for me but I have recently being struggling with a new method of documenting my process and depending on when you are reading this post, the blogs I have been struggling with may or may not actually be online at an earlier chronological date to this post, depending on whether or not I have been able to find a solution to my problems.

As I have been progressing With my project I have incorporated more animations and interactive elements that are harder to document effectively with text and static imagery, so the obvious answer would be video in the form of screen recordings and I have used this method effectively in earlier posts but unfortunately there have been some issues.  The best screen recorder I have found so far is the screen recording utility in real player, on the iMacs at HSAD, this worked particularly well as it recorded in good quality with relatively small file sizes on the output and due the large screen ratio on the iMac you can see the application in both orientations.  But there is a problem with this method, the software at Hull school of art and design is adobe cs5 and my application has been created using Adobe CS5.5, which means I need to save my application in the older file format in order to run it on the uni machines, this was not a problem in the earlier stages of my applications development but now it is a major problem.

in a previous blog (see here) I explained that I had been experiencing some issues with my application lagging or running slowly and I resolved this issue by optimising my application, one of the biggest methods of optimisation I used, involved the use of a feature called Export as Bitmap, a feature that did not exist and thus is incompatible with the software at uni, so I no longer have that method of documentation available to me.  This means that all screen recordings will have to be done on my laptop, which mean my application can only be seen in horizontal orientation due to the laptop screen aspect ratio but luckily due to the way I have designed the application all of the content is still viewable, so this is only a minor problem.

Although it brings me to a further problem of screen recording on my laptop, the software utility I used on the iMac at uni is not available on windows, so I must use different software, I have been trying different software and after a week of recording the same piece of video with many different pieces of software, with varying results in terms of quality and file size, I thought I had found the solution with a piece of software called Jing, it recorded in good quality with a small file size, all was good until I attempted to edit the video, it seems that importing the type of file Jing exports into Adobe Premier (my editing software) results in the file corrupting and the video been lost, so ultimately another dead end.

I was left to return to a piece of software I have used previously called Cam Studio, which records with reasonable quality but the file size it outputs is massive which means that in no time my hard drive will be full, the uploading of files to Youtube will take hours and this is a big problem but at the moment I seem to have no other choice.  I then encountered a further problem in the editing process, after I had compiled the piece of video I wanted it exported into an un-viewable jumpy mess of a state.  I am not sure what I am doing wrong and as of this date it is significantly affecting my ability to record my progress effectively.

Illuminated Letters

During my last meeting with our external examiner, he suggested that I look at illuminated manuscripts as a source of inspiration and I nodded in agreement saying “yes of course I will”, when honestly I had no idea what he was talking about but like the diligent student I am, I started researching illuminated manuscripts and I can see why they were suggested to me, I visited some of the sources below:

The british library

http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/welcome.htm

http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/TourIntroGen.asp

http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/illmanus/

The encyclopedia britttanica

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/283009/illuminated-manuscript

But by far my favourite no nonsense easy to understand resource is the one below:

http://hrsbstaff.ednet.ns.ca/kmason/images/Illuminations1.pdf

Basically illuminated manuscripts are very old manuscripts with artistic embellishments and illustrations that where popular in the middle ages

My research led me to create a mood board, see below:

The style of illuminated manuscripts has a strong resemblance to the theme that I am employing in my application and I believe this is why the external examiner suggested them as a potential inspirational resource.

As I have been working on my application, I have not been happy with the titles featured at the top of my application and I have decided to use illuminated letters as part of my new titles. Illuminated letters were usually the first letter of a page or paragraph within an illuminated manuscript. They where always enlarged and coloured often featuring a lot of gold, the rest of the text remained a singular colour which was often back. Different images were used as embellishments to decorate the letters including animals, plants, and mythological creatures. These images were modified to fit into or around the letter, or in some cases took on the shape of the letter itself. As a source of inspiration I created a mood board, see below:

I have created 3 illuminated letters as currently that is all I require, as most of my title start with the same letters, see below:

My designs feature the colour gold prominently, as this is a common feature within illuminated letters, they also feature elements from my themed navigation to help tie them into my applications thematic design.  I have also incorporated the runes that translate to the featured letter, as runes were the symbols used by the Vikings in writing, see below:

I am happy with my illuminated letters and I feel that they compliment my application.

Optimizing again

As mentioned in a previous blog see here I have been experiencing lagging in parts of my application but through further investigation I think I have identified and made changes that have not completely solved the problem but the changes have greatly improved performance. I believe the problem is that I am trying do things that are pushing the computing capabilities of the device to its limits but I believe it is better to have engaging content than to simplify content to improve performance although it is a fine line because if the performance is at a level where it frustrates the user this would also be detrimental to my application success. I have a balancing act ahead of me but this is usually the case when pushing existing boundaries.

Current progress

I am not quite where I had hoped to be at this stage of my making (understatement), the school summer holidays and my first piece of paid design work have had a significant impact on my progress and I am very worried about how I am going to be able to make up for lost time but all I can do is make a concerted effort and hope for the best.