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CS401 Learning and Progress First Task

February 11, 2013

This week’s meeting had us learning more specifics about the design and requirements for the project.  Also discussion on several issues.  It was decided that we will from the start plan on having this program be reusable for the museum.  It will be much easier to switch away from such a design if it is found unusable than trying to modify a one use program into reusable after all the code has been done.

We came up with a list of tasks and teams were chosen to work on each one.  The code we are doing now is more to get a feel for what is possible and not code to go into the final project.  So all the groups more or less testing the waters right now and seeing what we can do and hopefully some concept on how long things will take.

My task for this week was to do some research into two programs that we planned to use in this project.  The first being kiosk pro and the second being phonegap.  To see what their features are, what if any limitations they have, and finally if there was any cost or licensing issues with them.  I also spent time looking into possible alternatives for each if needed.

Kiosk Pro, I found that this program had all the functionality needed for the museum.  It is designed to work with HTML, CSS, and Javascript coding.  After a set idle time it will go back to it’s set homepage, it blocks all internet sites except for allowed domains (so even if they got to and address bar they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere), blocks use of hardware options(the home button), toggle off sleep/auto lock mode, show or hide address bar, navigation bar, and status bar.  This can all be done by their free version.

There is however two levels of paid versions.  The first at just $5 per iPad gives the likely needed capability to store files locally that it can seamlessly shift to if there is a loss of internet.  Also allows for settings of the program to be changed remotely and the app will send an e-mail if the kiosk looses connection to it’s power source and starts using battery power.  For the local files I would say this is likely the minimal needed for the project.

The third option is their Kiosk Pro Plus, at $40 per iPad it is significantly more expensive but does add some nice features to the app.  First it has power saving options, such as dimming on the home screen and the ability to have set times for the iPad to sleep and wake.  This would avoid the need to go in and turn on/off the iPads every day. as they can be set to not be active when the museum is closed.  Also this version has the ability to update and change of local content.  This means with this version once set the museum would have no real need to remove the iPads from their kiosk inclosures unless they needed actual maintenance or repair.

The negatives about Kiosk pro I don’t believe are very high but some that may or may not cause problems.  One is that for best usage it will require some money, though cost is minimal and a one time purchase cost.  Also I found that the program does not work with Flash, so we would have to avoid using Flash in any of the activities.  Finally, is that it can’t run other apps of any kind.  So we would not be using Phonegap to convert our coding.  This app is designed to work with websites.

Searching for alternatives to Kiosk Pro took a lot of time, mostly because there aren’t any.  There are other kiosk apps yes, but they either do not have near the functionality or they cost considerably more.  Most opinion online is that this is the best program, especially at our level of need.  If one of the drawbacks can’t be tolerated more research will need to be done to see which of these will give us at least basic functionality.

I did research on Phonegap still though not as extensive.  I found that it is free to use and there should be no licensing issues for our project.  Consensus seems to be this is the superior free program for what we need.  There were some worries about fees or limitations but I found these only applied to the version of phonegap that works with the Cloud.  If we were to do a conversion this does seem to be the program to go with.

My personal suggestion would be to use the Kiosk pro and leave the code as website.  The cost is minimal and purchase not monthly, and the functionality with the kiosk program is needed for what the museum wants.  I would also think that at least once we start working on definite code we will want at least one iPad to be loaded with the program so that the code can be tested as we go.  While I did not find any indications official or through comments of other restrictions, it would be best to test as we go instead of risking a large chunk of code being found unusable at the end of the project.

Unfortunately due to blizzard conditions the college will not be open for class tomorrow, and the following monday is a holiday.  The class will try to meet tomorrow through irc, hopefully this will lesson the impact this delay will have on our time table.

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One Comment
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