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jonnybischof

Ideas about YM

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Hi community

I'm currently working on some possible solutions for Erik's Idea on YouMagine (the vacuuming bot) and would like to put down some notes.

So, if YM wants to be the place to develop and collaborate, there should be some kind of workspace that people can use.

I see that you're not yet finished with the thing, so this is not supposed a complaint but only constructive thinking!

So, here's the situation: I've been thinking about battery management solutions for the bot (read comments here: https://www.youmagine.com/design_ideas/open-source-autonomous-vacuum-cleaner).

I found an interesting document that describes a possible solution and I want to share this document.

So now I need a space to put this document along with some comment like "look I found this, seems awesome and we need to put this into our design".

I did this in the comments section, but this section will be very cramped and unorganised soon. Also, I think this comments section should rather be some "smalltalk" corner where people stumbling across the idea can unload their... comments... about it. Nothing more.

Right now, I (not being the creator of this idea) can't do much but make comments or link to something that I already made. Both is not what I need, so there should be more structure for the development of the idea.

If I understand the principle of the YM "Idea" section correctly, then the following stuff should be possible there:

1. Brainstorming (very important in the beginning)

2. Developing the idea: from raw idea to a clear image of what wants to be achieved

3. Find people and resources for the project

Brainstorming:

The comments section may be used for this, but I think that's just useful for smaller inputs in early stages. As soon as the comments get filled up with "yeah cool, I like that" posts, the inputs will get lost there.

I'd like to see a dedicated section to brainstorming and developing an idea.

Every registered user (prevent spam!) should be able to contribute to this section. Also, it should be possible for any contributor to create a structure. In the case of the vacuuming bot, this could be "hardware design", "software design", "mechanical design". Each of which will have it's own subdivision as the development progresses.

In my case, I'd like to put my input about a battery charging solution into "hardware design", subsection "power supply".

It's impossible to create such a substructure that fits every kind of idea, so it's crucial that this structure can be created by the contributors as they see fit, not provided by YM with either too little or too much structure.

Maybe, a "wiki" structure could be ideal for this. There's an empty main page in the beginning, and contributors can create their own categories and add articles. The articles can then be further developed and maybe commented on.

Now, all of this is not necessary for small projects, but for a huge project like creating a vacuuming bot (or the thing that I want to create which is also listed as an idea) it is essential.

Number 2 (development) will come automatically after some brainstorming. Interested contributors will shape the brainstorming, sort stuff out, and eventually get a complete overview of the project.

Number 3 is also important. Maybe there should be an "enlist" tab where users can enlist and say what they want to do to help with the project.

It's important that this section is kept clutter-free and cleaned up.

Ideally, the creator of the idea should be able to make a "wanted" list of what kind of contributor he needs like "electronics designer", "3D artist", "expert on vacuuming technology ( :) )".

I would not leave all this to a single "describe your idea" page. Most people are probably not going to read through the whole page anyways (I'm amazed you just read this post all the way until here, well done!!).

But if there's a section where you can quickly see what kind of contribution is wanted, then you might just think "hey I can do that, why not?".

Yikes, now I really have to get back to work o.O

 

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Some valid points right there, good thinking.

It definitely should be better organised, so you can find the info you want very fast.

Less time reading stuff, more time making/contributing, yaay!

People should be able to follow a project, so you automatically CAN get updates.

Something like a chatroom could also be convenient, for quick discussions or just small talk.

Good ideas usually come in such situations. It is also about fun :)

I see a lot of people already responded which is great.

Personally i would like to click their names and see something like a profile that tells me something about their skills and interests.

'Ideally, the creator of the idea should be able to make a "wanted" list of what kind of contributor he needs like "electronics designer", "3D artist", "expert on vacuuming technology' yes!

I saw another good line.. what was it again... mmmmmm.. Ah, found it!

'Yikes, now I really have to get back to work o.O'

 

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I gave it some more thought (after work of course) and I think a wiki would really be the best way to go. It should be fairly easy to embed (I only have basic HTML knowledge but if you can make a cool page like YM already is, it shouldn't be too difficult for you) and easy to use.

Then there's the transition from an idea to a project. There should be some way to convert an idea into a project without losing any of the content. Shouldn't be much more than renaming the thing from "idea" to "project" and maybe add more tools like a project plan, resource management, assignments and to do lists, I don't know... Maybe remove the comments at that point.

And I think it's important that the person who started the idea / project has "admin" rights for it, being able to moderate the content and giving other users rights for the project. Also, only he (or moderators he choses) should be able to delete content from the wiki. Or even better, enable only people to contribute to a wiki if they are "members" of the project that were chosen by the founder.

In my opinion, being the founder (that initiates a project / idea) is a reason to have these rights.

If that's too much restriction, make it a difference between ideas and projects: Ideas are open for everyone, projects are "members" only. If everyone can apply to be a member (which makes sense) then this is not a hurdle. But if you want to work on a project, you can't just let anyone mess around with your files and informations.

*look at my avatar and imagine some smoke coming out of the head*

Maybe we have to go much more basic...

I learned my business at an ISO9000 company (just had to bring that) where you work after a thoroughly (is that word correct? that looks weird...) thought out scheme called the "work flow" (or something).

Man I just read that last sentence three times, it sucks... I'm gonna leave it for you to have fun with it...

*more smoke*

Maybe it's too late already (hot day in Switzerland) but what I actually wanted to write was that I'd like for YM to provide a workflow and a toolset to keep things organised.

I'm one of the many people who needs this in order to stay focused. Otherwise I'll just lose track or interest at some point and quit. There are many examples like robot-creator forums where cool projects rise from nothing and, after some weeks, disappear back into nothing. If you want YM to work, then you have to counteract that!

Workflow:

Make stages:

1. Idea stage, brainstorming

2. Member and resource gathering. Organising members, contributors, moderators.

3. Make plans, make a project schedule (very important if you want to get somewhere), make forecasts

4. Get to work, by schedule

5. Complete the project by publishing the final project documentation and results

6. Maintain, improve, support, evolve...

Every stage needs it's tools. A wiki (I keep bringing that until you make one) already covers a lot. Shoutbox is good for brainstorming, too. Then some member management. A simple tool to make plans like timelines, schedules and stuff shouldn't be too difficult to create / implement from existing solutions. And then that's pretty much it...

All this is useful for larger projects (still thinking about the vacuuming-bot) but not for small stuff. So maybe the way to go is to have the project founder enable / disable all the tools as he sees fit.

Ok, that's enough for the moment :)

digest...

 

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Hey guys, I'm Bram Geenen, with some friends we I'm working on Wevolver (and we have an Ultimaker too :)

Great to read about your ideas! We are developing Wevolver to be a platform to host hardware projects. The goal is to provide a simple interface to structure and navigate collaborative projects

I have researched many open hardware projects and my experience is that the main thing is to keep the project structured and to keep overview of the content and progress. This will keep the project accessible to both longer term collaborators as well as to newcomers, which is essential for keeping projects alive

I agree that you need to subdivide a project, and create a structure of the parts of the project that are being developed.

Then you can keep content and communication dedicated in each part, to prevent the project from cluttering.

And yes this structure will be different for each project, and it could evolve during the project.

These are really the basic thoughts that we based Wevolver upon.

So far we have build a beta version and tested it with a couple of projects which went well. Now it is ready for a final development phase towards a version 1.0

I think it would be great if Youmagine could use what we have build so far!

We are currently redoing our homepage and some basic styling, so let me get back to you as soons as that's done and send you a link to the beta version.

 

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I'm not sure about giving an idea-founder admin rights. I think either a wikipedia-like collaboration, or a github-like forking system, holds more potential. Yes the starter of a project should be attributed, but for truly open collaboration you shouldn't have to ask for permission to contribute. Implementing permissions and artificial hierarchy could stifle collaboration.

For Wevolver we want starters of projects to be able to choose how open they want to be. As in what copyright license you choose, but also giving the possibility for closed and hidden projects. I'm really positive about open collaboration, but also pragmatic in the sense that not everyone always wants to, or can be fully open. What do you guys think about that?

O yeah, having a chat would be good indeed, both functional as well as making the project more lively!

How would you make a distinction between an idea and a project? When does an idea become a project?

Cheers!

 

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Hi Bram

Your project sounds interesting! One question: how do you handle electronics design? I mean what software do you use? That is the one thing that I'm not sure about when it comes to collaboration. Because I use Altium designer and I'm not really willing to switch to something else... I have created my own part libraries, templates etc.

I can't expect anyone to switch away from his preferred program, either, so there's gonna be a problem, especially with bigger projects or when a developer quits the project.

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Hey Jonny, I agree everybody has his own preferred set of tools. It would be impossible for a platform to cover all possible tools for hardware development without becoming a huge feature bloated monster. Instead I propose a more high level platform that connects with other tools and platforms. For example use Github to store your code, and link from the UM platform to Github. Another part of your project could indeed be electronics.. That part of the project should be linked to a relevant tool, or simply host the files you have created using your preferred online or desktop application.

I think we should make smart use of what’s already out there.

 

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Ok, so basically, there's no solution to my problem: If I use Altium, no one can directly collaborate unless he's using Altium, too...

I'm saying 'directly' bercause others can still comment and give inputs, but only I can incorporate them into the actual designs. So, if I (generally speaking) quit the project, it's f@cked.. o.O

Btw: I'm doing military service for the next three weeks, so it may take me some time to reply here.

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I don't know too much about Altium. If they are using a propietary file format that people only can open with Altium, yes then there is no solution. I can't see if there would be any way to solve that when propietary formats are being used.

If the files are a standard format that others can open too, then they should be able to 'fork' your file and create their own version.

 

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For Electronics Design there is Kicad(http://www.kicad-pcb.org/) and the GEDA(http://www.geda-project.org/) as open source solutions.

I would prefer KiCad as it is more user friendly than GEDA. But both lack a lot compared to Altium Designer. But they are open source so that lacking can (theoretically) be cured by enougth people using it,..

 

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For Wevolver we want starters of projects to be able to choose how open they want to be. As in what copyright license you choose, but also giving the possibility for closed and hidden projects. I'm really positive about open collaboration, but also pragmatic in the sense that not everyone always wants to, or can be fully open. What do you guys think about that?

 

Personally, I would love an option of open and closed projects.

For example, I have several projects that are semi-functional or in the finishing stages already. For those, I would like input from specific people from the community who know certain areas better than me (be it electronics, or programming or whatever), or whomever I think could help realize the idea.

I have a huge problem with too much input and too much participants when doing team projects. It tends to produce a bunch of clutter which in turn takes too much time to wade through, and eventually leads to chaos. Some people, and some ideas benefit from the open approach, but in my experience, designing stuff rarely works that way.

If I wanted to redesign, I don't know, a printbed, I don't think I would like to see comments and files from 50 people. When something is (almost) finished, it could then be "opened" for all to see and comment, so that the final touches can be polished and implemented easily, since there is a solid base to work on.

And yes, chat is a must. Comments are just too slow sometimes.

 

How would you make a distinction between an idea and a project? When does an idea become a project?

Cheers!

 

Well, an oversimplified version of all the serious teamwork I've done would go like this:

In the idea phase, there will be brainstorming, sketches, stuff like that. When everybody agrees that the concept is sound, and the idea is defined enough to make a plan who should make what and in what order, it becomes a project. Then actual work starts being done. By actual work I mean when everyone fires up their respective software tools and starts producing files which will enable a test of the concept or produce the first prototype or whatever the final result requires.

 

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You're right a project contains phases, including an ideation phase.

I can also see the difference between posting an idea and actually acting upon it, turning it from an idea into a project. Though in reality these line may be more blurry, and the decision to start a project is often a 'soft' one.

In any case I think there is value in being able to see in which phase a projects is. Though I am doubtful about a too strict approach as for example projects on http://www.openideo.com have.

 

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Complaint: Basic formatting stuff like "return" doesn't work in comments (namely comments for ideas). I just created a longer comment on my FPGA robots idea which is basically unreadable because all my "returns" got deleted...

Can this be fixed? :)

 

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