Virtual KVM Swtiches and PM Portal (OpenSource)

okvm – Open source virtual KVM solutions

KVM switches allow a single operator to control multiple computers and they have evolved from patch panels and mechanical switches to digital KVM switches and KVM over IP devices. However they all involve some hardware switch device. The notion of “virtual KVM” involves using software to route the operator’s Keyboard output, Video input, and Mouse output to/from the target computer – over the IP network.

Synergy – virtual control of multiple computers

Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It’s intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s).

Redmine – Full project management portal

Redmine is a flexible project management web application written using Ruby on Rails framework.

SimpleDiagrams, Git and jQuery Mobile

Wireframing using Eclipse and WireframeSketcher

WireframeSketcher – an Eclipse Wireframe plugin

WireFrameSketcher LogoI came across WireFrameSketcher whilst looking for an easy to use, extensible wireframe tool for help show clients concepts and ideas. This product appealed to me because:

  • WireframeSketcher is an addin to Eclipse
  • WireframeSketcher is easy to use
  • WireframeSketcher is modular – in other words screens and wireframes can comprise other screens and wireframes (effectively templates and masters) which means that one change to the master has the effect of updating all child wireframes – BRILLIANT
  • WireframeSketcher can easily export to both PDF and PNG graphics
  • WireframeSketcher has a Storyboard facility which creates dynamic, hot linkable walk-throughs for the customer that can be easily exported
  • WireframeSketcher works in XML format files, making it easy for me to re-use and create import and exports to other systems
  • WireframeSketcher is plain and simple without so many options it takes weeks to learn
  • WireframeSketcher integrates into most Eclipse based systems including Flex3 from Adobe
  • WireframeSketcher has a free version that is NOT crippled except for an export cross on images

Another think I liked about Peter’s philosophy was that he was open to providing full versions for those people (like myself :) ) who were happy to blog about products that were actually very good at doing what they say they do!

Refactoring

After having used the software within Eclipse Helios, Ganymede and Flex3 Builder I found it very easy to use and integrate with other applications. WireframeSketcher has recently (within the last few days) been updated with ‘Refactoring‘. Refactoring overcomes the problems with linking to master screens and then changing the names or locations of those screens. Any changes are automatically propogated via Eclipse – WireframeSketcher now supports the plugins that support this feature.

In use, refactoring is a MAJOR saving of time… When screens are created they inevitably get created in an unorganised manner. As time goes on the repositories for the screens gets tidied up and re-vamped. Refactoring allows you to move and rename objects without breaking all your wireframe designs – this is VERY useful!

Extensible Palette

The WireframeSketcher’s extensible palette option extends the concepts of assets so that you create and maintain your own repository of objects to be used within your wireframe. These objects can be images or screens (master). The rendering in the palette shows a small preview of the object which can be further divided sown into categories for grouping purposes. This is a great concept and works really well within the whole Eclipse framework.

Other useful WireframeSketcher facilities

Generallyy speaking wireframeSketcher works straight out of the box, it’s simple to use and install within any Eclipse based environment. I was using this tool within minutes and have added it to my essential tools. Wireframing is key to creating good customer feedback and helps so much with the design process; before critical resources have been allocated ideas can be shown for approval.

Overall here are the main aspects I love about WireframeSketcher:

  • It’s EASY to use (I was using this tool within minutes)
  • It uses COMPONENTS. Screens and wireframes are composed of other screens and components, which means one update affects multiple screens instantaly
  • It utilises HOTSPOTS so that links work, and enables a create INTERACTIVE prototype to be demonstrated to the customer.
  • It has support for STORYBOARDS. It will even bundle the storyboard automatically into a single file PDF that can be sent to the customer – including all hotspots.
  • It uses a good selection of generic WIDGETS provided with the installation
  • It’s easy to UPDATE (of course via Eclipse!)
  • It uses a set of WIKI syntax to create options within the WIDGETS – for example in the tab control, you can set which tab is enabled and highlighted, the Treeview control has mutliple otptions for the look and feel that can all be set within the actual widget.
  • There is the start of a MOCKUPS GALLERY that has a small selection of completed screens that would be useful for starting projects (for example there is an iPhone selection for prototyping iPhone applications)
  • WireframeSketcher shows GUIDE LINES on the screen when objects line up properly and also allows nudging, zooming, etc. with keyboard controls for accuracy.
  • WireframeSketcher comes with a great collection (over 140) of icons for contours in various sizes (small, medium, large, extra large) so that adding arrows and icons for forms is merely a question of selecting from a list (again all keyboard controlled if required)
  • There is much much more than discussed here! Lastly I love the fact that the whole system is based on open XML formats – which means that each wireframe could easily be repurposed for other systems.

In summary, WireframeSketcher is a comprehensive system that allows effective wireframing within the Eclipse environment. For any developer out there using Eclipse, I would say without hesitation that this addin should be at the top of your list and your design process. It is worth every penny of the official registration, and allows another dimension to the development cycle – especially if you already use Eclipse for your development platform. 5 out of 5.

Goto: http://wireframesketcher.com/index.html

Project In A Box keeps on improving – free Prince2 project management software

Project in a Box - Community Edition

http://www.projectinabox.org.uk/portability.asp

Project In A Box just goes from strength to strength. Now supplied in four versions including the community edition (CE); which is free. This software can be run in a portable mode enabling you to take the project management framework (Prince2) with you wherever you go, this is especially important for consultants who need to take all the project documentation with them.

The Community Edition is used by many training companies as it covers the full Prince2 Framework and comes with the Prince2 templates as standard, which can be customised and tailored for the company. Not only does the community edition cover all the aspects of Prince2 2005 but now comes standard with compliance for 2009 and DSDM Atern the agile method. The CE edition is multi-language and can be customised with your own translation file if required. Once familiar with the Community Edition you can upgrade to the full Personal Edition whilst keeping all your existing settings and templates.

The Personal Edition is a DotNet application utilising the Microsoft Framework which is available on most PC’s. This enables the software to be run from a USB memory stick and completely portable, whilst only having a small disk space and memory overhead. The application is fast as well.

In practice the application runs very well and because of the inbuilt ‘version control’ you can always revert or review privious editions of the Prince2 artifacts throughout the project. Apparently CE is now used by over 50,000 users WorldWide and provided by most of the official Prince2 ATO’s as part of the course materials.

Sometime ago I wrote a tiddlywiki on Prince2. Mostly notes and musings when I was taking the Prince II practitioners exam. Some of you may find it interesting. The thing I really liked was using the tiddlywiki wiki engine which allows you to create a completely self contained wikki that can be edited locally on your PC and then uploaded to the web for others.

Also see my posting on Prince2 (as I am a Prince2 practitioner :-) )

Interesting Links for Prince2

  1. The Official Prince2 website
  2. The Prince2 2009 official templates

Komodo Editor for OpenSource

activestateKomodo IDE 4 is the first unified workspace for end-to-end development of dynamic web applications. A rich feature set for client-side Ajax languages such as CSS, HTML, JavaScript and XML, coupled with advanced support for dynamic languages such as Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby and Tcl, enables developers to quickly and easily create robust web apps.

komodo-editKomodo Edit 4 is a free, multi-language editor that makes it easy to write quality code. Focus on what your code can do; let your editor sweat the details. Background syntax checking and syntax coloring catch errors immediately, while AutoComplete and CallTips guide you as you write. Available on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

Download Komodo IDE from here

From the same organisation you can download the brilliant ActivePerl and ActivePython. Also checkout all the code (easily downloaded) that you can learn from here.

via Komodo | ActiveState Community Site.

Prince2 TiddlyWiki and Process map

PrinceII TiddlyWiki by Jonathan CampSometime ago I wrote a tiddlywiki on Prince2. Mostly notes and musings when I was taking the Prince II practitioners exam. Some of you may find it interesting. The thing I really liked was using the tiddlywiki wiki engine which allows you to create a completely self contained wikki that can be edited locally on your PC and then uploaded to the web for others.

I also did  a ‘map’ of all the documentation of the Prince2 framework showing where the document is created, where it’s output and where it’s updated. This is a crucial document for the exam as it helps answer many questions and acts as a good crib sheet; especially when you’re panicking and running out of time!

The Prince II exam is changing…

Prince II the project management standard prevalent in the UK is changing. The new exam will not focus on the tedious three hour exam that you have to sit through (I had to do it and it was not enjoyable). Even though this exam is an open book exam, it’s still fraught as the answers can be subjective and generally you do not have enough time to prepare your answer.

Read my PrinceII tiddlywiki information with all matters relating to PrinceII. This is a downloadable and editable wiki that can run on your own PC for PrinceII information at your fingertips! I have also created a PrinceII product process matrix that helps to understand what documents are required and which process in PrinceII creates and maintains them.

This video helps to explain both the current weaknesses in the exam system for PrinceII plus the reasoning behind the new exam structure.