|Also available as an Acrobat File|
The Visualisation of Area-based Spatial Data|
3.2 Ease of use
Ease of use is fundamental for no matter how good a software system is, if the system is difficult to use this will discourage many from persevering with it. This assessment criterion includes the quality of the user interface and the quality of the support documentation.
The quality of the user interface refers to the organisation of the available options and the extent to which this organisation helps or hinders, in the first instance, the process of learning to use the software and subsequently, the process of continuing to use the software. Are the packages easy to come back to after a period of not using them? Windows interfaces place a barrier between user and system simply because they do not correspond to the way in which we are used to accessing tools in more general circumstances. Individual menu items are hidden and no matter how logical the structure of the menu, the user is inevitably confronted with the need to retain a mental map of how to access the required tools. This is true whether the system is essentially a cookbook compendium of tools or whether it is a system that provides the ingredients which the user must then select from and adapt in order to build their analysis.
The quality of the documentation - its comprehensiveness, how easy it is to use when needing to deal with problems - will also be assessed. Is there a tutorial guide with a trial dataset provided to help the user get started and appreciate the range of tools provided?
The implementation criterion is a technical criterion and includes how easy a package is to install, its portability, how easily it can be extended and the kinds of data formats that it supports.
The installation criterion includes how easy the package is to download or install on the users system. Portability includes the range of platforms on which the software will operate. Extensibility covers how easy it is for the user to add new facilities and whether this has to be done via the source code or whether facilities to attach macros are provided. Finally the issue of data formats refers to both inputs and outputs. Does the software read in data output by other packages and write out data that can be read in by other packages - and what are the packages it has such interfaces with?
Given the constraints on time it was not possible to make a full assessment of the four packages under all these criteria. The main focus of the assessment was to:
Therefore the approach which was used involved:
|cdv||http://cs6400.mcc.ac.uk/argus/||Project Argus home page at MIDAS|
|http://www.geog.le.ac.uk/argus||Project Argus page at leicester|
|Instructionson how to use Cdv from Midas with your own datasets and Midas.|
|MANET||http://www1.math.uni-augsburg.de/Manet/||Manual available on request from authors|
|SAGE||http://www.shef.ac.uk/~scgisa||Follow links to details of SAGE.|
|Download in tar file (which contains manual)|
|SpaceStat||http://www.rri.wvu.edu/||SpaceStat home page.|
|http://www.rri.wvu.edu/spacearc.htm||To download SpaceStat extension for ArcView 3.0) . User's guide for ArcView extension in progress|
|Table 4: The location of the web pages which provide further information about each of the packages described in this report.|
Graphics Multimedia Virtual Environments Visualisation Contents