Interactive Development of a Technology Radar

If you don’t know what a Technology Radar is, first go off and take a quick look at Neal Ford’s excellent article on the topic. For the purposes of this post you don’t have to read it thoroughly, although at some point I highly recommend that you do.

Read it yet? Or at least familiar with the concept? Let’s plow on.

Briefly the article describes (admittedly with some extrapolation on my part) a two stage process for creating a radar that consists of a brainstorming session followed by generating a graphic from a data file describing the radar.

The transcription process sounded tedious, which might lead you to think about creating a specialized app to help with the process. But I think sometimes we are too quick to build an app simply for the sake of building an app. In this case I was wary of loosing the creative nature inherent in the flow of these kind of post-it and whiteboard exercises. So I followed the two stage process for developing my own radar.

During the transcription process I noticed that the radar wasn’t really quite “done”. Reviewing the graphics generated for my radar data led me into a tweak-rerender-tweak loop where I kept fine tuning the graphical presentation. There were enough changes that I convinced myself there was a real benefit to a one stage process, a more interactive process, and that was sufficient justification for an application.

Furthermore, I wanted to preserve the essential fluidity of the post-it note exercise. That called for a graphical application and avoiding a modal screen-at-time approach to editing the radar.

I’m not a UX designer, but  I had some ideas that I wanted to try out, and realistically isn’t that how most designers start out? In particular I wanted something where where editing actually took place in the visualization, with relatively easy to discover affordances (like my other UX experiment).

So that app is now available as a chrome web app on on the chrome store with source available in a github project. The open question in my mind is does my thesis actually hold up to casual inspection? Does the one stage process offer benefits the two stage process does not? And if so, does the application capture that benefit and improve the process despite the shortcomings it has?

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