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Yet another untitled post


On June 29th  I gave a demo of ICE at an event called The Successful Repository.

Andrew Treloar, who says he is in charge of generating acronyms for projects named after pointy objects (ARROW and DART), asked me a couple of questions. It happens that Andrew is the program chair for the AusWeb conference, where I gave my paperabout ICE.

AusWeb paper sessions are a bit unusual – instead of everyone talking for half an hour or so on their paper, with a few minutes for questions if you're lucky, presentations are much shorter. Three or four presenters talk for 10 minutes or so each, and then form a sort of a panel, and discussion starts. I have seen this work really well.

So for my presentation on my ICE paper at Ausweb I thought I might do a demonstration of ICE, using this very document. You can see the final presentation on my site . It is generated from the same source document as this blog post.

By the way, ICE is now using a system called Slideous for web presentations which is apparently inspired by Slidy. Bron Dye of the RUBRIC project did the work to set up Slideous ICE templates.

If you're reading this that means I was not torn to pieces by other AusWeb delegates.

About this demo

The demo will:

  1. Show how I use ICE to write multipurpose documents.

  2. Show-off ICE's new slide presentation features.

    (which I wrote about earlier)

  3. Answer Andrew Treloar's questions.

    And any more questions that came up...

Andrew's questions

Why Python?

ICE is written in Python because:

  1. The Java programmers in our team at USQ were not confident of writing a cross-platform application.

  2. Python ships with OpenOffice.org.

    At this stage we use a different Python version, but some ICE code could be used with OOo in future...

  3. Python can be compiled into stand alone executables for Mac OS X and Windows.

  4. Python has all the libraries we need.

I don't write courseware. Do I need ICE?

I use ICE to look after my stuff (that is back it up, and keep track of document versions).

Which stuff?


: - This weblog.

- A couple of book-proposals.

- Admin stuff like tax spreadsheets.

More stuff in ICE: RUBRIC project

  • Board documents and meeting packages.

    (book and web versions)

  • Technical reports

  • Papers like my AusWeb paper

    Complete with automated link footnotes

  • Administrivia like forms

  • Coming soon – RUBRIC web site.

More stuff in ICE: ICE project

  • All the doco for ICE

  • The ICE web site.

More discussion from the AusWeb session

The two other papers in the session with mine (RikWik and DotWikIE) were wiki systems, so there was a bit of discussion about 'horses for courses'; how we need to have a variety of systems for different kinds of documents. A word processor is useful for longer documents, while Wikis are useful for note-style communal pages, such as the contacts page we keep for our proejct.

But how do you enforce high quality?

A fair bit of discussion was about how to keep standards high when ICE does not do content validation.

  • ICE is an enabler not a constrainer.

    • An XML system with a validating editor did not catch on with USQ lecturers.

    • A word processor based system seems more likely to succeed, but cannot do strict validation.

  • Schematron validation could be used to help 'health check' content.

  • A strict system can be very costly when exceptions are needed.

More on quality

  • Quick feedback via automated XHTML formatting teaches people to use styles.

  • Complete course templates including the all major elements that should be there help most people to do an acceptable job.

  • USQ still has editorial services available for distance materials.

Image handling in ICE?

ICE deals with bit map images like this JPEG of me and Spensa...


... but vector graphics remain a huge problem for word processing in general. SVG support is missing from both Microsoft Word and Writer.