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Posts Tagged ‘review’

Review: SMART Notebook on OS X Leopard

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

  I fundamentally think that the idea behind SMART solutions is a great one. The consumer electronics industry is all abuzz over touch-screen technology, and it’s no question that many devices are heading in this direction in the coming years.

I also think that the principles behind the software, and its ideal functionality, are well thought-out. SMART Notebook provides a potentially complete feature set.

What I take issue with is completely under the hood. While 99% of all educators that use SMART Notebook will never complain about this sort of thing, I do find it sufficiently frustrating to air my concerns here.

SMART Notebook was designed, as all Windows applications, to be a stand-alone, self-contained application. As such, it has its own proprietary file format, and doesn’t “play well” with other applications.

My problem is precisely with this philosophy of software design. I believe applications should be treated as environments that perform one task, and perform it well. Abstracted this way, one would construct “piped” workflows that take the output of one environment and channel it into the input of another. What this would mean, for SMART Notebook, is that as a software environment, it would be able to tap into system level APIs that draw on the resources of other application environments. It could import and export files of any type, display schemas for files that were organized elsewhere, and rely on other applications to perform specific tasks that have been poorly implemented in Notebook’s current manifestation.

Software shouldn’t be envisioned as a vertical system. It should work laterally to provide the most effective user interface.

And yes, I’m especially bitter over this because Notebook was developed on Windows, and simply ported over to the Mac, without paying any attention to the Human Interface Guidelines that all self-respecting Mac developers follow like a bible. It doesn’t behave like any other application on my computer, and so I actually find myself discouraged from using it.

I sincerely hope SMART Tech. raises its development standards with version 11. As far as Windows programs go, it’s a fine piece of software – but the Mac platform is a little more demanding in its interface standards.

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