Representations for Idea Capture in Early Software and Hardware Development

Petre, Marian (2009). Representations for Idea Capture in Early Software and Hardware Development. Technical Report 2009/12; Department of Computing, The Open University.



This paper presents evidence of how professional software and hardware designers currently capture ideas early in the design process, both individually and in collaboration. The paper reports in detail on a corpus study of over 1000 examples of idea capture representations collected from 15 designers in various design teams over 6 years. Examples include informal notes and sketches which designers made for their personal use, as well as sketches made for discussion at meetings, on whiteboards, in the pub, etc. The paper characterises the corpus, discussing which representations designers use when allowed to choose freely, how designers' informal representations relate to the formal representations from their discipline, how the character of their informal representations facilitates design discussions, and why many of the functions afforded by their sketching are not well supported by existing CAD systems. It discusses what the observations and sketches reveal about requirements for an idea-capture tool that supports collaborative design.

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