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Monday, January 19, 2009

Update: Robotics Playground Templates

The last few weeks have been focused on getting the robotics playground up and running for the beta testers. A big part of configuring the system is deciding how to organize and deliver the user content.

On one hand, we can take the MySpace approach and give users nearly free reign to post whatever they want. This is good, because it allows creativity and novel presentation of design. The bad thing is, general 'net users don't create very compelling designs -- even if you know what looks good/bad, you aren't always motivated to create good design.

Enter the Facebook/LinkedIn approach -- novel content, "strict" layout. This is good because it allows people to post content without requiring much effort in design. It appeals to a different but broader set of users.

The DanShope.com Robotics Playground paradigm finds somewhat middle ground. The software will provide some basic templates that expose targeted functionality for different facets of project documentation. There is also a more general template that allows for some level of customization.

While this is in no way a new concept, our approach feels very hands off while guiding the design elements into an aesthetically pleasing form. This balance is something that must be considered at both the user interface and the back end/supporting software phases of development.

If the platform is too restrictive, it doesn't inspire users to post their creative content -- but if it's too loose, viewers en masse might find it displeasing to hunt out information and won't feel comfortable on the site.

I'll be posting more about these templates shortly.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Just for starters...

So, I've taken the plunge; I am going to become a blogger. One more voice in the interweb wind.

This is a sister area of DanShope.com my personal site and the home of the robotics community that I host. I'll be posting updates about the site and how the development is going, as well as some helpful guides for starting robotics, using CAD software, learning FEA, and being an effective web developer.

If you have any suggestions for articles/posts you'd like to see written, feel free to contact me. I love getting mail about the site and can generally respond pretty quickly. In the mean time, head on over and check us out!

We've got great news about upcoming robotic technologies and medical robotics as well as other interesting engineering topics. The robotics playground community hasn't gone live yet, but I'm hoping to push out of the development phase and get released by the end of the year.

I'll keep you posted!

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Who writes This Stuff?
Daniel Shope is the site owner and moderator of DanShope.com, a portal dedicated to robotics and engineering. Dan is currently a student at Carnegie Mellon University and is pursuing dual degrees in Mechanical and Biomedical engineering.

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