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How do you use the symbols and want to access them? #36

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SteveALee opened this Issue Feb 14, 2019 · 13 comments

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@SteveALee
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commented Feb 14, 2019

I feel we should be doing a requirements analysis here to best support users of the symbols. We currently just provide a big zip of SVG symbols which might suite developers but not others.

Who are our users?

  • AAC developers - Add to their project. Want local copy? API? [Current implicit focus]
  • SALTs (SLPs) - less technical - printing on boards or add to AAC tools.
  • Carer/supporters? - probaby only want to print one or 2 symbols.
  • Others?

Some History
In Straight Street days the symbols were really aimed at SALTs and it was hope to encourage more devs, especially in innovative, open and online applications. Originally the symbols were provided in fixed resolution formats of various sizes and WMF (now fortunately obsolete and somewhat replaced by SVG). The source Adobe Illustrator files were not published and WMF was full of bugs and Windows only (not a problem at the time). A visitor to StrStr could select a set of symbols and download them in a ZIP. These seemed to cover most uses cases at the time, but expectations of users was low IMHO.

I pushed SVG format as being an ideal scalable technology despite very limited support at the time. Since then, the need for responsive designs to support widely varying screen sizes has led to much better SVG format on the web and other places. I'm not sure about iOS.

@josephoconnor

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commented Feb 14, 2019

For #AAC systems search by keyword for individual symbols is vital. If I want to assign a symbol to a button or print it I must be able to search. We use printed symbols for picture schedules and the same symbols for corresponding buttons in software.

@SteveALee

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commented Feb 14, 2019

@josephoconnor

So what would the user story be for you when interacting with mulberry directly to obtain symbols? I dont't mean finding Mulberry symbols already loaded in an AAC device as tha tis more a developers requirment for us.

How about:

As a supporter I want to search for Mulberry symbols that I later print or add to an AAC device so that I can enance the vocabulary of a user

We had that in the old StrStr site and @gavinhenderson has ideas which we are tracking in #31

@josephoconnor

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commented Feb 14, 2019

Entire symbol libraries are loaded into #AAC devices to provide instant access. When we first took Siobhan to Ireland on the first morning we were having a full Irish and Siobhan asked for hot dog. We made a new button for sausage. No time to download.

@josephoconnor

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commented Feb 14, 2019

As a supporter I will load the Mulberry library into the AAC device to provide instant access to all symbols.

@gavinhenderson

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commented Feb 14, 2019

As an AAC Dev I would rather have a local copy that is in a managed package. Means I can use it locally but also not have to worry about a cumbersome update process if I want access to any newly added symbols. Even if I have all the symbols locally when i come to build my site every symbol I don't use will be tree shaken out so its not going to add weight to my build.

Although, on the flip side, if I want the symbols to be customized by the user I would like an API so they can search all symbols and not need them sent down with the page. However, I would personally rather implement this API for my own system each time than using a generalised one.

@SteveALee

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commented Feb 14, 2019

@josephoconnor thanks for the clarification - So you only really search for and use with the symbols directly in the AAC device? There's probably plenty of work to be done to allow a search to be effective accross a range of symbol sets. Hopefully OpenAAC might help, but most are proprietary and might not want to collaborate.

I guess you might want to be involved in new symbol requests and reviews at Mulberry?

@SteveALee

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commented Feb 14, 2019

@gavinhenderson Yes a npm package seems like a priority. node_modules are massively bloaty anyway so the full Mulberry symbol set will hardly be noticed :)

I'm not sure how tree shacking will work with the symbols. though it is fairly mature these days in key bundlers.

The npm module will need a few utility functions to provide easy access - so we'll still need to define an API! Just not RESTful.

@SteveALee

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commented Feb 14, 2019

@gavinhenderson I agree about rolling your own API. Since I created the original API, developing and hosting APIs has become almost trivial and low cost (free), eg with node serverless options.

@SteveALee SteveALee changed the title How do people use symbols and so want to access them How do you use the symbols and want to access them? Mar 15, 2019

@gavinhenderson

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commented Mar 19, 2019

Hey @SteveALee, what the next step from this?

Personally I see this spinning into different repos:

  • One for symbol maintenance and distribution (via NPM)
  • Another for a website/platform that uses the symbol package from NPM and makes them searchable as well as allowing a request for a new symbol (might open an issue on the first repo?)
@SteveALee

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commented Mar 19, 2019

Thanks for asking - I'll give it thought. Maybe have a chat next week?

Yes, the original single repo was a 'get it working quick' when only the symbols and a web page. I don't see point of splitting Web from symbol management.

I lean towards static hosting where possible, perhaps with serverless backend when required. ie JAMStack.

It would be useful to get better idea of how people will use them - eg NPM good for devs but not carers / SALTs.

@josephoconnor

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commented Mar 20, 2019

@SteveALee

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commented Mar 20, 2019

Thanks, @josephoconnor.

One Problem we face is there are no standards for meta data and "file" formats or indeed upload mechanics (USB dongle, wired connection, etc) .

Perhaps a job for the OpenAAC group or GlobalSymbols!

@SteveALee

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commented Mar 20, 2019

We could start a database of symbol upload technologies and formats. though I guess many are proprietary

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