Monday, April 2, 2007

Guidance Explorer Revisited - Part 1

One of the exciting projects on which I have worked in recent times is Guidance Explorer. It is a great tool that enables Consumption, Creation, and Distribution of development guidance. I believe its a very useful but underrated tool, hence thought it might be a good idea to run a few posts in an attempt to bring forth the real power of the tool.

In this post I am going to talk about GE features enabling consumption of guidance. There are two aspects to guidance consumption, Discovery and Composition. First you need to discover the relevant guidance and then organize the guidance in a way that makes sense from your project perspective. GE helps you with both these activities.

Following features in GE improves the discovery of guidance.

patterns & practices Library - GE by default comes with a subscription to a online patterns & practices library, which is a central store of modular, trustworthy, quality, comprehensive development guidance. This library is updated by p&p folks on regular basis. So you have a single place to look for required guidance rather than hunting all over the Internet.

Metadata attributes
- Each guidance module in the Guidance Library has following set of metadata attributes with it
  • Rule Type – Describes the impact of this item (e.g. Design, Implementation, Deployment)
  • Technology – Describes a specific technology and version this item applies to (e.g. ASP.NET 2.0)
  • Topic – Describes the major area of concern this item addresses (e.g. Security, Performance, Reliability)
  • Category – Describe a secondary categorization that can be used to organize the item beyond topic (e.g. Caching, Input/Data Validation)
  • Authors - List all the major contributors to the item
  • Status – Describes stage of completion (e.g. Beta, Release)
  • Priority – Describes relative importance of this item (e.g. 1, 2, 3)
These attributes are displayed in the guidance list view along with the title of each guidance module and can be used for sorting, filtering or searching the guidance list. Having a rich set of metadata further enhances the discoverability of required and relevant guidance.

Default Views - patterns & practices provides default type views of the guidance available for example Guidelines, Mini How Tos, Checklist items etc. They help in narrowing down the search by specific types.

You can download the Guidance Explorer at the following location

You can download latest source code for Guidance Explorer, it consists of source code for Guidance Explorer client and online store, on which patterns and practices library runs.


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