I have been getting a little bit on a roll with the book. I got one chapter approved and another chapter written in first draft form. I like the style of it. I hope the publisher can get me an illustrator. There are tons of pictures and my reliance on Microsoft Clip Art is pretty strong right now.
One case study I did was with a program I used to use called InfoSelect. InfoSelect has always had a wonderful selection model. You get this search boxs with lots of little squares. As you type, the squares go from red to black to indicate a match. It searches random information stored on basic index card-looking things. On the left is a free form tree for storing info. I was basically writing about Featuritis. This is the phenomenon where features are added to a product without adding any real value. In many cases, it reduces value because the program becomes confusing, bloated and slow. I think InfoSelect has suffered from this affliction.
However, I thought about what InfoSelect could have done to improve their product instead. My conclusion was that InfoSelect would make an AWESOME Web 2.0 application. It is simple and elegant. The search would work perfectly with Ajax. It would be valuable, especially in context of a Google Documents. Imagine Google Docs had a section called “Notes”. The UI allowed you to type in whatever you wanted and gave you the InfoSelect super search interface. I would be excited for a feature like that. Rather than designing more features into the windows program, they should be creating InfoSelect as “Software as Service”.
I am not sure if that search feature is patented or what, but even if InfoSelect doesn’t build it I think someone should. It’s a UI begging to be on the web. In fact, I can see that search model used for other things. Books on Amazon. Flights on Expedia. Messages in Gmail. Any search really. The only stumbling block is speed. InfoSelect is blazing fast. I wonder if the web will ever get that fast.