Sprint report: user stories and wireframes

The core TAPAS team met at Wheaton College from January 11th through the 13th for the first of four development meetings funded by an NEH Digital Humanities Startup Grant. The goal of this initial meeting was to develop a skeletal paper prototype of the TAPAS application on the basis of our prior work on user stories and functional requirements, and to produce a concrete framework that would help a developer begin the work of actual coding.

In preparation for the meeting, we created an initial set of user stories and planned a series of focused exercises that would transform this list of abstract user requirements into a series of more or less concrete application visualizations. Through a collaborative process, these user stories—with additions during the course of the meeting—were numbered, printed on individual pieces of paper, and then sorted into groups representing functional areas. We then discussed each area in turn to get a more precise sense of its scope and priority within the current development effort, noting that some TAPAS features will need to be deferred until the next phase of funding. Finally, we considered each story and where necessary fleshed it out or translated it into a specific software function that could be mapped onto a wireframe. In some cases, stories were merged or moved around as our discussion revealed unseen dimensions of the information flow or user interactions.

During this phase, a number of interesting and useful discussions arose regarding the implicit assumptions and models that we each were bring to the project. For example, how many different kinds of entities does TAPAS need to provide for in its authorization model? Do we envision “individuals”, “projects”, and “organizations” or is this too complex? To what extent can we assume that relevant metadata will live inside the TEI document, and to what extent should it be maintained in separate metadata records?

In the final part of the meeting, we created a set of abstract wireframes for each functional area of the TAPAS site and service. This process was extremely useful in revealing assumptions about both work processes and information models, some of which will require further attention and input from the TAPAS community as we continue to develop the service.

Following the meeting, members of the group are producing a more polished set of wireframes with an accompanying narrative which we will share with the TAPAS community. At that stage we will be seeking feedback on some ideas and assumptions about the service, so please stay tuned!