13 August 2010

When my friends and I considered how to create a capstone project for our senior design course, we decided to use the content of the course itself and proposed a project that would unify the many distribution means for that content in a single rich Internet application.

Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) 411/450 is a senior capstone course in which students simulate the complexities of real-world corporations and business environments related to applied computer graphics. Part of this simulation includes the student and faculty functions of generating, tracking, and maintaining large amounts of mock data, including stock information, press releases, and corporate and individual finances. Typically, these functions have been achieved through multiple mechanisms including websites, RSS feeds, forums, and conferencing applications.

We found it inefficient to disseminate information for the course without a centralized source of knowledge for tracking of tasks and felt that not having such a source detracted from the true goal of the course, the scholarly research endeavor. Our team, composed of Alex Porter, Adam Christ, Brian McCreight, and myself, proposed the creation of a rich Internet application using Adobe® AIR® technology, with the goal to consolidate the functions of the multiple simulation mechanisms into a single, unified application.

Currently the CGT 411/450 course uses multiple channels to provide information to students regarding the three primary pillars of the course: the scholarly research endeavor, the product development, and the corporation entities. Our team investigated multiple rich Internet application technologies that could be used to create an application to solve the perceived problem. After developing an interest in Adobe AIR, we researched an assortment of competing technology platforms to determine if Adobe AIR was the most effective choice. The technologies platforms we analyzed included Microsoft Silverlight, Google Gears, Java™ FX, and Mozilla Prism.

The rich Internet application we developed was a culmination of web technologies. These included ActionScript® 3.0 using Adobe Flash® CS3, PHP, MySQL, and Adobe AIR. We named the application "CGCentral" to emphasize its goal to serve as a central point of knowledge for students enrolled in the course. We employed the vector graphics capabilities of Adobe Flash CS3 for the end-user interface and programmed using ActionScript 3.0. Adobe AIR allowed us to target and package the application for an end-user's desktop. We divided CGCentral into four sections to provide the end user with specific areas from which to receive information: Account Overview, Lecture Schedule, Stocks, and News.

CGCentral is a work in progress. We will continue assessment and usability testing to ensure that an effective application is completed that achieves the goals of the project.