Browsers and software – not everyone can have the latest version

Flash – not the comic hero but the software, take some time to browse software and technical forums it generates huge comment. From those who want the iPhone to support Flash to others who will do anything that they can to avoid using Flash. Move sideways and you’ll see another discussion playing out about browsers, a few months ago you could easily find tech magazines and forums about Internet Explorer 6. .net magazine has ran a campaign called bring down ie6

This is nothing knew. In the early 90’s when I started working the designers and the programmers would discuss the merits of the PC v Mac. The PC users didn’t like the one button mouse, the mac users didn’t like the PC interface.

I read the current technical discussions with interest and sometimes they help to get things moving forward. The open source community is a great example of discussion, working together, testing and developing to refine the software.

For developers of e-learning this technical challenge is part of the job. It’s not just simple to say to your client that they need to update to the latest browser or move everyone up to the latest version of flash to get your solution working. Having worked in IT strategy supporting over 8000 users the update to the latest version of a piece of software looks quite straightforward but sometimes isn’t. As a result you might find that you are working with versions of software much lower than you are used to.

As developers we have more software available at our disposal then every before and so much of it is free. When working on a new project one of my first questions is ‘what is the PC/Mac specification’ many companies will have a specification document that you can follow. You may be disappointed if you get the answer that it’s IE6, early version of flash and no sound cards but this is when you need to get creative. My approach is to create ideas first and then apply it to the software. If you have a good idea and a narrative it will work across a range of platforms and you can deploy the version that meets you technical specification. I sometimes that think that it is easy to forget what we have, my first PC had 256mb hard drive and today I’m working around with a 16gig iPhone that can post me a GPS location, play music and I can get my email. This is where I start:

1.    Establish the computer specification
2.    Ask if you can complete a site test before the project hits start up to identify any technical issues early
3.    Focus on creative ideas – you can map good ideas to any platform – recent ports to the iPhone and iPad show this
4.    Manage expectations – if you know what the limitations are then communicate this to the project team
5.    Set up a clone machine in your office – you need to be testing in your target machine

It can be tricky to set up point 5 so you might think about asking the client if you can borrow one of them machines! It can be done I once managed to get a dual boot on Windows 95 using English and Japanese versions.

Keep the technical requirements in mind but don’t be constricted by it. If you start feel like that picking up an old course and see what you did all those years ago. I’d bet that it is still excellent work!

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Browsers and software – not everyone can have the latest version

One Response

  1. Great post. It’s sometimes easy to forget that learners are not using the latest apps, OSs, browsers and kit as ourselves.

    Having constraints like this really does require you to be more creative and thoughtful.

    Rob Alton July 26, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

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