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JamesHillman

Flowing Applications

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Hello,

 

As a small side project for the summer, I'm planning on developing an application whose sole purpose is flowing. Before embarking, I thought it would be a good idea to get some input from the community who will (hopefully) be using it. So my question is, what does the perfect flowing application look like to you? Please, however, keep your responses in the realm of possibility – unfortunately speech to text technology has not advanced to the point that it can comprehend and type at 400 wpm.

 

Thanks in advance!

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  • Shorthand support, like in Synergy's flow
  • Preflow support - there's an offshoot of Synergy called DigiDebate which supports these for 1AC's and 1NC's - such a time saver.
  • Theory blocks - allow the user to type in their theory blocks and easily add them to the line by line. I imagine this working where I flow each point in, say, a condo block, then in prep go into the theory section and choose which blocks I want to use to answer it. That would make theory line by line a lot less repetitive effort. In terms of interface, look at the virtual tub setup in the latest version of Verbatim. There's a single button which opens a hierarchal menu and lets you drill down effectively to what you want to insert.
  • Maybe some sort of integration with Word - if you're skilled enough with VBA I'm sure there's a way to grab block headings, tags, and cites (if they're properly formatted) from a speech doc and import them into a flow. This would be amazing.
  • Color coding.
  • A logical place to put overviews.
  • Some sort of casebook - like synergy - you can fill in info from the judge's oral critiques to build up judge preferences. Maybe add a place for a link to their wiki.
  • Multi platform support, where applicable. Mac Word still is not up to par with VBA so I'm not sure if the Word integration will work on Mac, and I have absolutely no experience with whichever word processor DebateOS/Ubuntu uses, but it might allow integration.
  • For judging: an easy way to mark how much time was spent on each flow in each speech.
  • Extension macros, a la synergy

Let me know if there's anything I can do to help with this - I can send you a couple of flow templates for Excel as inspiration, and I'm more than happy to beta test.

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Thanks for the response! You included some good ideas I hadn't thought of. A few extra templates would be spectacular if you could send them.

 

For integration, I think I'll be able to work it in for all three systems. Windows should be easy with macro support in their development system, Mac shouldn't be bad with clipboard support in cocoa, and from my limited knowledge of Debate OS, anything I make that will work on Mac should work on there as well.

 

For timing, do you think a small timer integrated as part of the menu bar would be helpful with the capability of marking the time on each flow?

 

Thanks again!

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Here's the Synergy flow template: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ygd7ofl6lqs9j1h/Debate%20Synergy%20Flow.xltm

Here's the Synergy/Verbatim timer: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6k5aqdo3ulerq4x/Debate%20Synergy%20Timer.exe

Here's the DigiDebate flow template: https://www.dropbox.com/s/qdhq9qbjsc9my1s/DigiFlow.xltm

Here's my flow template which merges some of DigiDebate and Synergy: https://www.dropbox.com/s/u0p17slv0bmm3yr/Flow%202.0.xltm

 

I think that's a pretty good way to integrate the timer - maybe click it to insert a timestamp, or just automatically plug one in each time the flow changes.

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I've been using a mac for debate for the last three years, so it will difinitively be compatible with OSX. In fact, I'll probably be making the OSX version first because I know objective C better than I know C++ and BASIC.

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I have not tested the newest flow templates with LibreOffice. The last ones that I know, for sure worked, were Whitman 2.0 when they were .xls files.

 

As a coach, I generaly leave paperless flowing to the kids to learn. I'm a big proponent of handwritten flows for various reasons I won't get into. Most of it, though, revolves around efficiency and the belief that the more viewable visual map (not necessarily more legible) has benefits over the way we flow paperlessly.

 

This is mostly specific to the debaters. I don't think this causes too much of an issue for judges.

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Not sure if its possible (I'm not a programmer), but if you could make it so you could link you computer with your partners and instantly get their flows from your own speeches, that would be an amazing alternative to backflowing.

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Not sure if its possible (I'm not a programmer), but if you could make it so you could link you computer with your partners and instantly get their flows from your own speeches, that would be an amazing alternative to backflowing.

 

You ought to be able to set-up a Network for yourselves in the debate round. You do not need to be connected to the internet to share networked files/folders. All you'd need to do is one partner hits "Save" and the other one opens up the file. In most cases it would be "read only" but I'd be willing to bet you could set-up a co-flo without an internet connected network.

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It's definitely possible to set up the application to function over the internet and/or an ad-hoc network set up in round. I created a similar infrastructure to make a real time card flipping function earlier in the year. I did, however, use built-in functions with an iPad that I didn't design, so I never really learned the networking components. It's certainly possible to create an efficient, real-time flow sharing component, but it's probably more long term. If you want to do something like "Nature Boy" suggests and simply be able to save the file on a shared folder, that can easily be done using public folders over an ad-hoc network with almost any flowing template. I think the trick will be to create some kind of system that seamlessly provides real time updates to some form of co-flow. I'll do my best to find a way, but definitely no promises on this one for the beta release.

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Not sure if its possible (I'm not a programmer), but if you could make it so you could link you computer with your partners and instantly get their flows from your own speeches, that would be an amazing alternative to backflowing.

It's definitely possible to set up the application to function over the internet and/or an ad-hoc network set up in round. I created a similar infrastructure to make a real time card flipping function earlier in the year. I did, however, use built-in functions with an iPad that I didn't design, so I never really learned the networking components. It's certainly possible to create an efficient, real-time flow sharing component, but it's probably more long term. If you want to do something like "Nature Boy" suggests and simply be able to save the file on a shared folder, that can easily be done using public folders over an ad-hoc network with almost any flowing template. I think the trick will be to create some kind of system that seamlessly provides real time updates to some form of co-flow. I'll do my best to find a way, but definitely no promises on this one for the beta release.

 

I think that real-time flow sharing is needlessly complex for most uses that aren't "let my partner write the line by line for the second half of my 1AR" - backflowing can be done stably and efficiently after a speech anyways. I'm not sure what you're building this app in, but if I were to try to implement this in Excel, I would probably do something like this. Partners save their flows in separate folders with only the flow in them on a flash drive. Excel can easily pull in the correct flow without prompting for a filename this way, just preset the folders and tell excel to open the excel doc in the folder. Partners should give their flows the same names, and then all that needs to be done is for the receiving partner to fire up the macro, choose which speech to receive, and the macro will copy the correct cells to the corresponding flows.

 

Anyhow, I think a function that just pulls in a relevant section from another flow on command will be more than adequate for backflowing, and much less work than a real-time configuration.

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Thanks for the response! You included some good ideas I hadn't thought of. A few extra templates would be spectacular if you could send them.

 

For integration, I think I'll be able to work it in for all three systems. Windows should be easy with macro support in their development system, Mac shouldn't be bad with clipboard support in cocoa, and from my limited knowledge of Debate OS, anything I make that will work on Mac should work on there as well.

 

For timing, do you think a small timer integrated as part of the menu bar would be helpful with the capability of marking the time on each flow?

 

Thanks again!

Just add cool timer. Harmony Hollow software. Google it

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