One of the papers I read (and mentioned in a much earlier lit review post) “A System for Developing Tablet PC Applications for Education” mentioned that it wasn’t built for code review and it wasn’t even fully implemented. Well.. that was published in 2008 which means it was written probably in 2007, long time ago for someone who cares about their software and has time to work on it.

I wrote to the authors and one of them (the lead, Sam Kamin) replied. I’ll give him credit here and now for spending time replying to several emails, it’s very nice of him.

He mentioned that the software is now a framework and it’s called SLICE. Has a website. Is downloadable. Later I found it has a code review mod (they call mods “applications”). Have a look:

This does nearly everything I need. Yes it looks like Paint but I could hardly hope to do much better in the part time I have to implement it. You can open multiple files, scroll through them, handwrite anything anywhere with any colour, erase annotations. It’s actually much more fancy than I need (for example supporting multiple clients working with the same session).

So I could use this with minor modifications. Most likely I would only need to work on the extension and if I need to change the framework itself that option may be made available to me. What’s the problem? It’s that writing code is a mandatory component of my dissertation, and I can only think of some minor changes I would need to make to it:

  • Add some syntax highlighting(maybe)
  • Add the ability to place textboxes anchored to points in the documents (because some things are much easier to type than handwrite)
  • Add a textbox to the global comments window
  • Get rid of the signon dialog (I don’t need the multiple clients feature)
  • Open several files at startup (will be handy when running the study after more than a handful of people)
  • Change the buttons

I have to find out (from my Liverpool dissertation advisor) whether such scholarly uninteresting changes would be acceptable for an outstanding dissertation, or barely good enough. Hopefully the requirement is just to make sure that the graduates are capable of writing code (which I’ll have no trouble demonstrating).

I feel that the meat of the work as planned so far was always the experiment (comparison) and not the code. Will find out soon whether that was wishful thinking.