PerfectLearn development update December 2014

PerfectLearn is almost done.

I feel both anxious and excited writing those words. I’ve been working on PerfectLearn, on and off, for almost twenty months. And, it’s been even more time if you take into account that PerfectLearn is the culmination of two other projects, and ContextNote that I started developing in 2007 and 2011, respectively.

Bokeh Pens

Bokeh Pens

One of my goals with PerfectLearn was to not repeat the same mistakes that I made in previous projects. Specifically, I didn’t want to make the mistake of developing an application in isolation. In that respect, I have been talking to several people within the fields of personal knowledge management and digital learning environments to try to understand how to help individual learners. I also recorded several screencasts showing how to use PerfectLearn and published them on YouTube. The feedback I got from people who watched the screencasts has proven to be invaluable.

Shipping a product is a feature. A very important feature.

But, let’s get back to the reason of this blog post which is to explain the current state of PerfectLearn’s development. We will also take a brief look at some features that I have postponed adding to the application until after the first version of the application has been published. Shipping a product is a feature. A very important feature. That is why I have removed some functionality requirements from version 1.0 of the application. They will be added. Just not now.

First of all, in terms of actual functionality (for version 1.0) the following items are still outstanding:

  • Generate and display a tag cloud based on the user’s tagged topics
  • Front-end form validation for all of the forms in the application
  • Edit note
  • Edit topic
  • Edit URL
  • Edit video link
  • Edit metadatum
  • Topic index (with pagination)

That’s it! That’s what I mean when I say that “PerfectLearn is almost done.” Nonetheless, a couple of things need to be done between finishing the implementation of the above mentioned functionality and actually getting the application into the hands of users. Specifically, in relation to pre-launch testing it is my intention to do the following:

  • Internal testing: after having published PerfectLearn on the production server, I will put the application through its paces and do as many “stupid” things as possible in the application with the explicit intention of breaking it. Every time I break the application, I will fix the bug and repeat the process.
  • Private beta testing: once I have completed the internal testing I will provide access to everyone who has asked to test the application. I will do this in a way that will make it possible for me to provide timely personal support.

And now for the all-important timeframes. Implementing the above-mentioned functionality will be done by December 15. Straight after that I will deploy the application to the production server and start the internal testing phase. Taking into account that I will be doing this during the Christmas holiday, I expect this phase to take up to two weeks which means that beta-testing should start in the first weeks of January (2015). I’m unsure as to how long the beta-testing phase will take but I’m hoping no more than two to four weeks depending on what issues come to light. So, that means that version 1.0 of PerfectLearn should be launched no later than the beginning of February, 2015.

Finally, let’s take a look at some of the features that I have scrapped from PerfectLearn version 1.0:

  • The most important feature (at this stage) that did not make the cut is full-text search. Search is obviously an important feature but implementing it (with elasticsearch) will add, at the pace I am able to work on PerfectLearn, another two weeks to the development schedule. I’m not willing to do that. So, like I said, search will be added. But not now.
  • The next feature, the ability to generate eBooks (in PDF, EPUB, and Kindle formats) from a set of user-selected topics is something that I’m very interested in doing from the point of view of making PerfectLearn a viable combined research tool and eBook authoring system. This feature is adjacent to PerfectLearn’s primary value proposition (helping you turn your personal knowledge into a valuable asset) and therefore will be added at a later stage and perhaps not even made available to regular users of the application.
  • Dropbox and Google Drive integration. That is, the ability to attach files and images to topics that will automatically be stored in your Dropbox or Google Drive account.
  • Currently, your documented knowledge in PerfectLearn is not publicly accessible (by design). Being able to publish your documented knowledge to a personal learning portfolio (with, for example, LinkedIn integration) is another feature that I would like to add to PerfectLearn in the not too-distant future.
  • Finally, to make it straightforward to get information into PerfectLearn as part of your documented knowledge, I will develop a browser extension that makes it possible to add a webpage (as a topic) quickly and easily to PerfectLearn by just clicking a button.

In summary, the vast majority of PerfectLearn’s feature set has already been implemented. Initial production testing should start in approximately ten to fourteen days time. After that, there will be a beta testing phase that should take no more than two to four weeks which brings us to early February of 2015 to release the first version of PerfectLearn.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has helped me along the way. In many ways I couldn’t have done this alone. Thank you.

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One thought on “PerfectLearn development update December 2014

  1. I can’t wait to see this ambitious project in action and to get my hands on it. It’s one of the most interesting and promising tools I see on the horizon for personal knowledge-management, note-taking, … and many other things.
    Cheers, Brett!


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