Aside from that, I do think Discover has lots of potential, but right now it feels like a beta product, I'm frankly amazed some of the flaws made it through to a public release, most notably for me the fact that all filters are added with the "and" operator, with no option to change to "or"; want to show male and female breakdown on a graph? No chance unless they are male AND female students...
EDIT: and just to pre-empt the "well it is free" comment I'm expecting, I appreciate the fact that Capita have provided us with a new free tool for SIMS, but most end users will just see a poorly functioning bit of software and add it to the "SIMS sucks" list of excuses not to use it
Quite, nay ... totally unfair!!
I imagine actually calculating the data for the pie chart really eats into a modest modern processors performance of around 10,000,000,000 instructions per second. All those ... err ... um ... well probably attendance records or something. They could soon build up into tens, or even hundreds of thousands or records. Being able to process a few hundred thousand numbers is going to tie that processor up for ... ooooh (fx attempts to calculate 10^5/10^10) ... ages. And after that, actually displaying it ... well, phew. I think I need a little lie down!
Note a key thing here - SIMS.Net is written using the .NET framework, and I'm assuming Discover is too. Your games were written using native languages such as c++. The prior takes a massive amount less effort to develop tools like this, the latter would require a much larger development team to develop the same thing - increasing costs, and therefore, I assume, increasing the price for schools.
.NET is very memory intensive, regardless of the software you use. A small application I have here opens a web page on launch, and runs a report in a reportviewer control, and displays a few other buttons/dropdowns etc... And it uses 33Mb of RAM. The same thing, if I wrote it in c++ could come in at 1Mb at most. I chose the .NET route because I can adjust my software so easily and quickly, and leverage advanced controls and features in minutes rather than days.
Its always a trade-off between requirements and development time.
Of course I'm only speculating as it's not going to change any time soon!
EDIT: by own system what I really meant was not to rely on the bloated framework that is .NET - I personally don't think any professional and critical piece of software should be based on .NET though, not when it eats up as much memory as it does, not too mention how easy .NET is to de-compile...
Last edited by LosOjos; 23rd June 2011 at 04:38 PM.
@pcstru & @LosOjos
Both fair comments, I didn't mean to say what it was doing calculating the Pie charts was a massively intensive task, I simply meant to say that it wasn't just displaying the things.
@localzuk - Kudos for top knowledge, I went to add rep but it wouldn't allow it, must have repped you at some point recently for something else
Not developing business systems in managed code now would be silly.
The problem with using .NET is that it is very memory hungry, it is very inefficient (from a code POV, not a time POV) and it is dependent on a Windows environment... OK they aren't major problems right now, but the path for a competitor to take the market is being left wide open... but maybe that's a topic for the blue skies forum...
@localzuk, while there is a performance difference between .NET and C++, we are talking about environments where data from a typical schools database could fit into the memory of an average PC several times over (assuming a modicum of storage efficiency) and where modest processors can perform 10,000,000,000 instructions every second (a core i7 extreme can do nearly 160 billion IPS). The difference between .net and c++ can't really account for the poor performance. And yes, I too would probably choose to code SIMS in .NET not C++, for exactly the reasons you state. But if a developer told me that I then needed a Core i3 with a multicore GPU to draw a pie chart and that was down to coding in .NET, well ... I'd ask them to go away and have a wee think about that.
My bet would be that the performance is constrained by the database, probably a result of poorly designed schema but probably mostly poorly optimised SQL and poorly thought out transactions between the client and the database. Requiring a multi GPU graphics card that is capable, like the main processor of dealing with billions of (geometric) operations per second, to draw .... a pie chart (!) is nonsense. It is a strategy of throwing hardware at a problem when you are unable (for whatever reason) to address the actual, underlying problem.
I suppose being on EduGeek you're interested in the technology. I'm interested in what something can do and I've seen enough revelations in schools to know that this is a very powerful tool.
The development team's brief was not to make it run on a hairdryer; it was to produce a very powerful tool that was really easy to use. You do need to understand assessment result sets to get valuable information out however or you will be reduced to finding out how many Italians eat sandwiches!
As it happens in will run on fairly ordinary kit but integrated graphics are of variable quality.
superfletch (24th June 2011)
[all of course my own opinion!]
I don't think its abilities are being questioned - the input from our SIMS admins has been excellent so far and they've been chomping at the bit to get it. I think in a very vague nutshell, the question is this.
The same results could be achieved without anywhere near the amount of resources used. It is programmatically (woo is that even a word?) separate from SIMS so there's no need to rely on similar technology (after all, who'd enjoy an addon to FMS that's written in the same language? ) So, as pretty as it looks, why this rather than alternatives? Why not c++ if you want to compare to games directly, referring to an earlier post. Really pushing it a bit, but why not something along the lines of an Excel driven macro-fest? (ala Target Tracker).
Why not even Flas.... oh yeah, iGroans
PhilNeal (23rd June 2011)
That's a great reply - thanks synaesthesia!
.net is pretty fast - we do have some "technical legacy" to deal with which will speed up things again in the autumn release but it isn't bad today and certainly a lot faster than it was when it was on beta.
synaesthesia (23rd June 2011)
Having some experience of software development (20+ years), from lone coder to managing reasonably sized multi project development programmes, I'm not aware of ease of use ever having being a bar to system efficiency. More the reverse seems true, good design is sometimes negated by sloppy implementation making the user experience 'clunky' or leading to failure because the user experience is : "it's so advanced it doesn't even work yet!". On the other hand, first releases of products are often compromises and performance problems can be addressed in future versions; providing of course people recognise there is a problem and are able to correctly identify what the actual problem is - rather than (say) just expecting customers to throw more hardware at it.
Variable quality - enough to struggle to draw a pie chart?!As it happens in will run on fairly ordinary kit but integrated graphics are of variable quality.
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