Rep Plus Development Progress
Our target is to issue Rep Plus as a stand-alone program by the end of 2017. It is currently available as a WebGrid server.
Our first priority with Rep Plus was to make it available as a web server with upload capabilities as soon as possible. That was achieved in October 2015 with the mounting of the University of Victoria WebGrid server which has now been running successfully for 20 months, and is now joined by the second server at EILAB. We hope to see more WebGrid servers become available at other sites world-wide.
Our second priority was to develop Rep Plus as a replacement for Rep 5 which is no longer available. Rep 5 was a snapshot of our tools made available to the Centre for Person-Computer Studies in 2004 and targeted on providing a well-maintained suite of grid tools for the PCP community.
The tools themselves had already been greatly extended through their use in knowledge acquisition, expert system development and knowledge management applications, but these were only documented in publications and were not issued in 2007. Rep Plus incorporates a number of these extensions together with additional tools we have written in recent years to support the needs of colleagues developing innovative research paradigms.
This necessitated writing a new set of manuals for Rep Plus users which is a major task, in many ways more demanding then developing the software itself. We focused first on the WebGrid Plus server manual in order to support colleagues, and their IT services, in mounting and managing a safe and reliable server.
We then commenced writing the other manuals for each of the Rep Plus components, some 7 manuals in all, typically some 100 pages in length. As usual, writing an explanatory manual for software suggests changes to the software itself to make it more explicable, simpler to use, mutually consistent, and so on. So the process of manual writing is also one of refining the software.
Progress has been substantial and we are targeting a release of Rep Plus as a freely available set of grid tools by the end of 2017. We have aimed to preserve the simplicity of Rep 5 as a set of PCP tools whilst extending it with a new generation of conceptual modelling tools that include many techniques arising from artificial intelligence and knowledge management research.