Rapid Prototyping of Computer Simulations
History Inspiration and why Kickstarter
This project was originally my Masters project in college. It was inspired by the complex Simulation systems of PowerWorld, and the code editor in MacroMedia Flash 8. PowerWorld both allowed the User to create a Simulation using existing items for computer networking and electric power, respectively. While they both provided many elements, the User could also create new elements, such as a new network router, or new material of power line. Flash allowed the User to create a drawing, and add code wherever they wanted. Then, if wanting to reuse it, the drawing/code could be promoted it into a library item that could be reused. Instances of the library item could then have new settings applied to them, such as color shifts, or extra code.
I came to understand the inner workings of several computer models while in college. I often had to build the models using MacroMedia Flash, so that we could distribute them as educational materials. I often built, and rebuilt, modeling and simulation frameworks to run these models. During a class in Control Theory, I got to see first-hand how software like Matlab handles Discreet Event Simulation, and learned how to perform my own Normalizations so that data of different scales could play together. These experiences led me to the original Falcetto concept.
For my Masters project, I built Falcetto in Matlab. I chose Matlab because it allowed the User to use any mathematical formula or function that Matlab could provide, and it was widely available at my college. The downsides to using Matlab were that few people have access to Matlab, and distribution was unwieldy since the marketplace was difficult/expensive to gain entry to.
Since the original Falcetto, I have gained experience that has led to design improvements for the new Falcetto. I have experienced the OPNET modeling software for discreet event simulation, which is a powerful and feature rich simulation framework, but with a steep learning curve. My years of building and maintaining web applications has helped me develop a strong sense for how to blend strong JS applications with reliable server side functionality. I have utilized JS frameworks to build strong JS applications, such as jQuery and Sencha ExtJS, and worked using several different server side paradigms.
When I learned of Kickstarter, I surveyed my list of ideas and felt that remaking Falcetto was the best candidate for Kickstarter support. I will be building something that I have effectively built before, thus I have no doubts it can be accomplished. I feel that Kickstarter backing is best used on products that will be free or low cost to the end user, which Falcetto is. There are more projects that I want to bring to Kickstarter, but I feel Falcetto is the project with the shortest timeline, widest audience, and lowest probability of experiencing timeline delays.
Timeline and Development Team
The project timeline is to have the JS/HTML application functional by the middle of May 2014, and all features complete by the middle of August 2014. This will allow Beta testers to start testing after the 2014 Spring semester is over, and to have all features ready for use by the 2014 Fall semester.
To be able to meet this timeline, I will naturally need to devote time to the project. My time is typically split between projects for paying clients, and projects that have yet to pay off. In order to meet the timeline I will need to utilize some of the time usually devoted to paying clients, thus the need for Kickstarter support.
The original Falcetto took about two months of part time work for initial development, and some tweaking afterwards. This new version of Falcetto will have new features, but can still meet the timeline. I will be developing it using technologies I am more comfortable with, and with techniques I have acquired over the last several years. With a total timeline of five months, I feel the timeline is realistic.
Absolute worst case scenario is that Falcetto takes longer to develop, but will still be done several semesters sooner than if pursued without Kickstarter support. I plan on building it myself, but if problems do present themselves, then I may choose to expand my development team in order to meet the timeline.
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