Digital Notebook System Proposal

Over the past few weeks, I have written up a proposal which I intend to submit, regarding how one would create and submit a digital notebook. You can find it here . I want to have it as a working draft for a while, in order to get input from the community. So, if you have questions, comments, anything at all, feel free to contribute (right now edits are approve only, sorry!)

There are a few area of interest I would like to point out where I could use help. Most notably Auxiliary File tips, and Digital Conveyence Methods, but feel free to make changes wherever you think it is needed.

Any help is quite welcome!

I am currently suggesting, and I have to say, that is a work of art! I do have some suggestions:
Do you think that maybe you should have it be in MLA format? (Double Spaced, 12 Pt. Times New Roman)

I think it’s missing the simplicity of a written notebook. The digital notebook should be as easy to work on as a hand-written one, if you want the idea to be successful. Otherwise, new teams, or teams with less members, would have trouble learning or finding the motivation to create new pages.

I tried best to find grammar, punctuation, and other issues with your document. I am not a professional, so I may be wrong on some things.

@Alex241N The intent of this proposal is to construct a standard, not to force teams to do anything. My hope is that this standard gets adopted by the community when they are creating their notebooks, not that I can require all teams to use digital notebooks, or even require teams making digital notebooks to use any set standard.

@1815 Delta II Jeez, dude, you made 51 proposals / comments to the document. Basically every single section of the document you improved upon. Good Job!

Yes, I realize that. The only point was that you set a rigid standard- I’d add in some flex so that you have a greater freedom with each notebook entry. I’d also look at what method(s) might be most effective at showcasing your notebook to the judges- both from ease of access and navigation as well as even gaining access in the first place.
All in all, it’s a very sound standard, and you’ve developed it well. I’d just consider what I said, as it might impact how teams approach or accept the standard, or even what effects it might have during the adoption phase. (Ie. How much of a change to teams need to make to be successful, and what have you set in place).

In terms of ease of use, it depends on how the team is utilizing the standard. For us, as our team recently just acquired a Surface Device, the ease of use factor would go way up. As we’ve seen, using OneNote, Drawboard PDF, other similar apps to create a notebook isn’t really complex at all, and it can greatly increase our efficiency. But obviously that can go either way. A team without such resources, perhaps not even a laptop, may find it very difficult to maintain a digital notebook compared to a physical one. But that’s why it should be all up to the team.

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Might I suggest that if you are considering what the judges are looking for that you use the Design Award rubric? It seems you are all getting mired in implementation details rather than determining how your system will enable judges to quickly assess each area of the rubric.

Design Award Rubric

From an EP perspective it still appears overly complex - dependencies on different platforms and document formats. Moreover, for teams, you will need to determine what each venue will accept. From a judge’s perspective, you still need to have an accepted time-stamping methodology to show that the notebook was consistently maintained throughout the season.

The best thing you can do with an online or typed notebook is still print it out. It gets rid of almost all complications, and allows the judges to access it as they would any other notebook.

Just give the judges your Ipad or computer. I’m sure that you will get it back…

I think that’s a really bad idea. That opens up 7 more cans of worms. “Wait, it needs a password” “Which app is it in” “It won’t load”
When creating this system, I think number one priority must be having the process be as simple or simpler than just grading paper. I think to really make this work, we need to limit the teams ability to use different formats and just have them convert to PDF, which the most programs support. If they can’t do that, oh well, a physical notebook would be better for them then.
Also, just read over the proposal a bit more, the idea of entries seems highly overcomplicated. Judges should be able to just scroll through a singe file just like they can flip through a real notebook. Opening up separate files adds unneeded complexity and can waste a lot of time.
Same thing with the auxiliary files. Teams need to contain everything they want to include, like images, in their original PDF.
Adding CAD files a complete impossibility. Keep in mind that the computers the judges are likely to be using are usually handed out by a school district, and those tend to not be the fastest around. Trying to open CAD files may not only require additional software, but waste a lot more time.

These are just my suggestions to change in the proposal.

@phantom285A Sarcasm doesn’t show, does it? Not even in bold, does it?

Yeah lol. I guess I didn’t get it because I didn’t realize that actually loosing the device would be a big problem.

Sure, but what about the teams that don’t think it through?

Maybe VEX should include instructions if you were to turn in an item from your computer. Like, it must not have any password to login for the judges, make the notebook be seen without any extra steps for the judges, etc… Oh wait, MayorMonty’s proposal included those steps…
If teams don’t follow those steps for a digital notebook, it’s just as bad as not following steps for a non-digital notebook.

So I disagree with you quite a bit here.
The power of an electronic notebook is how much better it can be organized and how many new features you can add. A real professional document would have an appendix with a lot images taken out of the text.

While trying to send people full assembly files of a robot might be infeasible in some cases being able to show a 3D model in 3D is incredibly valuable. I know many teams that have rendered a full video circling around the robot to give different perspectives. This shows something that you just can’t get from still images printed out.

No one does anything in handwritten notebooks anymore. It’s outdated

What about teams that forget their notebook at school?

An electronic notebook can’t be lost, misplaced or damaged.

Those instructions are common sense. That goes under the common sense clause in the rulebook, so if you don’t do those things, they technically are breaking the rules

Fair argument.

See, it’s much harder to not follow the steps for a physical notebook than it is for a digital. Lots of teams don’t even read the guidlines for the engineering notebook but it’s not like the judges can’t at least see what you did.