Artivity to be available for Windows and Mac OS X

The Artivity Project aims to produce an open desktop logging framework for arts practice. It allows for capturing detailed data about the creation process of digital artwork and its context. This data can be used to study the techniques, workflow and sources of inspiration in the creation process of digital media. The project is executed in cooperation with the University of the Arts, London and is funded by JISC. We are currently nearing the end of the second funding phase in which we delivered all expected results and even more.

A highly successful second development period

After the initial three month prototyping phase which started in April this year, we managed to proceed into a second JISC-funded development sprint which started in mid-July and lasted four months until mid-November. The primary goals of the second funding round were:

  • Produce a plugin for a bitmap based image editing program (Krita)
  • Enable exporting the captured data for further analysis in 3rd party statistics software
  • Conduct user tests and produce test datasets

As part of a long-term sustainability strategy and to make the software available to a broad user audience, we decided to move away from the Zeitgeist event logging framework as the platform for the software. While it was a reasonable choice for developing the proof-of-concept prototype of the software in the extremely short time frame of three months, Zeitgeist effectively limited the software to run on Linux desktops only. This is why we decided to implement the data model based on the W3C PROV ontology for document provenance and the Semiodesk Trinity Linked Data platform for C#.

All of the primary goals for the current project sprint have been met. Solely the user testing phase started two weeks later as planned, due to the additional porting effort to the .NET/Mono platform. However, considering the extremely short time frame of 10 weeks from specification to release, this is a tolerable delay for a project with this complexity.

New features at a glance

The focus of development in this sprint has been on porting and extending the Artivity logging platform. As with the platform itself, the new Artivity Explorer is now cross platform and runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Besides all the platform work, we have also taken some time to add some visible new features to the user interface of our main application:

The new Artivity Explorer dashboard.

Dashboard

Artivity is all about a users artistic activities. This is why we added a new dashboard which displays a user’s recently used files along with editing statistics. The journal enables a user to quickly access the details of a file such as the editing history.

The improved Artivity Explorer document history view.

Document History

The improved document history shows all editing steps and related program activity, such as browsing events. It will highlight the area of a change in the document thumbnail. This allows for visually backtracking the whole editing process of the document.

The improved preferences dialog in Artivity Explorer.

Preferences

The new preferences dialog allows a user to edit his profile such as setting an avatar image and the contact details. Under the new ‘applications’ tab one can choose to enable or disable logging for an application and to set the preferred colour for plotting the activity charts.

The new database settings page in the preferences dialog.

Database Monitoring

The improved preferences dialog also contains a tab for monitoring the Artivity database. This is especially useful for collecting data from user tests. The facts and disk space charts give a clear indication at which speed the database will grow under normal usage scenarios.

Artivity Explorer showing the editing history of a Krita file.

Krita Plugin

We have chosen Krita to be the first bitmap-based image editor to be supported by Artivity. Unlinke Inkscape, the data logging in Krita is implemented as a true plugin which can dynamically be loaded at runtime.

The data export dialog showing the available export formats.

Export formats

In this release we have significantly improved the data export in Artivity Explorer. One can now choose between exporting the data in the Artivity native RDF format or to write portions of the data into CSV format for usage in statistics and spreadsheet applications.

Upcoming: Artivity goes Creative Suite

All major components the Artivity framework now seamlessly run on all major desktop platforms. This is extremely important for the sustainability and future development of the whole project. In the future, the core platform and user interface components will be developed and supported for all desktop platforms – including Linux. However, as a next step we will focus on providing support for the mainstream products in professional digital media production: namely the Adobe Creative Suite on Mac OS X and Windows. An initial implementation for Adobe Photoshop is already in progress.

We’re currently applying for another funding round at JISC. For the next phase, our primary goal will be to release Artivity to a broad user audience. There’s still a lot of work ahead of us – but we think we’re well prepared. Stay tuned.