[Evaluation Guidelines]
Evaluation

All quotation programs have three elements:

1.) CONTENT - the Quotes, Sayings and Ideas Themselves

2.) FORM - How the Content is Organized and Presented

3.) FEATURES - What the User can do with the Contents

1.) CONTENT - the Quotes, Sayings and Ideas Themselves

Content, the quotes, sayings and ideas that come with the program, is the most important of the three elements. There are millions of quotations. Quantity is not synonymous with quality. The best book doesn't always have the most pages. Few movie critics think the longest film is the best.

Here are three quotes, along with comments and an observation, that can be useful in evaluating a program's content:

    That writer does the most, who gives his reader the most    
    knowledge, and takes from him the least time.               
                                               Colton (1780-1832)

What's the program's batting average? Its ratio of hits to misses; quotes you like to quotes you don't like.

    Whatever we well understand we express clearly,             
    and words flow with ease.                                   
                                     Nicholas Boileau (1636-1711)

If you don't understand a quote, the author probably didn't express himself clearly. It's the editor's job to screen out blurry or mundane quotes.

     If you be pungent, be brief; for it is with words as with   
     sunbeams - the more they are condensed the deeper they burn.
                                       Robert Southey (1774-1843)

With few exceptions, essays or short stories belong in a book.

Reviewers will find that there is a surprisingly small overlap of quotations in different programs. Rarely will 25% of the quotes be the same.

2.) FORM - How the Content is Organized and Presented

Form is how the content is organized and presented. Some of the organizational techniques that make it easy for the user to find the right quote are the hard for the developer to implement.

The questions and answers below will tell you what to look for and why.

Q: Are the Subjects divided into Sections?
A: Sections give the user more benefit than any other organizational technique. Here's why. Quotations make every one more authoritative. They add another voice. But to be really effective, the quotation has to reinforce the user's point of view. When subjects are consistently divided into sections, such as Positive, Negative, Advice, etc., it enables the user to read 80% fewer quotes and yet still find the best quote for his purpose.

Q: How many Subjects are there?
A: It's easy for the developer to have many hundreds or even thousands or subjects. That takes no thought at all. It's easier for the user, however, to have all related minor subjects grouped together into a major subject. That way he can find what he's looking for in one place. For example, the major subject of CHARACTER might include minor subjects such as Dignity, Ethics, Honor, Integrity and Reputation.

Q: Are the quotes properly formatted?
A: It's easy for the developer not to worry about formatting quotes. Good formatting takes craftsmanship and time because each quote has to be read and understood. However, it's much easier for the user to read well formatted quotes. Look for line breaks at the proper places in prose; poetry lines that rhyme; and the author's name and book title flush right.

Q: Can the appearance of the quote be customized?
A: Some programs enable the user to display each quote on a full screen with variable fonts, font sizes and font colors. The user should have the option to make their favorite combination the default.

Q: Does the program provide author and source information.
A: Some programs display the author's biographical snapshot at the bottom of the screen along with a citation that list the original source.

Q: Does the organization make it seem like a dialogue takes place between different authors?
A: It's rarely done. The editor has to piece together a giant jigsaw puzzle. But it can be done and it does make the program more enjoyable for the user.

3.) FEATURES - What the User can do with the Contents

Features enable the user to manipulate and interact with the program's content. A sophisticated program will have many of the following:

Filters - Filters are electronic gatekeepers. They make a program interactive. The user can turn them on to customize program output. For example, if the user turns the Short filter on, he'll only see Short quotes.

Open Database System - An Open System allows the user to Add, Edit and Delete their own quotes or records.

Quote-A-Day - Enables the user to start every Windows session with a randomly selected quote or pop up a quote at any time.

Multiple Indexes - Indexes allow the user to access records in different sequences. Old fashion programs only index quotes by Subject and Author.

Variable Browser - A browser allows the user to examine the first line of 20 quotes at one time in a tabular format. Look for multiple browser formats that take advantage of different index sequences.

Iconic Subject Menus - Subject Icon Menus allows major subjects to be selected by clicking on a visually descriptive icon.

Toolbars allow the user to bypass the menu and select common functions with the click of a mouse.

Word Search lets the user find quotes/records containing a target word or phrase. Advanced features include "Case Sensitivity," "Whole Word Option," "Boolean Logic," the ability to search in Browser or Full Screen mode using different indexes, and a Repeat Search icon.

Subtitles - Some quotes could be classified in two subjects. A Subtitle index cross-references quotes by their secondary subject. This enables users to find out more about one subject or find quotes with a combination of two subjects, i.e., Wisdom and Folly.

On-line Help should be context sensitive and utilize Windows' Hypertext Help engine.

Author Biographical Snapshots provide information about an author while the user is reading their quote.

Subject List Box - A dialog that lists the available subjects in alphabetical order and allows the user to point and select.

Subject Finder List Box - An alphabetical list of minor subjects, subtitles and their corresponding major subject. The user can select a subject with their mouse.

Index Key Search allows the user to find quotes by any of the available indexes.

Quick Start Menu enable the user to jump to their favorite mode of operation by clicking on an icon.

Clipboard pastes the quote on the screen into the Windows clipboard.

Print Option sends the quote on the screen to the printer.

Disk Write - Writes the quote on the screen into a disk file. This feature is important because, unlike the clipboard, it allows the user to capture multiple quotes from a single session.

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