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Fine Tuning the Development Process: An Electronic Notebook

  • October 3, 2007
  • By Matt Weisfeld
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As Simple and Elegant as Necessary

The beauty of this idea is that the user can implement the Electronic Engineering Notebook at a variety of levels—either quite simply or in a very comprehensive manner.

For example, suppose that a student is taking a programming class, although this technique is applicable to all disciplines. Suppose that in this class the work consists of the following categories:

  • Assignments
  • Notes
  • Worksheets
  • Vocabulary Lists
  • Résumé

To implement an Electronic Engineering Notebook, the simplest thing to do is to create a directory called notebook as seen in Figure 3.



Click here for a larger image.

Figure 3: Engineering Notebook Directory.

Whereas this is obviously a simple task to complete, the power of storing everything in an electronic medium has many advantages. And, while this example illustrates an academic scenario, the fundamental concepts are applicable to a business process as well as personal activities—the first time I used this technique was to help administer a fantasy football league.

Centralized Storage

One of the problems with the physical notebooks is the fact that eventually each notebook will be filled. This means that multiple notebooks must be used. It is inevitable that at some point you will not have access to one or more of these notebooks. Even if you do have physical access to all the notebooks, it may be next to impossible to locate the one you actually need at a specific time. By migrating the physical notebooks to an electronic format, you will never have the problem of not knowing which notebook you need to reference.

As an added advantage, you can apply this across multiple disciplines. For example, as a student, you can combine all of your classes in a single place as seen in Figure 4. As a professional, you could have separate directories for each customer.



Click here for a larger image.

Figure 4: Engineering Notebook Directory—multiple classes.

To expand upon the work example, you can take all of your material to a customer site as a single entity (in other words: CD or memory stick). Rather than carry multiple physical notebooks or electronic media, you need only carry a single storage device—with backups available, of course.

A major advantage to this practice is that you can conveniently accumulate your material over several years as seen in Figure 5.



Click here for a larger image.

Figure 5: Engineering Notebook Directory—Several Years.

There are many benefits that come with the centralization of your notes in a electronic format; I discuss several of them in the next section.





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