The main resource that I need to complete this project, in short supply, is the time to develop the idea; both the quality of the content and the acquiring of technical skills.

I have experience with the database software Filemaker Pro, but a site licence for this would be prohibitively expensive, so I can not work directly with groups of students using the stand alone application. Databases created in Filemaker can be shared on the web; my christmas card experiment is proof of this, but as a solution this is ungainly and impractical and only allows for five consecutive connections unless running the (expensive) server solution. I attempted to install and run a 30 day trial of Filemaker Server, but without success due to technical difficulties. To overcome these difficulties I have bought both server space and software extensions so that I can work with a Filemaker database though a website created in Dreamweaver.

While this will solve the technical requirements of text, it may not help with the creation of illustrations. I looked into the possibility of a software extension to Filemaker called Supercontainer, that will give Filemaker container fields drag and drop capabilities, but I am not sure that this would then work with Filemaker fields embedded in a website. There is another Filemaker plugin called GrabMac, but again it may not work with Filemaker on the web. Both of these extensions are prohibitively expensive. The solution here might be to ‘nest’ a combination of web technologies within a host website.

In terms of ‘interactive’ illustrations I have been looking at both quicktime VR and Flash. In particular I have been experimenting with the new ‘bones’ feature in CS4. It is possible that the whole solution would be better created in Adobe Flash or Air, or with MySql and PHP technologies, but not within the given time limits, with my meagre programming abilities. I have looked at the possibility of marrying a web served Filemaker database to a stand alone interface created with Runtime Revolution. This might well be the best solution. I am keen on this idea, especially as Runtime Revolution evolved from the Bill Atkinsons’s original Hypercard programme. Java script might be another possibility. But again the constraints of time and the need to learn these programming skills would make this a much longer term project unless I could enlist technical help.

So my plan is to create two prototypes, one with Filemaker running ‘Instant Web Publishing”, and one running a Filemaker database through a Dreamweaver website (with the Dreamweaver extension ‘FMgateway’, that would also give me the possibility of developing the solution for iPhone).

To create an interface that might amuse and engage my students, I have experimented with lipsync and speaking avatars. Ideally I would like an avatar powered by text from the database, and while I know this is possible, it is technically beyond me at present. Initially I worked with a software package called Crazy Talk, using this for a project with a year 7 group. I then found another online solution, called Oddcast, which is a quicker, simpler (but more expensive) solution.

To create some illusion of a story book, I have been looking at a page turning extension for Flash that will create the illusion of a book, with the possibility of embedding Flash movies and hyperlinks within the pages. This would work well, but for the fact that the swf files within this virtual book will run, but not interactively.

The final resource will be the students themselves, testing the solutions that I create.