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Success Stories ‘07: Basket

Published on September 30th, 2007 by Ellen Reitmayr


BasKet Note Pads is a multi-purpose note-taking application for the K Desktop Environment (KDE). The goal of the student project was to do a complete usability-development cycle with direct impact on the further development of BasKet Note Pads.

Frank Ploss, the student intern, decided to make this project his diploma thesis and worked on it intensively for about six months. He documented his progress in a wiki and invited users and developers to comment and participate in his work.

As a result of the thesis, Frank developed personas (prototypical users), stated the relevant scenarios of use, evaluated features, created prototypes and tested them.

Example persona for Basket

Sebastien Laout, Lead Developer and Technical Mentor:

“This project produced welcome results like a new interface/vision for the project.
Frank was very involved, especially on the mailing list, where myself, developers
and users had occasion to have a word. And he also brought a “usability spirit” to
the new formed team of developers.”


Project: Basket. Basket is a multi-purpose note-taking application that helps the user to easily take all sort of notes, centralise project data and reuse it, organise thoughts in idea boxes, make intelligent To Do lists and a lot more.

Basket Note Pads

Student Intern: Frank Ploss, Germany.
Frank Ploss is a student of computer science. He used the Basket student project as a case study in his master thesis about scenario-based usability engineering in FLOSS projects.

Usability Mentor: Björn Balazs, Germany.
Björn Balazs has worked on many FLOSS-Projects and runs his own Berlin based Usability-Consulting business Apliki.

Technical Mentor: Sebastien Laout, France.
Sebastien Laout, the main developer of BasKet Note Pads, is a student in a French IT school.

Project Work

The student project served as a case study to test an approach to integrate scenario-based usability engineering with FLOSS development.

In the centre of the approach there were stories about fictional users and about how they utilise Basket in their day-to-day routine. These stories help to understand what the users are like, how they use BasKet and what problems they have with it.

The process was planned as a cyclic progress, from analysis of the current situation along the design of future scenarios to prototyping and testing.

Analysis step. In this step, the current situation was analyzed with an online survey. Personas (stories about typical users) and scenarios (stories about current use) were used to document this in an understandable way to everyone involved - users and developers.

Design step. Different types of scenarios were used to put down stories about improved use of BasKet and about ideas for new feature ideas.

Evaluation step. Ideas and improvements were evaluated using paper prototypes, observations were evaluated and used for refinement of the prototypes.

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