[EpiData-list] EpiData in Vietnam and other languages - when to change a course to new versions ?

epidata-list at lists.umanitoba.ca epidata-list at lists.umanitoba.ca
Fri Jan 21 02:07:39 CST 2011

Dear all

As pointed out by Suzanna Widmer (and others) the consideration of when a
new softwareis sufficiently ready for courses and "real projects".
Experience tell me to say "never use the first release of new or adapted
software" - since regardless of a lot of testing it always turns out that
only in real projects will one find the problems and bugs. Test situations
are always less demanding than real projects. On the other hand I tend to
be optimistic with EpiData software since with my 30 year experience in
teaching data quality and field epidemiology I can find a workaround and
also I can assure that we will fix the bug to next class. Most other
instructors have less experience and cannot directly promise bug fixes.
Another rationale is  that instructors are experienced in the old software,
but not in the new. 

As part of the EpiData-Apheo project which adds financing to the current
rewrite (see http://www.apheo.ca/index.php?pid=47) there will be a teaching
seminar in february in Canada. For this the planning group decided to base
the seminar on the existing software, but also to include a shorter
presentation where I explain and show the new software. This is a relevant
way of tackling the transition. Had the same seminar been held in april or
may I would have suggested to do the other way around. That is to use the
new software and then show the older one, since there might be aspects
which are still not functional. 

Here in the office at the hospital where I work we will start to use the
new versions for smaller projects. But not do so before we have the next
test release ready - which includes correct updating of idnum, autotime and
autodate fields and jumps. 

In seminars and courses the most important is a precise principle and
sound scientifically based concepts - and functional software which
supports the principles without giving participants and instructors
headache's due to malfunction. Many participants in courses cannot separate
problems associated with lack of understanding principles and lack of
practical experience in using the software (or computers). 

Excuses for the long explanation. I hope the considerations can assist in
the decisions on what to do in the transition period. I am very happy to
see that the download counts of test versions implicate wide spread
consideration of "what is coming". 

Jens Lauritsen
EpiData Association

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