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Showing posts from January, 2018

The glass box design philosophy

There is an interesting paradox in context of developing data analysis software. On one side, there are clear benefits of designing tools that are easy to use, robust and require as little manual intervention or user expertise as possible. Such design philosophy allows more users to take advantage of the tools and apply them automatically to large heterogeneous datasets. On the other side, blindly applying tools that are not fully understood or do not provide useful information on whether the input data meets their assumptions can raise serious concerns. Developers take not only great pride in the quality of their software but also feel responsible for how the software is being used. Unexperienced users can misuse a “black box” tool and obtain misleading results. Whether we like it or not, such situations can lead to bad reputation misattributed to the tool itself.



Ease of use seems to be at odds with avoiding misuse. Extending your user base to less experienced users can lead to mist…