One aspect of capturing design rationale is to provide a human
high level summary of the design information contained in a set of
conceptual design documents. Compilation of such a "design information map"
a location keyed summary of the information in the documents
constitutues the generation of design knowledge. We describe a project
which does mapping of the design information contained in the text graphic
pages of an electronic design notebook used by mechanical engineers.
Managing the complexity of design information in large mechanical
engineering projects is a major problem, particularly the information from
important but often neglected conceptual design phase. There is now
a tool which can supply computer support to the conceputal design phase.
Using the vmacs Electronic Design Notebook (TM) described in the
acompanying paper, each designer can generate up to 1000 pages a year of
conceptual text graphic design documents. Obviously, however, such a
productive tool only compounds the information management problem. The
original creator of the documents, as well as later viewers, need help in
organizing and navigating through this enormous amount of information.
For instance, in the example described below, a single directory in the
Electronic Design Notebook (EDN) dealt with one aspect of the design of the
Tertiary Mirror Assembly for NASA's Space InfraRed Telescope Facility
project. This Directory contained 1.3MB of text
graphic data in 76
individual files; the data was interactively viewable as 145 screenfulls of
information, and occupied 95 paper pages when printed out.
Knowledge is the best way to deal with large amounts of information; a map
of design information is a very useful kind of knowledge. The DESIGN
MAKER system was created to generate such maps with minimal designer