A Brief Project History

I first began thinking about the concepts behind this project during my years as a commercial fisherman (1988-1993). One has plenty of time to think in the long wheel watches in the hours before dawn while everyone else is asleep. :)

In my last semester of school at Virginia Tech in 1995, I was in a software engineering class taught by Dr. Sallie Henry and the project I designed was a precursor to the current system. Some of the code from that project still exists in the current code-base, though most was not used in the current system.

Upon graduating, I applied for a Saltonstall-Kennedy grant to implement a test pilot of the project. The grant was not funded, though I got lots of positive feedback on the idea. If you want more information about the system and some of the ideas around it, look at the Project Narrative from that grant proposal. Please keep in mind that some of the technology references are seven years old now so are quite dated.

Anyhoo, I went off and got jobs and moved back to Maine and did other things, but was still convinced the basic idea of using fishing vessels to collect fisheries data was a very powerful one. A few years back I contacted Chris Fury, who was in on the project with me and asked him to send me the source code from the work we did back in school. Having become a crusty old C++ salt and design pattern wonk, I cringed at most of it and started out from scratch, though I did pinch a bit of code here and there.

The system, which I renamed Contour, has become an on-and-off obsession since then. I have found it very soothing to build a system in the true spirit of free software: building a design and implementation just for the pleasure of it. Without the pressures associated with commercial software development, one is free to build software that is flexible and extensible and, well, as good as you want it to be.

I made the decision to release the software under the GPL long ago and just haven't felt it fair to inflict it upon the world until recently. The code is pretty clean, though there is the odd wart here and there. The system itself is not particularly stable, you can crash it without working up too much of a sweat, but the time felt right. The application framework is in place -- and I need help and feedback from people! My hope is that the system might be useful in rebuilding the traditional fisheries of the NorthEast that gave me so much in my younger, wilder days.

Dominic Tracey
June 13, 2001

© 2001 Aquilon Technology Systems, Inc.

Last updated: June 14 2001 02:43:07.
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