The high response rate to the survey demonstrates a strong interest in
and commitment to VMD, among those downloading the software. The survey
reveals that while our users are satisfied with the software, they are
concerned primarily with functionality and ease of use. Ratings of
desirable features reaffirm our development directions and provide
insight into future needs. Focussing in the past 10 months on porting VMD
to Windows and anticipating friendliness and affordability as the main
challenges for the next 12 months appear to correspond to our users'
The quality assurance of our of software requires active
contributions from our users. The participation of and frequent feedback
received from Resource members and other users have been an invaluable
correction mechanism in the development process of VMD. We are convinced
that to remain effective, all future development and dissemination
efforts will have to rely on the broad input from the user community at
large. Recent changes made to the VMD registration form and on the VMD
web page enact this philosophy by urging our users to express their
suggestions and ideas in a clear and loud voice. We would like to be able
to consider our users as partial VMD developers and intend to treat them
as such. By delivering speedy and powerful responses to users' concerns,
comments and perceptions we hope to better support our user base, to
further improve our software tools, and to inspire a long term
relationship with VMD users.
Last but not least, we strive to make VMD a prime example of
the term `Calm Computing' coined by the late Mark Weiser who, for the
past 10 years, was the Chief technologist at Xerox's Palo Alto Research
Center. Dr. Weiser perceived future computing as so simple that
technology would recede into the background and stop interfering with our
lives. This notion is applicable to scientific computing as well, and is
a basic tenet guiding our development process and shaping our products,
however complex they may be. It is our long-lasting mission to establish
VMD as a sophisticated yet common graphics technology for specialists
and non-specialists alike, designed to be easily used and manipulated on
affordable desktop computers.
Many thanks to David Budescu for his help with the statistical analysis and interpretation of the results.
The comments and suggestions contributed by our users made this a better report, and we are grateful for their input.