ODIN: THE AUTHORITATIVE EXERCISE DOCUMENTATION RESOURCE

Operational Environment Data Integration Network (ODIN) is the authoritative digital data resource created for the U.S. Army to plan and manage training exercises. It contains the Worldwide Equipment Guide (WEG), Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE) and accompanying Force Structures, and Training Circular (TC) 100 series. Over 3,000 pages of useful exercise creation documentation was digitized and entered into an intuitive create, search, find, and access tool. ODIN is a multileveled solution that started with standardizing and reformatting complex data, indexing the data properly to allow simple searching, and combining these mechanics with an easy-to-understand filter navigation quickly guiding users to what they need most.

USER-FOCUSED DESIGN

After conducting numerous user interviews and mock-up user flow diagrams, we made deliberate design decisions to organize data by type into user-friendly human-readable formats. Data types included the following:

  • Narrative (i.e., book-like wording) used for content such as the DATE and associated training publications
  • Technical (i.e., card-like visuals) used for equipment such as the WEG
  • Relational (i.e., organizational chart structure) used for FS
  • In addition, our user interface integrates browse-like capabilities to help users find what they need without necessarily knowing exactly what to search.

CHANGING THE PARADIGM

To enable greater reuse and quicker collaborative maintenance, we worked closely with the customer to ensure the data entry process was user friendly and beneficial. Ultimately, we developed an experience that enabled users to create, edit, and update complex data directly in the tool. We established business rules that included permissions, approval processes, and version control to help standardize the data entry process.

RAPID DEVELOPMENT IDEOLOGY

The underlying ODIN concept is an easy-to-use, human-readable resource that appeals to a diverse audience with a wide range of technical knowledge and web-navigation skills, all while enabling machine-interpretability.

Our developers recommended a MediaWiki-based solution, with an intuitive, user-friendly, custom-built interface. We leveraged MediaWiki’s “community-driven data” approach to quickly create data within an expandable framework.

GOOD TECHNICAL PRACTICES

Our developers understood the risks associated with storing, retrieving, and editing large amounts of data in one application. Because our customer also needed to simultaneously create and edit data in the tool, the database had to be structured very carefully to avoid loss of work.

It took great consideration to ensure efficiency. Retrieving and formatting large amounts of machine-interpretable data while also ingesting user input meant a careful balance between the client and server-side data management.

USER TESTING AND REVIEW

We take quality assurance seriously. ODIN was put through extensive user testing, client reviews, and iterations. Our team dynamically shifted between rapid development cycles and on-the-spot hot fixes while also supplying client support.

THE FINAL RESULT

ODIN is not just a website or a database. It is a dynamic resource hub for team members across multiple disciplines, designed to help change the way the U.S. Army creates and uses training exercise information.

ODIN is in active development and deployed to the public in April 2018. Because it is an authoritative source for all the content it provides, we are constantly improving, testing, and evolving the product to maintain best practices and standardizations.