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Background and Context

Page history last edited by Jared 7 years, 3 months ago



This is an "optional" section; it is up to the writers to decide whether or not it is necessary.


This section provides more specific "background" research on some aspect of the problem being examined; it is particularly useful if you need to explain an item related to the problem with which the reader may be unfamiliar, of if you found valuable "background" research that establishes some crucial context for your recommendations, or valuable data for your readers.  


For example, if your group is working on integrating a particular software system, a background section defining/explicating that software would be very useful and save you time later in the report. Overall, if your solutions involve a technique or a technology that might be new to your audience, then you might want to include a background section. 



Example 1




Autocad is the product name of a software package that is widely used in the professions of Architecture, Engineering and Landscape Architecture. As computers have evolved, they have become powerful design tools. The term CAD is an acronym for computer-aided design, or computer-assisted drafting. Simply put, the computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse replace the conventional drafting table, pencil, and other conventional drafting tools. Early versions of CAD programs were limited to two-dimensional drafting and were useful for speeding up the tedium of hand drafting in professional offices but not very useful in the design process (Baker, 20). As computers have become more integral to the design process, software companies have developed more powerful versions of CAD software, such as Microstation and Autocad 2002. The newer versions allow for complex modeling in three-dimensions as well as the traditional two-dimensional functions necessary for construction diagrams, detailed specifications and measured plan. The three-dimensional functions are very useful in the design process. Not only do they allow the designer to view his or her own designs in three dimensions but current modeling programs allow clients to ‘walk through’ or ‘fly over’ designs before construction begins. Even programs that do not support three-dimensional modeling are now designed to be compatible with advanced modeling software.



Although Autocad is the computer-aided design software most commonly used in the profession of landscape architecture, many professionals believe that it is not the most appropriate for design. Unlike newer three-dimensional modeling programs such as Maya, 3-D Studio Max and Form-Z, Autocad is still based on a two-dimensional drafting system. According to {name deleted}, head of the landscape architecture department, even recent versions of Autocad are really only a “two-and-a-half-dimensional system” ({name deleted}, Interview). Most three-dimensional modeling in Autocad requires files to be exported into another program. Exporting files is far less efficient than using programs such as Microstation that integrate three-dimensional modeling. Simply stated, Autocad may not be the software best suited for design work in landscape architecture.


Example 2




Layout software became prevalent around 1984, with the release of Post Script for Apple by Adobe, publishers could generate printable content locally for a fraction of what it would cost using earlier methods. The desktop publishing arena, as it was called, exploded in popularity. A program called Page Maker, made by Aldus Corp., was the forerunner in desktop publishing software until 1987. That was when Quark, Inc. released Quark X Press. Page Maker and Quark fought heavily with one another until the mid-1990s, when Quark was left the unofficial champion of the desktop publishing software war. This was when Adobe, the same company that introduced Post Script, purchased Aldus and Page Maker along with it. (1)


For the past several years, Quark has been the most popular layout design software amongst many publishing organizations including Circulars Unlimited and Gulf News, Inc. (2). Things were looking up for Quark, Inc. That is, until Adobe released its program codenamed “K2,” which eventually was called In Design.


A new war of desktop publishing software has emerged. While Quark had no competition, little progress was done in terms of innovation. Now that In Design has been released, they quickly must re-mobilize their forces to keep their program at the top. Adobe has been secretly rebuilding Page Maker from scratch, and now their new product (In Design) is better than ever. (3)




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