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An Adobe Flex Application for Course of Action Evaluation

Please Give Me Your Thoughts

If you have a few minutes I would really appreciate you checking out an application I wrote. The application automates some actions common to US Military staff planning by building a dynamic, interactive decision-matrix. I’ll discuss the use case for the application and then end with links to the source code for the app (easily read, copied, downloaded) and link to the online version of the app.

First a disclaimer: This is really a simple thing. Since it takes advantage of the powerful capabilities of Adobe Flex it is under 200 lines of code and if I were a better programmer it would probably be a whole lot smaller. And, although I think this is laid out like many old style military decision matrix graphics, I’m not much of a designer. So if you have any advice/thoughts/tips for me on either design or coding (or anything else) I would really appreciate it.

staff-decision-matrix-JP5The point of the app: Years of staffwork and military doctrine development and service school training has produced an approach to modern military planning that involves course of action development, analysis and selection. Potential courses of action for a military campaign are produced by the staff based on inputs from the Commander and many other factors. The COAs that are nominated for consideration are all to be adequate, feasible and acceptable. But the commander must chose the optimal one. As a tool for selecting the optimal one, the staff will normally prepare a variant of the decision matrix. (for more on this joint planning process see Joint Pub 5.0 available online at: http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/).

The application presented here enables a staff to evaluate COAs by criteria and instantaneously see which scores higher. It then allows the weightings of the criteria to be dynamically changed and the resulting impact on the decision is immediately shown.

To try the app see here.

The source code is available here.

The app is also available for a download to your desktop (it runs as a desktop application in the Adobe AIR environment).

My eventual goal for this app: I’ll make it freely available to several of the open source frameworks in DoD and will host it for free for anyone who wants to use it for any purpose. But before doing that I sure would appreciate frank advice on how to make it better.

Other potential uses for the app: This process and the decision-matrix can be used to help focus your thought and enhance your judgment for a wide range of decisions.  Which house should you buy? Which job should you take? Where should you go for your vacation?

Thanks in advance for any feedback you can provide.

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder and partner at Cognitio Corp and publsher of CTOvision.com

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