Software Review: TRISolver 2.1�
By Ellen Domb and Michael Slocum,
TRISolver 2.1� is the first English-language version of the software from TRISolver Consulting Group in Germany. (In our review of a competitive product in March, the editors explained their history and possible biases in working with TRIZ-based software-the same conditions apply to this review.) For readers who want explore the product for themselves, see http://www.trisolver.com.
You can use TRISolver 2.1� as a database for TRIZ problem solving or as a guide to the methodology. The databases include
Users can add their own examples to each of the databases as text, or illustrations can be added as bmp files. This points out one major difference between TRISolver and some of its competitors that allow users to add examples from web pages, Word, PowerPoint or other sources, and competitors that animate the illustrations-this is a text-based program, with very limited use of pictures, graphics, or illustrations.
One somewhat annoying feature is the unpredictability of the examples. When the users right-clicks on any of the database items, a menu pops up that offers the choice Display Examples and Insert Examples. But, only certain databases (the 40 principles, the 12 management principles, the 76 Standard Solutions) have examples in those databases. The effects, the separation principles, and the patterns of evolution do not have examples. A new user can waste a lot of time looking for examples that don�t exist.
Another problem for new users is that many of the features are accessed by right click menus. If you haven�t read the Help files, and you don�t know that the features are in the program, you might never find them!
The TRISolver Method part of the program is based on ARIZ-85. The user is guided through each of the steps of ARIZ, with questions to answer, lists to complete, etc. The software does some processing of the lists. For example, it generates pairs of components as candidates for contradiction pairs that could generate technical contradictions, and it guides the user into defining the functions that link each pair of components.
The program enforces the discipline familiar to ARIZ users-it won�t let you skip steps. Some users will welcome this help, and others will find it constraining. If you don�t know how to answer a question or complete a step, you can consult the comprehensive Help files or view the case study which is included in the system. These Help files constitute an excellent ARIZ textbook, and the case study is very well documented. For future versions of the software, we would like to suggest context-sensitive Help (It can take a long time to find the Help for the particular issue that the user is working on!)
The Idea Manager accumulates the ideas that the user generates, either in the course of applying ARIZ or in accessing the databases directly, and has many options for organizing the ideas into reports for printing, posting to a web site, etc.
Internet-based patent search tools have become standard in TRIZ-based software, and TRISolver has a good capability for searches. The German heritage of the program shows through in the choice of databases to be searched, and in occasional non-English spellings of words (�effects� becomes �effekts� occasionally, etc.) but there is no problem understanding or using the program for non-speakers of German, and no problem adding the users� favorite patent offices or search sites.
The scientific effects catalog is simply a catalog. There is no explanation of the effects. For example, this is the listing for Change of Friction:
|CHANGE OF FRICTION
(Note: Text in the green boxes is copyrighted material taken from the TRISolver 2.1� software, and used for purposes of showing examples in this review.)
If the user has never heard of the Johnson-Rahbec effect, or doesn�t know how radiation can reduce friction, she�ll have to look in other references to find out what it is, and if it can help solve her problem.
The listing itself has one unique feature that may be useful to some users. The effects are cataloged both as actions generating effects and effects generating actions. An example of the latter is shown below:
MECHANICAL VIBRATION, RESONANCE
The former method is more familiar to those who have learned to identify the function to be performed, then look for effects that will perform it, but the second method could be very useful in situations where functional resources have been identified and the users is looking for ways that those resources could be exploited.
TRISolver 2.1 sells for 990 Euros. Readers who are shopping for TRIZ-based software should give it serious consideration.
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