Debrief was originally produced in 1995 in the Maritime Warfare Centre to act as a desktop viewer for results produced by the ASSET submarine simulator. In use, it quickly became apparent that real exercise data could also be viewed in the application, removing the requirement for clerical staff to produce paper plots for use in analysis. The initial version of Debrief was a 16 bit MS Windows C++ application.
Debrief was updated in 1997 to 32 bits, in order to exploit the richer user interface components available for 32 bit Windows applications. It was at this stage that the application was demonstrated and subsequently issued under license to COMSUBDEVRON 12 of the US Navy.
In 1999, development towards Debrief 2000 was started. Over the previous four years a number of fresh requirements had arisen, requirements which could not be economically met using the existing architecture. Accordingly the Debrief 2000 application started with a clean sheet, adopting a modern modular approach to allow incremental implementation and insertion of future modules as they are required. The rapid maturity experienced by Java™ together with the availability of cheaply available development environments and rich application libraries (Serialisation, Java3D and XML in particular), and its platform independence made Java the natural choice for the application.
At the end of 2000, Ian Mayo, the developer and project manager of Debrief, left full-time contracting at the Maritime Warfare Centre to setup his own software development consultancy, PlanetMayo Ltd.
A competitive open tender process was conducted during late 2001 to supply the Maritime Warfare Centre with Debrief support. The contract was won by PlanetMayo, who grouped up the implementation of the MWC’s fresh requirements in a major update to Debrief, titled Debrief 2001. This update bought new, large areas of functionality to Debrief including vectored chart data, display of narrative text, and display of sensor-data.
Support for Debrief from PlanetMayo Ltd continued through 2002, with the company providing bug-fix and user support, followed by the update to Debrief 2002 in Summer 2002. The major new areas of functionality in Debrief 2002 were a gridded bathymetry and a ground-up re-implementation of 3d plotting. By 2005, Debrief was again reaching the limits of the underlying architecture. Accordingly Debrief NG was developed, which changed Debrief from being a standalone application to one that sits on top of IBM’s Eclipse framework. From this broad-capability foundation, Debrief has continued to grow.