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Re: [usage-centered] browser based application UI

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  • Jeff Patton
    Thanks for the response. This sounds exactly like some of the thought I ve been looking for - and the site looks like a great collection of additional
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 11, 2000
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      Thanks for the response. This sounds exactly like
      some of the thought I've been looking for - and the
      site looks like a great collection of additional
      information to boot.

      Thanks again,

      -Jeff


      --- Thomas Nunes <tnunes@...> wrote:
      > There is an interesting 3-part paper at
      > http://www.uidesign.net that
      > discusses how to architect the MVC design on the
      > server-side for web-based
      > applications. It uses statecharts to model the
      > interaction or navigation
      > between pages, which I find to be an interesting
      > approach. The first part
      > starts at
      >
      http://www.uidesign.net/1999/papers/webmvc_part1.html
      > . The third
      > part talks about some of the issue involved with
      > complex web-based
      > applications, such as managing the user's session,
      > managing transactions,
      > and handling issues such as exception handling, and
      > unexpected navigation
      > using the back button and bookmarks. It won't
      > answer all the concerns
      > you've expressed, but it may provide a good
      > architecture to build from. Web
      > applications are naturally more complex to build
      > than informational web
      > sites. But with the proper effort toward a sound
      > architecture and design,
      > they need not be fragile and difficult to maintain.
      >
      > I hope you find this helpful.
      >
      > Regards,
      >
      > Tom Nunes
      >
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Jeff Patton <jeff621@...>
      > To: usage-centered@egroups.com
      > <usage-centered@egroups.com>
      > Date: Friday, September 08, 2000 7:17 PM
      > Subject: [usage-centered] browser based application
      > UI
      >
      >
      > >
      > >Although it looks like this group may have become
      > inactive, I'll drop
      > >a post here anyway to see if someone is listening.
      > >
      > >I'm looking for resources � articles, papers,
      > discussion
      > >groups etc.. that discuss browser based application
      > UI. By browser
      > >based applications, I don't mean websites, rather I
      > mean a piece
      > >of software you'd normally expect to be a
      > client-server app. One
      > >that handles transaction processing, reporting,
      > decision support
      > >sorts of things � but just happens to be deployed
      > through a
      > >browser using html and JavaScript.
      > >
      > >In such an application I find that some
      > designers/developers work
      > >very hard to make the application behave like it's
      > *not* running
      > >under a browser. Creating lots of intelligent
      > JavaScript client
      > >side, doing lots of work server side to preserve
      > state, using lots of
      > >complex browser specific layout client side to more
      > tightly control
      > >the look and feel, etc.. It's my opinion that all
      > this effort
      > >not only makes the application time consuming to
      > develop, delicate
      > >and tough to maintain, but confuses users. The
      > resulting app ends up
      > >being somewhere between client server and a website
      > type browser
      > >app. The application isn't able to leverage what
      > users may
      > >already know about running a browser or a client
      > server application.
      > >We end up teaching them this new form of
      > application behavior.
      > >
      > >Not sure if I'm being clear here, and can provide
      > some specific
      > >behavior examples if necessary. But, my real hope
      > is that someone
      > >knows what I'm talking about and has seen some
      > published
      > >discussion on this � and or can offer some personal
      > anecdotal
      > >information.
      > >
      > >Thanks in advance,
      > >
      > >-Jeff
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      >


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    • Jeff Patton
      Larry s comments are indisputably correct. Certainly there s no need for a browser based application to look and feel like one simply for the sake of it.
      Message 2 of 5 , Sep 11, 2000
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        Larry's comments are indisputably correct. Certainly
        there's no need for a browser based application to
        look and feel like one simply for the sake of it.
        However your comments Hallvard do get at the meat of
        what I'm saying.

        By now there's a certain body of knowledge we can
        anticipate that users come to the computer with.
        Certainly that's gated by who the users are and the
        nature of the software, but in general with software
        built for frequent users we can expect understanding
        of some basic UI behavior - and even count on it. In
        a windows based application, I expect ctrl-c & ctrl-v
        to copy and paste. I expect file-save to be in the
        upper left hand corner of the UI.

        When I type a url into a browser I expect a certain
        bag of behavior as well. I certainly don't want to
        get reprimanded by the application for hitting the
        browser's "back" or "refresh" buttons as many
        applications pre-occupied with managing a stateful
        session tend to do. Nor do I have trouble
        understanding that if I don't "submit" the form I'm
        working on, I can't expect the data I've keyed in to
        have been transmitted back to the server. It's also
        been my experience that not excepting fundamental
        truths about browsers - like back buttons - can result
        in lots of delicate server-side code and/or client
        side code with hundreds of lines of embedded
        JavaScript to feign client-like behavior.

        I believe in _Software for Use_ there's some verbage
        on delivering software to users using their own
        language. The browser is fast becoming a tool used on
        a daily basis by millions of people for wildly
        different reasons. There's value in leveraging what
        users know about browser usage. Understanding browser
        usage is fast becoming part of the language of many
        disparate user communities.

        > And if there is a
        > mismatch between the
        > users' expectations and the real rules of
        > interaction, the interface will be
        > a lot less usable, even though it is based on a
        > sound task model.

        Focusing in on that comment, has anyone seen anything
        written regarding applications that suffer as a result
        of breaking users expectations - or alternatively
        applications which have succeed in spite of breaking
        accepted conventions within their deployment
        environment?

        Thanks both Larry and Hallvard for your valuable
        comments.

        -Jeff

        --- Hallvard Tratteberg <hal@...> wrote:
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > >From: Larry Constantine
        > [mailto:lConstantine@...]
        > >The real issue is not whether it looks and works
        > like a web-page in a
        > >browser or like an application with the browser as
        > thin client. The
        > >important thing is whether it best supports the
        > work that users need to
        > >accomplish. There are web-based applications that
        > demand departure from web
        > >conventions for efficient task support.
        >
        > While I agree that you should always start with a
        > task model, this will only
        > cover higher level interaction. Adaption to a
        > particular interaction style
        > and platform, like web-interaction through a
        > browser, requires getting many
        > details right. Implementing direct manipulation is
        > impossible in a
        > web-browser, and while the browser/server model fits
        > the forms based
        > interaction style pretty well, it cannot always be
        > made to look & feel like
        > a standard database application. And if there is a
        > mismatch between the
        > users' expectations and the real rules of
        > interaction, the interface will be
        > a lot less usable, even though it is based on a
        > sound task model.
        >
        > >Another issue is the target audience and usage
        > context. An application used
        > >by a captive intranet or extranet audience has
        > greater latitude than a B2C
        > >e-commerce site. However, even there, the rules
        > keep changing, and visitors
        > >are becoming accustomed to embedded Java applets,
        > pop-up tools, etc.
        >
        > The browser is increasingly being used for "real"
        > applications, by gradually
        > mixing in new technology for making the browser more
        > responsive (without
        > going through the server) and slowly extending what
        > is expected from
        > interaction through browsers. Nevertheless, I
        > believe one should be very
        > careful not to overload a web-application with
        > interaction from other
        > styles, and perhaps use Java (which in this
        > discussion is just another
        > standard GUI implementation platform) for the whole
        > application.
        >
        > >The best way in practice is always to design it
        > right from a task-support
        > >perspective, then adapt it to implementation
        > context, compromising only
        > >where necessary and acceptable.
        >
        > Again, as a general rule I agree with this, but at
        > some point in detailing
        > the user interface the interaction style mandated by
        > the platform takes
        > becomes more important than the task model in
        > defining the interaction. At
        > that point other rules apply, which are not covered
        > by the task/usage-based
        > approach.
        >
        > Hallvard Tratteberg, stipendiat ved IDI, NTNU
        > http://www.idi.ntnu.no/~hal, mailto:hal@...,
        > phone:+47 7359 3443
        >
        >


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      • Larry Constantine
        Jeff, ... Yes, indeed, and we all must remember that we are the oddballs. The majority of users surfing with IE have no idea that you can ctrl-c & ctrl-v. For
        Message 3 of 5 , Sep 11, 2000
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          Jeff,

          > Certainly that's gated by who the users are and the
          > nature of the software, but in general with software
          > built for frequent users we can expect understanding
          > of some basic UI behavior - and even count on it. In
          > a windows based application, I expect ctrl-c & ctrl-v
          > to copy and paste. I expect file-save to be in the
          > upper left hand corner of the UI.

          Yes, indeed, and we all must remember that we are the oddballs. The majority
          of users surfing with IE have no idea that you can ctrl-c & ctrl-v. For
          example, in a survey of customers of one B2C site, less than half knew that
          you could right-click with the mouse and nearly a third of those who knew
          "almost never" used the right mouse button.

          > I believe in _Software for Use_ there's some verbage
          > on delivering software to users using their own
          > language. The browser is fast becoming a tool used on
          > a daily basis by millions of people for wildly
          > different reasons. There's value in leveraging what
          > users know about browser usage. Understanding browser
          > usage is fast becoming part of the language of many
          > disparate user communities.

          The operant word is "leverage." You build upon past experience rather than
          become buried in it. Those millions learned to surf the Web; they were not
          born knowing how to use the back button. The trick is to make any added
          learning painless--both subtle and subliminal.

          --Larry Constantine
          Director of Research & Development | Constantine & Lockwood, Ltd.
          58 Kathleen Circle | Rowley, MA 01969
          t: 978 948 5012 | f: 978 948 5036 | www.foruse.com
        • Nuno J. Nunes
          on 09/09/00 02:44, Thomas Nunes at tnunes@snet.net wrote: Thomas and Jeff ... We re organizing a workshop on that subject at the forthcoming UML 2000
          Message 4 of 5 , Sep 11, 2000
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            on 09/09/00 02:44, Thomas Nunes at tnunes@... wrote:


            Thomas and Jeff

            > There is an interesting 3-part paper at http://www.uidesign.net that
            > discusses how to architect the MVC design on the server-side for web-based
            > applications. It uses statecharts to model the interaction or navigation
            > between pages, which I find to be an interesting approach. The first part
            > starts at http://www.uidesign.net/1999/papers/webmvc_part1.html . The third

            We're organizing a workshop on that subject at the forthcoming UML'2000
            conference. We hope to discuss a lot of related work regarding the use of
            the UML (and the different underlying diagrams) for interaction design.

            Take a look at some of the position papers that discuss that and other
            interesting subjects. URL at http://math.uma.pt/tupis00

            Nuno

            --
            Nuno Jardim Nunes
            University of Madeira - Teaching Assistant
            Mathematics Dep. - Computer Science Unit
            phone: +351 91 705160 (direct) 705150 (secretary)
            fax: +351 91 705199
            URL: http://math.uma.pt/njn/
            Address: Campus Universitário da Penteada
            9000 - Funchal - Portugal
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