Re: User Interfaces

ike relucio (
Sat, 30 May 1998 15:44:20 +0800

-----Original Message-----
From: Jason Williams <>
To: <>
Date: Saturday, May 30, 1998 06:56 AM
Subject: Re: User Interfaces

>Actually, I did a term paper on User Interfaces for a Software Engineerign
>class this last term. So I DID read up on it a bit. :)

Instead of reading up on it a bit, may I suggest reading up on it a lot ? A
little knowledge is a dangerous thing! :-) j/k

>>From a simple aspect, you want a user interface to be powerful without
>being overly complex. Taking extra steps to accomplish the same thing
>usually isn't preferred unless it is more intuitive to do it that way.
>Let's take a small comparison between the 2.1.2 Enhanced CU version and
> A very controlled example would be: "How do I connect to a
>reflector at a specific conference ID that's not in the current phone
>book using the default rates?"
>For 2.1.2:
>1) Select Conference -> PhoneBook (if the Phone Book isn't already up)
>2) Click on Address and type in the IP
>3) Click on Conference ID and type in the ID
>4) Click Call

More likely it is:

1. If the Phone Book is already up, you still have to click on it to make it
the active window. In all likelihood, the Phone Book is not the active
window unless you just started CU
a) Notice that the focus is on the last field/button that was
selected, so if the last thing that was done was clicking on the 'Call'
button, then this button has the focus.
b) If you just started CU, the focus is on the first entry in the
list of reflectors

2. Therefore, depending on 1a, look at the 13 fields in the phonebook to
find where the focus is and if it is not on the IP address field, you have
to make another click
a) If there is a previously entered IP address in the field (which
is very likely since the only time that the ip address field in the phone
book doesn't have an entry is when you first start up 2.1.2) then you have
to remember to do a double-click instead to select the address so you can
type over it otherwise, yet more steps to do ....
b) finally, you enter the IP address

3. Click on the Conf. ID field to enter the conf. id
a) see 2a as it applies to this field

4. Click Call. If you are already connected then you will be prompted if
you want to hang up on the current connection.

>1) Click Manual Dial
>2) Click Internet Address and type in the IP
>3) Click the Conference tab
>4) Click Conference ID and type in the ID
>5) Click Manual Dial

1) Click on Phone Book if it is not the active window.
2) Click Manual Dial and type in the IP since the cursor is already in the
IP address field. Notice that the previously entered IP address has been
selected so the first digit of the IP address that you type will erase the
previous contents.
- Note that if you are already connected, you will be prompted if
you want to disconnect
3) Click the Conference tab and enter conf id since the cursor is already in
the conference ID field. Again, the previosly entered conf id has been
4) Click Manual Dial

>This is the worst case scenario. Using 2.1.2, Step 1) might be optional
>if the Phone Book is already displayed (For me, it was already displayed
>when I loaded 2.1.2).

As you can see, it is not the worst case scenario. It would appear that with
2.1.2, you would have to do a lot more (although some of them are
subconcious things that we most often take for granted --- like
double-clicking on the entry field to select the text so we can overwrite it

>The main added step is having to click another tab. Since all the
>functions are related, it makes more logical sense to place the Conference
>ID and other parameters directly on the Manual Dial screen. One other
>thing to notice is the wasted screen space in the Manual Dial screen to
>begin with, About 1/3 of the Manual Dial screen is dedicated to
>"Options". There's only one option there. "Option" itself is a rather
>vague term for a User Interface. Perhaps "Connect Options" would better
>explain it. Does that imply that the Conference ID isn't an "option"?
>Why does it deserve it's own tab?

Why does it have to have it's own tab ? To the members of this list ----
What percentage of the time, when you manually dial the ip address of a
reflector, do you have to enter a conf. id ? 100% of the time ? 75% of the
time ? 50 ? 25 ? less than 10 ?

I am sure that White Pine made the decision not to clutter the interface by
grouping the fields into tabs and having the fields that are most often used
in the first tab. The decision to include the Send video check box in the
first tab is debatable but may have to do with answering the question "When
I connect to a reflector, do i want to immediately send video or not ?"

>Another issue is the fact that only the IP address is stored in the Manual
>Dial. The Conference ID vanishes if you use Manual Dial again. Contrast
>this with the 2.1.2 PhoneBook where you can leave the PhoneBook loaded (or
>minimized so that it doesn't waste screen space) and it keeps the IP AND
>Conference ID stored. So if you wish to redial the same reflector again,
>2.1.2 makes it possible. makes it impossible without
>remembering the Conference ID you were at.

With this I have to agree with you Jason. But it is not a UI issue but more
of a overlooked bug in my opinion simply because if in the previous tab you
saved the value of the field, there is not reason not to save the value of
the field in the other tab.

Personnally, if i manually dialled into a reflector and i find that the
reflector is something I would go back to often, i would save it in the
phone book ---- but then, that's just me. :-)

You're statement "if you wish to redial the same reflector again, 2.1.2
makes it possible. makes it impossible without remembering the
conf id you were at" ----- now, under what condition would you HAVE to
dial the same reflector and conf id again and when will the phone book make
this possible ? When the ref is busy and you have trouble getting in. Here,
2.1.x definitely has an advantage unless WP fixes that 'minor bug' about
saving the conf id.

>This is just ONE example of how the GUI was made more complicated..And
>yes, it DOES take more steps to accomplish a lot of the same things.
>Another thing to note, is that the Cornell 1.0 version uses the same
>Phone Book style as 2.1.2, so the steps to connect are the same for it.

see above. :-) Again, when deciding whether a GUI is complicated, one must
consider all the subtle steps that are often overlooked. As the old saying
goes --- "It is easier said than done" and i believe this applies to Jason's
statements about manually dialling with 2.1.2

>Those do sound like some pretty good books though... :)

Hmmmmm, I gather with the above statement that you didn't read those books
when you made your term paper ? :-) hah hah

Actually, what I do want to see in a user interface, both in the Cornell and
WP versions, is the ability to choose to not send video when the prompt to
choose a conference id pops up. For instance, if I know that a particular
conference only supports 10 senders and 5 lurkers, then I would want to be
able to choose to not send video when the pop-up window appears and I see
that the conf already has 10 senders but has less than 5 lurkers.

> * Jason Williams -- Austin, Tx. | |
> * University of Texas at Austin | ___ |
> * BS Computer Science \_|_/
>*************** **************|