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Proceedings of the HCI'93 Conference on People and Computers VIII

Fullname:Proceedings of the Eighth Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group
Note:People and Computers VIII
Editors:James L. Alty; Dan Diaper; D. Guest
Location:Loughborough University
Dates:1993-Sep-07 to 1993-Sep-10
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Standard No:ISBN 0-521-46633-4; hcibib: BCSHCI93
  1. Invited Papers
  2. User Interface Design
  3. User Modelling
  4. Tools and Techniques
  5. Evaluation Issues
  6. User Evaluation
  7. Computer-Supported Cooperative Work
  8. Programming
  9. Hypertext

Invited Papers

The Design of Reliable HCI: The Hunt for Hidden Assumptions BIBAK 3-15
  Erik Hollnagel
The design of HCI is based on a number of assumptions. Some of these are explicitly stated in design guidelines. Others are hidden in the design and possibly even concealed for the designer. A particular instance is the assumptions about the reliability of human performance -- and cognition -- and about which things can go wrong. It is important for designers of HCI to know more about human reliability, regardless of whether the HCI is for industrial or academic applications. Lack of knowledge may deceive designers to rely on their personal experience. That is, however, unlikely to constitute a valid basis for the design and the resulting system is therefore likely to be inadequate. This caution is pertinent for human reliability as well as for the, unfortunately, many other aspects of man-machine interaction that do not receive the attention they rightly deserve.
Keywords: Design method, Reliability, Linked HCI, Human error
Beyond Human Computer Interaction: Designing Useful and Usable Computational Environments BIBAK 17-31
  Gerhard Fischer
Human-computer interaction has refocussed many research efforts within computer science from a technology-centered view to a human-centered view. But current research efforts and systems (both prototypes and those commercially available) are just the beginning rather than the end. Conceptual frameworks and computational environments are needed that will give domain workers more independence from computer specialists. Just as the pen was taken out of the hands of the scribes in the middle ages, the power of high-tech computer scribes should be re-defined. To turn computers into convivial tools requires that end users themselves can use, change and enhance their tools and build new ones without having to become professional-level programmers.
   This article explores a number of future themes transcending current views of human-computer interaction. It describes domain-oriented design environments as new prototypes of computational environments which are simultaneously useful and usable by focusing on humans and their tasks.
Keywords: Human-computer interface design, Cooperative work, Domain oriented design

User Interface Design

Precipitating Change in System Usage by Function Revelation and Problem Reformulation BIBAK 35-47
  Wai On Lee; Philip J. Barnard
Long term learning has been neglected in much of HCI research. Although many workers have observed that users typically asymptote at mediocre levels of expertise and make sub-optimal usage of system functionality, little detailed research has been applied to examine such a phenomenon. Attempts to tackle the problem in the past have focused on finding effective ways to reveal system functionality to the users. In this paper, we examined the adequacy of such an approach to effect change in users' function repertoire. The results showed that to precipitate a permanent change, users have to be supported in reformulating problems on the basis of their relevant features. The implications of the results are discussed.
Keywords: Change, Long-term learning, Intelligent help systems, Function revelation, Problem reformulation
Icon Design and its Effect on Guessability, Learnability, and Experienced User Performance BIBAK 49-59
  Jackie Moyes; Patrick W. Jordan
A great deal of research has been conducted in order to find properties which determine the success of an icon. The overwhelming majority of work has indicated representational type as the most important property. This paper contains a review of some of this work, and reports a study investigating the effects of representational type on three components of usability; guessability, learnability, and EUP. These effects were compared with those for set compatibility. Results indicate that, whilst representational type might strongly influence performance during the early stages of interaction, it may be of less significance as the user reaches EUP. This is in contrast to set compatibility which is of greatest influence during the learnability stage.
Keywords: Usability, Set compatibility, Rule compatibility, Icon design, Guessability, Learnability, EUP
Adapting to Interface Resources and Circumventing Interface Problems: Knowledge Development in a Menu Search Task BIBAK 61-77
  Wai On Lee
This paper examines knowledge development in an information search task using two menu systems. We found that in a system where locational cues were distinctive, subjects adapted to them by developing locational knowledge of menu items. However, in a system where such cues were poor, users circumvented the difficulty of menu selection by committing to memory part of the menu items names. The results confirmed our hypothesis that users will adapt to interface resources and circumvent interface problems in order to satisfy the demands of the task. We conclude by examining the implications of the findings for 'display-based' expertise using a framework for the analysis of change in skill development.
Keywords: Information flow, Development of expertise, Locational knowledge, Specific item knowledge

User Modelling

A Survey of Usability Engineering Within the European IT Industry -- Current Practice and Needs BIBAK 81-94
  Andrew Dillon; Marian Sweeney; Martin Maguire
The present paper reports on a survey of current practices in usability engineering and requirements for support within European IT organisations. Responses were obtained from 84 individuals working in nine European countries. The data were analysed in terms of four themes; respondents' background, their interpretation and appreciation of the concept of usability, current practice with regard to usability evaluation, problems and requirements for support in conducting usability evaluation. Results suggest widespread awareness but only superficial application of Human Factors methods in Industry.
Keywords: Usability engineering, Usability evaluation tools, Industrial survey, Industrial practice, Usability laboratories, HCI guidelines, Standards
Modelling User Performance in Visually Based Interactions BIBAK 95-110
  Jon May; Lisa A. Tweedie; Philip J. Barnard
This paper outlines a general technique for analysing user performance in visually based interactions. Such interactions are modelled as an evaluation process in which the user compares the visual structure of an object with an internally-generated propositional representation of the target. The content and structure of this propositional representation is dependent upon the context within which the target has been learnt and searched for previously. The technique is used to frame a specific model of icon search, and an experiment is described which tests the model against icon sets with different visual structures, and by keeping one set of icons constant but changing the context within which they are presented. The results provide general support for the technique, with icon search times being affected both by the number of icons which contain the 'psychological subject' of the target icon, and by the depth to which the propositional representations must be evaluated before icons can be rejected or accepted as the target.
Keywords: Icons, Visual interaction, Visual search, Cognitive modelling, Display design
Developing Runnable User Models: Separating the Problem Solving Techniques from the Domain Knowledge BIBAK 111-121
  Ann Blandford; Richard M. Young
Runnable models of computer users can serve as the basis for predictions about the usability of interfaces. Both the construction and the running of a user model can provide useful information to interface designers. To define such a model, the designer must specify what users know about the interface (relevant to the tasks they are to perform with it), how they will use that knowledge in their operation of the device, and what background knowledge they can be assumed to have. In this paper we report on work which allows these different components of the user model to be specified independently, and automatically integrated to generate a set of Soar productions which constitute a runnable model.
Keywords: Predictive modelling, User models, Interface design, Cognitive architecture

Tools and Techniques

PowerTools: New Generation Data Presentation Tools BIBAK 125-142
  Eugenio Zabala; Richard W. Taylor
This paper introduces the PowerTools data presentation toolset and its application. PowerTools is the name given to a set of diverse data presentation systems, integrated under the Common Tool Control (CTC) program. At present, the system is made up of two visualisation tools (Maritxu and The Cave) and a sonification tool (SRT, Sonic Representation Tool). The system was originally developed to aid the understanding and optimisation of parallel computer systems. It is now being applied to problems in which quantity, variation and complexity of data is problematic (e.g. Control and Stock Markets).
   The visualisation tools have been designed to deal with large quantities of complex multivariate dynamic data. They exploit pre-attentive vision's ability to discriminate the data sub-sets that require attentive analysis. Maritxu is highly scalable and has been designed for data set comparison; The Cave portrays data evolution through time. SRT generates a sound track driven by the input data set and has been designed to represent multiple dynamic data items simultaneously.
Keywords: Data presentation, Visualisation, Sonification, Applied psychology
A Generic User Interface Constructor for Planning and Scheduling Applications BIBAK 143-156
  Jan van Putten; Nardie Scharenborg; Auke Woerlee
This paper describes a generic user interface construction tool for planning and scheduling applications. By means of predefined graphical representations, a user interface can easily be defined for any data model associated to a planning or scheduling problem. The set of predefined representations currently contains: a tabular view, a map, a Gantt chart and a bar chart. A planning or scheduling application is constructed by choosing the underlying data model and subsequently defining one or more graphical representations where particular elements of the data model are attached to the axes in those representations. The Model View Control paradigm is applied in order to guarantee that the representations show the actual contents of the data model, that is, to preserve consistency.
Keywords: Model based UIMS, Object orientation, Automated plan board, Planning and scheduling
Objects, Invariants and Treacle: Animation in the Views System BIBAK 157-171
  Lon Barfield; Eddy Boeve; Steven Pemberton
With interactive computer systems there are times when the user or the system can make some discreet change that takes the system from one distinct graphic state to another. Usually the feedback provided is purely 'before and after' in nature. 'Fill-in' animation gives continuity by providing the intermediate states between the two different graphic states. Such animation is already in use, but each program that uses it must implement its own special case of it. The Views system is a computing environment that unifies many aspects of computer use and application development. Within its framework 'fill-in' animation can be implemented in a general, system-wide way available to all applications.
Keywords: Computer graphics, Graphics methodology, Ergonomics of computer software, User interfaces
A Method for Multimedia Interface Design BIBAK 173-190
  Peter Faraday; Alistair Sutcliffe
Multimedia (MM) interfaces are currently created by intuition. Development of a method for analysis and design of MM presentation interfaces is described. The study investigates task based information analysis, persistence of information, attention and concurrency in presentation. The method gives an agenda of issues and techniques for specification, and guidelines for media selection and presentation scripting. Use of the method is illustrated with a case study of shipboard emergency management.
Keywords: Multimedia, Task analysis, Presentation, Design, Methodology
A Novel Device for Using the Hand as a Human-Computer Interface BIBAK 191-202
  Christoph Maggioni
Making today's complex computer applications easier and more intuitive to use and to learn is one of the main issues in research on human-computer interaction. Investigating the diverse mechanisms of natural human communication and mapping these to multimodal human-machine interfaces should lead to qualitative improvement in human-machine communication and thus significantly increase the usability of computers. Two central observations regarding human communication and behavior can be made: people have a natural ability to move and act in their three-dimensional environment, and they naturally use gestures as a means of communication. Three-dimensional representations of real environments form a new means of communication between man and machine, making explicit use of mechanisms which humans have learned and experienced during their whole lives in moving themselves and manipulating objects. We present a novel three-dimensional input device that allows applications to be controlled by gestures of the human hand. Hand position and orientation are obtained using a video camera and image processing techniques. The system works in real-time and is integrated into a three-dimensional environment. Our input device has proven to be very reliable and is more natural to use than other conventional computer input devices systems.
Keywords: Input device, Image processing, Gesture recognition
Reusing User Interface Designs: Experiences with a Prototype Tool and High-Level Representations BIBAK 203-216
  T. T. Carey; M. S. Ellis; M. Rusli
A library of user interface design exemplars is being constructed to aid designers in learning from and reusing existing artifacts. Reuse concepts from software engineering have been applied to the design of the library. Experiments are underway to test usage-oriented design representations for incorporation in the library. Several scenarios of potential use are suggested.
Keywords: Software reuse, Design rationale, User interface design, Toolkits
Beyond Hacking: A Model Based Approach to User Interface Design BIBAK 217-231
  S. Wilson; P. Johnson; C. Kelly; J. Cunningham; P. Markopoulos
This paper discusses the role of models in the design of user interfaces, with particular emphasis on integration across different modelling stages. We are concerned with bridging the gap between psychologically motivated modelling approaches to HCI and implementation oriented interaction models, to produce a task-informed user interface design process. An early version of a UIDE which provides support for the role played by models in the design process is described and exemplified through models taken from a case study. We conclude with an assessment of our experiences and a discussion of how the work will proceed.
Keywords: User interface design, Task modelling, User modelling, UIDE
Specifying and Prototyping Dynamic Human-Computer Interfaces for Stochastic Applications BIBAK 233-246
  C. W. Johnson
Formal methods are increasingly being used to support the software engineering of complex systems. A number of limitations restrict the utility of these techniques for the design of human-computer interfaces. Firstly, formal notations often abstract away from the temporal properties that affect usability. Secondly, specifications fail to consider the stochastic, or probabilistic, behaviours that characterise human-computer interaction with distributed and concurrent applications. This paper proposes techniques to overcome these limitations. It is argued that temporal logic provides a means of representing sequential and concurrent properties of interaction. It is also demonstrated that logic can be used to explicitly represent assumptions about operator responses to high and low risk events. In order to support the validation of these assumptions we have implemented a tool which exploits Monte Carlo techniques to directly derive prototype simulations from temporal logic specifications of interactive systems.
Keywords: Formal methods, Prototyping, Monte Carlo simulation

Evaluation Issues

Interface Semantics and Users' Device Models: Identifying Evaluation Issues for Direct Manipulation Design BIBAK 249-265
  M. V. Springett; A. S. Grant
This paper proposes that evaluation of direct manipulation (DM) interfaces requires a richer analysis than is provided by current methods. We begin by considering the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary evaluation approaches when applied to examples of DM dialogue breakdowns. In the light of this analysis we go on to discuss the necessary focus of future DM evaluation methods. In particular, we focus on the importance of presentational factors in DM interface design. We consider the role of metaphor and feature presentation in synthesis with users' representations of tasks. An analysis of the interface's role in the formation of users' device models is then proposed, and its potential use in evaluation discussed.
Keywords: Direct manipulation, Evaluation, Task model, User's device model
User-Centred Evaluation of Explanation Facilities in Information Systems BIBAK 267-276
  H. Johnson
This paper argues that explanation facilities will become common place in future interactive systems. As a result, a major concern for HCI researchers is to establish the utility and quality of explanation provision currently provided by a range of information systems, such as intelligent tutoring, expert or knowledge-based systems, etc. Although there has been much research in the area recently, there are still three problems which need to be addressed. First, there is a lack of unifying theory; secondly, there are no criteria by which to judge the resulting explanations; and finally, there are very few empirical studies which demonstrate the claimed improvements. In this paper we are particularly concerned with developing criteria for evaluation and also considering why evaluation is important and how evaluation of explanation provision in information systems might occur.
Keywords: Evaluation, Evaluation criteria, Explanation, Information systems

User Evaluation

Critical Incidents and Critical Themes in Empirical Usability Evaluation BIBAK 279-292
  John M. Carroll; Jurgen Koenemann-Belliveau; Mary Beth Rosson; Mark Kevin Singley
Empirical usability evaluations (particularly 'formative' evaluations) hinge on observing and interpreting critical incidents of use: the causes of such critical incidents can often be found in the immediate contexts of their occurrence and can guide specific design changes. However, it can also happen that the causes of a critical incident are temporally remote from its context of occurrence or distributed throughout the user's prior experiences. We propose augmenting critical incident methods by analysis of what we call 'critical threads': sets of causally related user episodes that, taken together, define major usability themes.
Keywords: Evaluation methodology, Formative evaluation, Usability evaluation, Design rationale, Psychological design rationale, Claims analysis
The Development of DRUM: A Software Tool for Video-Assisted Usability Evaluation BIBAK 293-309
  Miles Macleod; Ralph Rengger
The development is reported of a practical software tool which supports video-assisted observational evaluation of usability. The Diagnostic Recorder for Usability Measurement (DRUM) helps evaluators to organise and analyse user-based evaluations, and to deliver measures and diagnostic data. This paper reports DRUM's rationale, theoretical background, requirements capture and collaborative iterative development. It outlines DRUM's functionality and manner of use. DRUM runs on Apple Macintosh, drives a range of video machines, and supports management of evaluation data, task analysis, video mark-up and logging (with find and replay of logged events), analysis of logged data and calculation of metrics.
Keywords: Usability, Observational evaluation, Tools, Video, Protocol analysis, Usability engineering, Usability metrics
The Three-Dimensional Graphical User Interface: Evaluation for Design Evolution BIBAK 311-331
  A. G. Sutcliffe; U. K. Patel
The design of a three-dimensional interactive graphical user interface for a medical knowledge based system is described. A prototype of the design has been developed and evaluated. The evaluation study investigated usability, and individual differences in patterns of interaction. We found that there are individual differences in the way users explore three dimensional visualisations, and that usability is dependent on both the morphology (visualisation) and manipulations (interface functionality). While three-dimensional graphics can help reduce representational complexity, other forms complexity are intrinsic to the medium and require design solutions. Implications of these findings for design evolution are discussed.
Keywords: Three-dimensional graphics, Visualisation, Usability, Evaluation, Morphology, Manipulation

Computer-Supported Cooperative Work

A Formal Approach to the Presentation of CSCW Systems BIBAK 335-352
  C. W. Johnson
It is a non-trivial task to develop appropriate presentation strategies for Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) systems. Some applications, such as communications environments, must be presented to all the members of a group. Other information is only relevant for those users who are engaged in particular activities. Representing a design in terms of bitmaps and device primitives can obscure such requirements. This paper argues that formal, mathematically based, specification techniques can represent images that are distributed amongst multiple, concurrent operators. A limitation of this approach is that formal specifications provide little impression of what it would be like to interact with a CSCW system. The Prelog prototyping tool has been developed to overcome this limitation. Prelog can be used to derive prototypes from logic specifications of multi-user applications. Prelog is intended to support the early stages of development when it may not be possible to analyse systems within their eventual working context. It also supports the later stages of development because Prelog displays can be incorporated into final implementations using either the C or Ada programming languages.
Keywords: CSCW, Formal methods, Prelog, Graphics programming
Theory-Based Negotiation Frameworks for Supporting Group Work BIBAK 353-365
  Beth Adelson
In this paper we begin by presenting a taxonomy of impasses in group work situations. The taxonomy includes factors such as goal conflicts and resource limitations. We then present a prescriptive theoretical framework designed to support negotiation during these impasses. We also describe Negotiation Lens, a system which embodies the framework by supporting the actions prescribed by the theory. We then analyze the adequacy of the framework which stresses a collaborative form of negotiation. From this analysis we suggest a line of research which would lead to an expanded taxonomy. We hypothesize the expanded taxonomy would include interpersonal factors such as inequalities in the power of negotiating parties. We then discuss the framework and tools which would be useful given this expanded view of causes of group work impasses. Lastly we suggest the relevance of these factors to other classes of groupware.
Keywords: Group work, CSCW, Interaction architectures, Organisational and societal issues
Autonomous Support for Group Working: The Aide de Camp Project BIBAK 367-382
  F. P. Coenen; I. Finch; T. J. M. Bench-Capon; M. J. R. Shave
Computer networking and the genre of software, collectively referred to as groupware, enabled by such networks have been with us for some time. The potential advantages to be gained cannot be overstated. There are also disadvantages associated with the technology. In particular the introduction of computer networking and groupware has significantly increased the work load of individual network users, especially those charged with the administration of the cooperative tasks that the software supports. In this paper we describe the Aide de Camp system. This is a decentralised communications management system that actively addresses the administration of cooperative tasks. This is achieved through the development of two key concepts, collaborative mail filtering and the use of autonomous agents to administer cooperative tasks. Both are described and the advantages gained illustrated through the use of a number of examples taken from applications currently under investigation.
Keywords: Group work, Autonomous agents, Work-flow, Task scripting language, Cooperative (mail) filtering language
A Study of Turn-Taking in a Computer-Supported Group Task BIBAK 383-394
  Andy McKinlay; Rob Procter; Oliver Masting; Robin Woodburn; John Arnott
Synchronous computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) tools are intended to provide opportunities for remotely located groups to work together in a manner akin to groups meeting face-to-face. Little is understood, however, of what may influence the effectiveness of group work performed under these circumstances. One likely factor is the way in which 'floor control', or turn management is supported, and its impact on group coordination. This paper describes an experiment designed to examine the impact of different turn management protocols on the performance of groups using a CSCW tool. The results are compared with the performance of a group working face-to-face. Finally, the implications for coordination in synchronous CSCW are discussed.
Keywords: Computer-supported cooperative work, Conversation analysis, Computer-mediated communications, Turn management


A Longitudinal Study of Transfer between Programming Languages by Experienced Programmers BIBAK 397-410
  Jean Scholtz
This study reports on a longitudinal study of experienced programmers transferring to a new language. Our previous research studied the initial efforts of experienced programmers transferring to a new language. This work showed that transfer, even within the same language paradigm, presents difficulties. In particular, transfer to a dissimilar language poses problems in plan selection even for experienced programmers. In our longitudinal study we found that these problems did not disappear with increased exposure to the language. With few exceptions subjects reused the plans that they first developed rather than searching for a more appropriate solution. We believe that there is a definite need for tools that aid the programmer in their initial efforts at learning a new language. Without outside intervention programmers may be very slow to exploit language capabilities.
Keywords: Transfer between programming languages, Plan selection, Programming meta-knowledge
Expertise and Display-Based Strategies in Computer Programming BIBAK 411-423
  Simon P. Davies
This paper reports two studies which explore the development of display-based problem solving strategies in the context of computer programming tasks. These studies suggest that expertise in programming is dependent upon the development of strategies for effectively utilising external displays. In this context, it appears that novices rely extensively upon working memory to generate as much of a solution as possible before transferring it to an external source. In contrast, experts make extensive use of an external display to support problem solving. These results are discussed in terms of a framework which emphasises the role of display-based problem solving and its contribution to strategy development. Finally, consideration is given to the implications of these findings for the design of programming support tools and languages.
Keywords: Programming, Expertise, Display-based problem solving, Strategy development
MRE: A Flexible and Customisable Program Visualisation Architecture BIBAK 425-439
  Mike Brayshaw
In this paper we will look to extend basic visual metaphors to produce higher level descriptions of program execution that allow users to express their own perspectives on a task. We shall show how this can be done by adapting a model of event recognition using agents, demonstrate how these agents are useful in their own right, and then embed such definitions within templates to generate new visualisations. The aim is thus to bring increased flexibility and expressibility to programmers in order to aid software tool based problem solving, enable them to build increasingly abstract models of their domain, and debug programs from this particular perspective level. The above will be presented within the context of an overall debugging model, and its integration demonstrated.
Keywords: Program visualisation, Agents, Customisation


Why HyperTalk Debugging is More Painful than it Ought To Be BIBAK 443-462
  Marc Eisenstadt
As part of a series of investigations on the nature of programming and debugging environments, this paper looks in detail at what it's like to work with an apparently 'modern' and 'friendly' environment: HyperCard. I kept a detailed diary of several lengthy debugging sessions, and then analysed the problems and difficulties I experienced. Eight fundamental problems were observed in the use of HyperTalk's debugging facilities: indirect access to troublesome source code; disruptive intermediate actions required; poor interpreter access during breaks; poor monitoring of built-in functions; no coarse-grained view of execution; no data flow analysis; no control flow analysis; deceptive view of inner states. The paper discusses the broader implications of these eight problems, as well as possible ways to alleviate the problems.
Keywords: Debugging, Programming, Programming environment, Hypertext
Towards Cognitively Salient Relations for Hypertext Navigation BIBAK 463-477
  Henry Bloomfield; Peter Johnson
The difficulties involved in the navigation of computer-based information spaces have been widely documented. This paper discusses the navigation problems and argues that some of these will be alleviated by the use of a set of domain-independent, semantically 'rich' relationships to define links between pieces of information.
   The background to this area is summarised and an experiment to support the theoretical work in identifying a set of relationships is reported.
   Finally, the implications, benefits, and possible applications of such a set of relationships are discussed.
Keywords: Hypertext, Navigation, Link-types, Text comprehension
Combining Systems and Manuals BIBAK 479-488
  Harold Thimbleby
Like many interactive systems, hypertext is operated by button pressing. It is therefore possible to combine an interactive system with its own hypertext manual. Numerous advantages follow: adaptive intelligent interactive help; correct documentation, in natural or mathematical language; automatic generation of conventional manuals optimised for various tasks; and detailed analysis.
   This paper motivates the approach, and describes a representative system, Hyperdoc. Hyperdoc enables research questions about good user interfaces and good user manuals to be investigated.
Keywords: Hypertext, Manuals, Finite state machines