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IWC Tables of Contents: 0102030405060708091011121314

Interacting with Computers 4

Editors:Dan Diaper
Standard No:ISSN 0953-5438
Links:Table of Contents
  1. IWC 1992 Volume 4 Issue 1
  2. IWC 1992 Volume 4 Issue 2
  3. IWC 1992 Volume 4 Issue 3

IWC 1992 Volume 4 Issue 1

Animated Demonstrations for Exploratory Learners BIBAK 3-22
  Stephen J. Payne; Louise Chesworth; Elaine Hill
In an animated demonstration the device's display behaves as if the device were in use. We investigate the instructional potential of a 'pure' version of animated demonstrations, in which there is no commentary or supporting documentation for the animation. Such animations are heavily used in video games (such as PacMan), but are rarely seen in computer-based office systems, although modern designs allow them to be readily and meaningfully implemented.
   We report two experiments that test the efficacy of animated demonstrations as an aid to exploratory learning of the MacDraw graphics editor. The animated demonstration is simulated by playing a short, uncommented, silent video recording of the screen-in-use. Experiment 1 shows that this technique offers large learning advantages over a no-instruction condition, and is, in our limited experiment, as effective as text-based instruction. Experiment 2 replicates the main effect of Experiment 1, again revealing a significant positive effect of a short animated demonstration on first-time exploratory learners.
   A notable feature of uncommented animation demonstrations is that they do not offer a complete method specification for the performance of any tasks. In the face of this limitation, their success as instructions can perhaps best be understood in terms of psychological models of performance that do not demand complete cognitive encoding of plans or methods.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Animation, Instruction, Graphics editors
Motivation, Practice and Guidelines for 'Undoing' BIBAK 23-40
  Yiya Yang
An 'undo' capability is an interactive recovery facility provided by interfaces to enable users to reverse the effects of previously issued commands. The paper reviews the motivation offered in the literature for having such a facility; surveys existing practice in providing such a facility and formulates a set of guidelines based on a user-oriented research project to assist future practice in designing an undo capability for interfaces.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Interfaces, Undo support, Recovery, Interaction errors
Combining CSCW and User Support Techniques to Design Collaborative User Interfaces BIBAK 41-67
  Riitta Hellman
This paper is concerned with the complexities of collaboration and collaborative relations in organizations. Examples of coordinating communications are provided, and a case organization (case study) exemplifying the complexities of these communications is presented. It is argued that such complexities can be accommodated within computer-based systems, and some example user interfaces, based on the case organization and implemented in HyperCard, are presented to illustrate this point. The first example is of electronic information media; the second a working role description; while the third provides an illustration of physical workspace. In connection with these, a visual orientation vehicle for the example environment is sketched, and general structures for the design of such interfaces are provided. It is suggested that these types of interface can enhance existing forms of computer-mediated collaboration, as well as create new kinds of collaborative opportunity. Lastly, existing computer-supported cooperative work technologies are discussed as additional forms of user support that might be of use in the particular environment of the case organization.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Computer-supported cooperative work, User interface, Context support, HyperCard
Branching Selection of Suggestions BIBAK 68-82
  Joris Verrips
An on-screen editor has been developed that offers syntactically correct suggestions for words after the user has entered only the first letter. Branching selection operates on these suggestions to pick the correct word by using a specialized form of incremental matching. Part of the user interface; its evaluation; an essential part of its implementation; and an example of how the editor can be used are all offered by the paper.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Screen editor, Interface, Incremental matching
Formal Interactive Menu Design BIBAK 83-101
  Jacob Ukelson; Johann Makowsky
In this paper a formal model of menus for interactive systems is defined. The definition of such a formal model is an important addition to the engineering concepts that are generally stressed in papers dealing with user interfaces. The paper takes the simple concept of a menu and defines a mathematical model which allows rigorous mathematical handling of the concepts of menus, menu items and menu constructs. Even for such a simple and well-known concept in user interfaces, such rigorous handling is missing in much of the literature concerning user interfaces. As shown in the paper, the mathematical modelling of menus, while mathematically simple, allows insights into menu definition.
   The formal model allows the definition of a new concept of completeness which describes some minimum basic requirements for any menu design language. Based on this definition it is shown that certain menu constructs discussed in the literature do not explicitly meet these basic requirements and therefore may have limited value as building blocks for menu design.
   The model also provides dialogue designers with well defined terminology which allows simple definitions of the terms persistent menus, transient menus and user context. It also combines the benefits of other menu definition languages in the literature, and avoids their drawbacks.
   Finally, a menu design system based on these concepts is presented which allows easy definition of menu systems and their logic.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, User interface, Menu design, Dialogues
The Role of Task Analysis in Systems Design BIBAK 102-123
  David Benyon
Task analysis and systems analysis are both collections of techniques aimed at the development of interactive computer-based systems. Clearly there must be some relationship between them. However, since the techniques originate from different disciplines, practitioners in one area are not always clear about that has gone before in the other area. The paper addresses this problem.
   Task analysis clearly has an important role to play in various aspects of systems development. However it may also introduce bad practices which can be avoided if lessons are learnt from the experiences of systems analysis over the last two decades. An understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of systems analysis techniques enables the proper role of task analysis to be understood.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Systems analysis, Task analysis
Task Analysis and Systems Analysis for Software Development BIBAK 124-139
  Dan Diaper; Mark Addison
The paper offers a commentary on Benyon (1992). It questions the absence of a role for task analysis in the early stages of system development and attempts to refute many of Benyon's assumptions and criticisms concerning task analysis methods, at least by showing that his criticisms do not apply to all of them. The commentary also questions Benyon's systems analysis model for software development and suggests that it is unrealistic.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Task analysis, Systems analysis, Software development

IWC 1992 Volume 4 Issue 2

TripleSpace: An Experiment in a 3D Graphical Interface to a Binary Relational Database BIBAK 147-162
  John A. Mariani; Robert Lougher
Novel techniques of data visualization will be required to take full advantage of the advanced human-computer interaction technology now being developed as part of the virtual reality movement. In particular, meaningful three-dimensional representations will be of interest to users wishing to explore the data topology. An experimental system which offers a three-dimensional topology is presented in this paper; three sets of data representing interesting situations are described and viewed through the system.
Keywords: Data visualisation, Cyberspace, 3D graphical interfaces, Binary relational databases, Browsing
Microcomputer Version of a Digit Span Test in Clinical Use BIBAK 163-178
  Cristopher C. French; J. Graham Beaumont
At four clinical sites, 188 psychiatric patients were assessed with both the standard auditory verbal digit span test and a computerised visual digit span test requiring manual response. Correlations between the two test forms were comparable with other similar studies. Subjects obtained higher scores on the standard version than the computerized version, probably reflecting differences in the mode of presentation and the mode of response, but this difference was much less pronounced in those subjects receiving the standard version first rather than the computerized version first. It is clear that the computerized test cannot be considered to be psychometrically parallel to the standard WAIS subtest version, but it may still be of some clinical value.
Keywords: Computerized testing, Digit span, Clinical applications
Further Investigations into the Use of Colour Coding Scales BIBAK 179-199
  R. Flavell; A. Heath
The use of colour in computer-generated displays is increasingly common. This paper reports on controlled experiments into the quantitative use of colour using coding scales. Three experiments are described, investigating respectively:
  • The impact of the number of divisions in a perceptually uniform scale. This
       showed that errors increased as the numbers of divisions increased, but
       maximum information transfer actually occurred with about 10 divisions.
  • The feasibility of constructing scales with a constant spread of incorrect
       responses for any given stimulus. The overall findings were inconclusive
       although as a by-product it is statistically suggested that errors are
       exponentially rather than normally distributed.
  • The impact of a small number of perceptual discontinuities within an
       otherwise perceptually uniform scale. It was found that observers did not
       make response errors that crossed the discontinuities, however their error
       rate between discontinuities increased. Finally some applications are described.
    Keywords: Colour, Computer-generated displays, Scales
  • Shopfloor Attitudes Towards Advanced Manufacturing Technology: The Changing Focus of Industrial Conflict? BIBAK 200-208
      Keith Davids; Robin Martin
    The implementation of advanced manufacturing technology (AMT) in manufacturing organisations is increasing. In many cases the introduction of AMT has been associated with conflict between management and workers. This appears to be due to the potential for AMT to have a de-skilling effect upon job content and, in some instances, leading to job losses. In reality, fears concerning both these issues have reduced and consequently there has been a change away from conflict between management and workers to divisions amongst shopfloor operators. The paper explores some of the processes involved in this change within the context of an engineering case study. More specifically, it is shown that when AMT was introduced into a machining workshop, traditional conflict between management and operators was soon replaced by negative feelings between users and non-users of AMT. The implications of industrial relations suggest the need for more care and attention to the human side of work organisation when implementing new manufacturing technology.
    Keywords: Advanced manufacturing technology, Attitudes in the workplace, Industrial conflict
    Utility and Usability: Research Issues and Development Contexts BIBAK 209-217
      Jonathan Grudin
    It is notoriously difficult to separate the function of interactive software from its form, to draw a line between software functionality and its human-computer interface. Nevertheless, two research communities exist in the USA, one focused on information system functionality and organizational impact, the other on human-computer dialogues or 'user interfaces' to systems and applications. These communities largely draw from different systems development contexts: in-house or internal development and off-the-shelf product development, respectively. Each has its own core set of issues, theoretical constructs, and terminologies. The histories of these research and development communities are summarized, points of contact are identified, and their possible evolution is suggested.
    Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Interfaces, Software functionality
    Field Testing a Natural-Language Information System: Usage Characteristics and Users' Comments BIBAK 218-230
      Andrew S. Patrick; Thomas E. Whalen
    A field trial was conducted to test a natural-language technology developed by the authors (COMODA) and to dispense AIDS information to the public. This trial allowed users with computers and modems to dial-in to an AIDS information system and ask questions or browse through the information. The system received nearly 500 calls during a two month period. The calls lasted an average of 10 minutes and involved an average of 27 interactions between the user and the computer. Approximately 45% of the interactions were direct natural-language questions, and the COMODA system was quite successful in answering these questions. Also, the comments left by the users were extremely positive, with 96% of the users who rated the system giving it a positive rating. The users commented that the COMODA system was an easy-to-use method of accessing valuable AIDS information, and they would like to see the system expanded to cover more topic areas. The users also made useful suggestions on how the system could be improved. It was concluded that the COMODA system is a viable natural-language access system for presenting information to the public.
    Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Natural language processing, Information system
    Display Elements and Gaps: A Comparison of Flat Panel Display Characteristics BIBAK 231-245
      G. P. J. Spenkelink; J. Besuijen
    The relation between typical flat panel display characteristics and display quality was studied. Subjective preferences were obtained with respect to simulated black-on-white flat panel displays. The displays differed in the sort of separation between the display elements and the shape of these elements. Further, the height/width ratio of the front was studied in relation with a fixed font matrix. The preferences were obtained through a paired comparison of all possible pairs of simulated displays.
       The observers appeared to be sensitive and to respond to differences in the stimuli. It is not clear, however, if they responded to the type of gap and shape of display elements or to the luminance modulation, which co-varied with the two experimental factors. It can be concluded however that the integrity of the character area is important to the observers. Further, the usefulness of interactively designing spatial display characteristics and the font is discussed.
    Keywords: Display quality, Flat panel displays, Display standards, Design rules, Simulation
    Note: Errata for page 235 (Figures 2a and 2b were transposed) in IwC 4:3, p. 400.

    Author's Reply

    Task Analysis and System Design: The Discipline of Data BIB 246-259
      David Benyon

    IWC 1992 Volume 4 Issue 3

    Computer-Based Task Representation: A Methodology for Improving System Design BIBAK 267-288
      David Payne; Maxine Cohen; Richard Pastore
    Task analysis procedures can be used in all stages of system development to examine the nature and severity of performance demands placed upon human operators. Task analyses involve considerable effort in obtaining a detailed set of measurements that represent the behavioural and cognitive tasks performed by the operators; these measures are referred to as task representation. The present article describes a flexible method for incorporating task representation data into an electronic spreadsheet. Such a computer-based procedure has many advantages over the more traditional paper and pencil approaches to task representation and analysis, including greater flexibility in data analysis and the inclusion of both objective and subjective measures of workload. Portions of an illustrative task representation and task analysis are presented along with a discussion of the strengths of computer-based task representation and analysis.
    Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Task analysis, User interfaces, Task representation
    How Should Fitts' Law be Applied to Human-Computer Interaction? BIBAK 289-313
      Douglas J. Gillan; Kritina Holden; Susan Adam; Marianne Rudisill; Laura Magee
    The paper challenges the notion that any Fitts' Law model can be applied generally to human computer interaction, and proposes instead that applying Fitts' Law requires knowledge of the users' sequence of movements, direction of movement, and typical movement amplitudes as well as target sizes. Two experiments examined a text selection task with sequences of controlled movements (point-click and point-drag). For the point-click sequence, a Fitts' Law model that used the diagonal across the text object in the direction of pointing (rather than the horizontal extent of the text object) as the target size provided the best fit for the pointing time data, whereas for the point-drag sequence, a Fitts' Law model that used the vertical size of the text object as the target size gave the best fit. Dragging times were fitted well by Fitts' Law models that used either the vertical or horizontal size of the terminal character in the text object. Additional results of note were that pointing in the point-click sequence was consistently faster than in the point-drag sequence, and that pointing in either sequence was consistently faster than dragging. The discussion centres around the need to define task characteristics before applying Fitts' Law to an interface design or analysis, analyses of pointing and of dragging, and implications for interface design.
    Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Fitts' Law, Text editing, Interface design

    Special Issue on CSCW: Part 1

    Computer Support for Co-Operative Work BIB 314-316
      Tom Rodden; Dianne Murray
    Giving Undo Attention BIBAK 317-342
      Gregory D. Abowd; Alan J. Dix
    The problems associated with the provision of an undo support facility in the context of a synchronous shared or group editor are investigated. Previous work on the development of formal models of 'undo' has been restricted to single user systems and has focused on the functionality of undo, as opposed to discussing the support that users require from any error recovery facility. Motivated by new issues that arise in the context of computer supported co-operative work, the authors aim to integrate formal modelling of undo with an analysis of how users understand undo facilities. Together, these combined perspectives of the system and user lead to concrete design advice for implementing an undo facility. The special issues that arise in the context of shared undo also shed light on the emphasis that should be placed on single user undo. In particular, the authors regard undo not as a system command to be implemented, but as a user intention to be supported by the system.
    Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Undo support, Computer-supported co-operative work, Formal methods
    Locating Systems at Work: Implications for the Development of Active Badge Applications BIBAK 343-363
      R. H. R. Harper; M. G. Lamming; W. M. Newman
    The paper reports findings from a sociological examination of the use of 'active badge' location information systems in two research laboratories. The use, distribution and control of location information is examined in reference to the social roles individuals have in what will be called the 'moral order' of workplaces. Suggestions for subsequent versions of location systems are made, and the use of sociological methods in design remarked.
    Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Active badges, Location devices, Sociology
    Human and Technical Factors of Distributed Group Drawing Tools BIBAK 364-392
      Saul Greenberg; Mark Roseman; Dave Webster; Ralph Bohnet
    Groupware designers are now developing multi-user equivalents of popular paint and draw applications. Their job is not an easy one. First, human factors issues peculiar to group interaction appear that, if ignored, seriously limit the usability of the group tool. Second, implementation is fraught with considerable technical hurdles. This paper describes the human and technical factors that have been met and handled by researchers and implementors of group drawing tools. We emphasize our own experiences building four systems supporting remote real time group interaction: GroupSketch and XGroupSketch, both multi-user sketchpads; GroupDraw, a prototype object-based multi-user drawing package, and GroupKit, a groupware toolkit. On the human factors side, we summarize empirically-derived design principles that we believe are critical to building useful and usable collaborative drawing tools. On the implementation side, we describe our experiences with replicated versus centralized architectures, schemes for participant registration, multiple cursors, network requirements, and the structure of the drawing primitives. A brief survey of other approaches to group drawing is also included.
    Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Group drawing, Shared workspace, Real-time remote conferencing, Computer-supported cooperative work, Groupware