Inductive User Interfaces

Within the last few months a form of UI development has been growing on me, it is called Inductive User Interfaces. 

Here is a link to some guidelines Microsoft wrote up on them:

It appears Microsoft is moving their consumer products in the direction of adopting a hybrid of IUI and a task based metaphor.  What strikes me as pretty neat about this model is you are trying to convey to the user/consumer a list of choices and what the expected outcome those choices will have with regard to the task they are trying to perform.  Instead of just providing a textbox and giving a brief ‘username/password’ = identifier in front of it, you describe where you can get that information, how it was suppose to come into your possession.  Maybe even a couple examples of acceptable looking input.

What do you all think? Is it a good idea or bad idea?

Various versions of Microsoft Money seem to have noticed reduced support calls and overall improved customer satisfaction after switching over to the model.

—– Rom

BOINC Manager goals

Occasionally I’m hit up with the question, “Why doesn’t BOINC Manager expose this feature or that feature?”

Well, quite simply, the goals for BOINC Manager are:

  1. Provide a simple interface that works well for controlling BOINC on the local machine.
  2. Be cross-platform compatible.

Now a feature that made it in and doesn’t conform to the goals above is the ability to control a remote computer.  We put that in mostly to show off the GUI RPCs and provide ourselves with an easy way to make sure we didn’t take to many liberties with assuming needed files would be local.  An exception would be the gui_rpc_auth.cfg file which is in need of some help to deal with custom ports and the like.

We knew we weren’t going to be able to make everybody happy with just one way to present the UI, and each group of users presented their own challenges.  For instance, somebody new to distributed computing would need to know what the various fields in the UI mean, while old hats would just consider it clutter.

We need to get to the point where we have a tweak-able UI.  Something that can start out being pretty verbose in the beginning, and can be made more spartan in nature when the user doesn’t need as much hand holding.

—– Rom

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