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Specific GUI Features

This page examines the use of specific GUI objects available when authoring an EASAP and point out potential problems with their use.

Unnatural Layout

This issue goes back to having a good conceptual design first and putting things in groupings and orders that make sense to users. The order in which objects are placed on the EASAP tree is completely under the control of authors. Additionally, the use of SUB PANE's to organize and group objects is also up to the author.

Example of unnatural layout of GUI components:

Example of a more natural layout for the same GUI components:

The figures above illustrate the impact you can have on the layout by showing an obviously unnatural layout and a more natural layout, respectively. Notice the use of sub-panes in the second figure to group together the ‘Plate Dimensions’ and the ‘Edge Support Conditions’.

Misuse of Logic Boxes

Logicboxes should be used only for settings with TRUE or FALSE, YES or NO, or ON or OFF choices. The problem that can arise is that users will not fully understand the consequences of their actions. To illustrate this point, see the figure below for an example of poor Logicbox usage. When looking at this example, the question arises, ‘What will be the plate color when the box is not checked?’ A choice list of available colors even if there are only two available would be a better object to use here. The user would then get to see what color other than ‘Red’ can be used on the plate.

Overusing Text Boxes

Textboxes are open to spelling and typographical errors. If you must use them for inputs that feed directly into underlying software applications, then you should try to implement error checks that catch as many user errors as possible. The reason being is that if a user makes a mistake that isn’t detected and fixed before submitting the EASAP, the underlying software application probably won’t recognize the input and then won’t run properly. For details on creating error checks for text boxes, see the Error Check object. To be safe, where possible, you should stick to data entry boxes, like choice lists and Logicboxes, with preset output.

Further Reading

Below you will find a list of books on the subject of user interface design.

Fowler, S. 1998. GUI Design Handbook. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Galitz, W. 1996. The Essential Guide to User Interface Design: an Introduction to GUI design principles and techniques. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Johnson, J. 2000. GUI Bloopers: Don’ts and Do’s for Software Developers and Web Designers. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

Weinshank, S., Jamar P., and Yeo, S. 1997. GUI Design Essentials. New York: John Wiley and Sons.