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VII.3 May 2000
Page: 61
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Marisa Campbell

back to top  Making Use: Scenario-Based Design of Human-Computer Interactionss

John M. Carroll
MIT Press
ISBN: 0-262-03279-1

Today's information systems can oftentimes have unwanted effects on our activities. The reason for this is the software development process, which typically approaches the complexity of the design process via abstraction. In John Carroll's book, however, he shows how using scenarios can transform information systems design into something that is easier to learn and use.

Instead of treating designs as though putting pieces of a puzzle together, a scenario is a concrete story about use. A good example of a scenario can be found in the following: "a person turned on a computer; the screen displayed a button labeled Start; the person used the mouse to select the button." In other words, scenarios are useful in coordinating the central task of system development; this includes understanding people's needs, envisioning new activities and technologies, designing effective systems and software, and drawing general lessons from systems as they are developed and used. According to the author, scenario-based design "provides a framework for managing the flow of design activity and information in the task-artifact cycle. Scenario-based design provides a framework for managing the flow of design activity and information in the task-artifact cycle. Scenarios evoke task-oriented reflection in design work; they make human activity the starting point and the standard for design work. Scenarios help designers identify and develop correct problem requirements by being at once concrete and flexible. They help designers to see their work as artifacts-in-use, and through this focus to manage external constraints in the design process. Scenarios help designers analyze the varied possibilities afforded by their designs through many alternative views of usage situations. And scenarios help designers cumulate their knowledge and experience in a rubric of task-oriented abstractions." Furthermore, scenarios allow the designer to focus first on the activities that need to be supported and then allows descriptions of those activities to drive everything else.

Besides a comprehensive discussion of scenario-based design principles, the book also offers in-depth examples of the its application.

bullet.gif About the author:

John M. Carroll is Professor of Computer Science, Education, and Psychology, and Director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech. He is the author of The Nurnberg Funnel, the editor of Minimalism Beyond the Nurnberg Funnel and Scenario-Based Design: Envisioning Work and Technology in System Development, and co-editor of Design Rationale: Concepts, Methods and Techniques.

back to top  Programming the Perl DBI Alligator Descartes & Tim Bunce

ISBN 1-56592-699-4

Database-independent programming is becoming increasingly essential as the Web moves from brochure-ware to database-driven applications. Utilizing the strength of Perl programming language's ability to manipulate huge amounts of data, the Perl Database Interface—also known as Perl DBI—links the Perl programming language and virtually any type of database.

With the many uses of the Perl DBI, developers can program database applications to interface with different drivers. They can also reuse code written for one database for another database, and they can even use the same interface with all of the most popular databases—even different databases simultaneously.

In Descartes and Bunce's book, novices to DBI can learn about its architecture and are shown how to write DBI-based programs. For those who are experienced DBI users, the book explains the nuances of DBI and the peculiarities of each individual DBD.

"The DBI is a database interface module for Perl," says Bunce, the architect and inventor of DBI. "It defines a set of methods, variables and conventions that provide a consistent database interface dependent on the actual database being used."

Descartes, one of the most active members of the DBI community says, "I had been one of the first serious DBI users and also the first person—other than Tim—to develop drivers for the DBI. Much of that experience and knowledge from those activities made me think documenting the DBI would be useful."

"We wanted to help people get the most out of the DBI by providing an accurate, clear, and helpful guide," says Bunce. "I'm hopeful that our book will become the standard text for the DBI.

back to top  Volume 6B, Motif Reference Manual, 2nd Edition

Anthony Fountain & Paula Ferguson
ISBN 1-56592-654-4

The second edition of the Motif Reference Manual covers Motif 2.1, the latest release of Motif and includes:

  • Reference pages for the widget classes, which describes the widget's functionality, including its new and inherited resources, callback routines, and translations.
  • Documentation on all of the Motif functions and macros that create and manipulate widgets and other Motif data types, such as compound strings and render tables.
  • Reference material for the Motif Window Manager
  • Descriptions of all the data types used by Motif functions.

"Motif 2.1 offers an extended range of components which provide a consistent user interface, whether in terms of overall appearance and behavior, inter-component navigability, or data transfer," says Anthony Fountain, co-author of the book. "The components are rich in configurability, either from the programmer or the user perspective."

Motif is the only native toolkit for Unix that supports large scale internationalized applications; it also provides a complete set of widgets: buttons, scroll bars, menus and dialog boxes—all of which are used to develop graphical user interfaces. "The Motif widget set offers the most feature-complete solution," says Fountain.

This book has been designed to be used in conjunction with Volume 6A, Motif Programming Manual—a manual that describes how to build applications using the Motif toolkit and provides a complete tutorial with programming examples.

back to top  Book Listing

GUI Bloopers Don'ts and Do's for Software Developers and Web Designers
Jeff Johnson
Morgan Kaufman Publishers, 2000
ISBN 1-55860-582-7

The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
Jef Raskin
Addison Wesley Publishers, 2000
ISBN 0-201-37937-6

The Complete Internet & World Wide Web Programming Training Course, 1/e
Harvey Deitel and Paul Deitel
Prentice Hall PTR Business Publishing, 2000
ISBN 0-13-085611-8

Introduction to Data Compression, 2nd Edition
Khalid Sayood
Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 2000
ISBN 1-55860-558-4

MICO: An Open Source CORBA Implementation
Arno Puder and Ray Römer
Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 2000
ISBN 1-55860-666-1

Oracle Forms Interactive Workbook, 1/e
Baman Motivala
Prentice Hall PTR Business Publishing, 2000
ISBN 0-13-015808-9

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©2000 ACM  1072-5220/00/0500  $5.00

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The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 2000 ACM, Inc.

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