Monday Sep 17, 2012

A New Experience

So a couple of weeks ago, after a fraction over 12 years, I bade farewell to the Solaris Desktop team to join the team whose blog you're reading now: Oracle's Systems Experience Design team, known internally as sxDesign, which has a wider but still largely Solaris-focused usability remit.1

There's been a good deal of overlap and collaboration between the two teams over the years anyway, so it's not exactly a step into the unknown. The elders among you might remember a GNOME 1.4 usability study I presented at GUADEC in 2001, for example, which was primarily the handiwork of a previous incarnation of sxDesign… I pretty much just turned up at the end to steal the glory for the Desktop team. In your face, people I'm going to be working with now!2

1 A move I was first approached about making in about 2003, I think… who says I'm rubbish at making snap decisions?

2 I'm not really. They all left years ago.

Friday Mar 11, 2011

Now that I've Installed Java, What do I do?

Consumers will eventually go through the experience of installing Java on their computer.  Some of the situations that trigger this activity are:
  • The computer they bought has Java pre-installed, and now there's a security update they want to get
  • The user wants to play a game (or use a banking app, file their taxes, etc.) that requires Java, and their computer doesn't have it, or has an old version.
  • Somehow they are told to install Java (perhaps an application that they use at work will need it).
Our current Java installer is really a "one size fits all" solution.  Although the situations are quite different, the user will eventually see the same set of installer panels.  The experience leading up to the installer launch is the only way we have to cater to the differences.

In the future, we are developing an installer that is more flexible and can be tailored to the specific scenarios where Java needs to be installed or updated.  This will streamline the experience so that installing Java will be easier.

You'll notice a new layout, simpler text and an overall cleaner look.  Where in some situations you would previously see a progress indicator before the installer Welcome panel was shown, you won't have to wait for that part of the download any more as it will occur while you're looking at the Welcome panel.

Once the Java installation has completed, the browser refreshes to a page that will verify that the various components of the Java platform are hooked up correctly.  Or, if you were installing Java because something on the page requested it, then the browser will show the desired Java content.

If you look around the web, there are examples of functionality that are implemented in Java because of it's unique power and flexibility -- or just because it's fun!  Some examples that I've found are:
Take a look around the web and let us know what Java content you find.  And let us know how your experience installing and using Java goes.  We really do read those comments that are entered through the little +/- icon on the lower right corner of the browser window!

Thursday Nov 19, 2009

Prague World Usability Day 2009

Just a few words about 5th Prague World Usability Day. This year, we have almost filled the capacity of the cinema, we had 290 registered visitors! We didn't use the official theme of the event (sustainability), we put together topics focused mainly on case studies.

Jakub Franc was the conference MC.  During the intro, I've presented highlights from the first year of Prague ACM SIGCHI operating as an official non-profit organization: we have 45 paying members, more than 300 people in our mailing list, we organized 8 talks and 4 trainings, and we evangelized UX on major local conferences (for example WebExpo). The second short talk was from Michal Horava, who presented the first local HCI book, which consists from several articles from different authors (including myself and Jakub).

The keynote was given by Tjeerd Hoek from FrogDesign, focused on innovations, design processes and convergence of hardware and software.

After that, there was a presentation from Adam Fendrych and Tomas Blaha about their experience of using eyetracking device during redesign of local finance website

The third talk was from the local Czech Technical University in Prague. They've presented first outcomes from Sun Center of Excellence focused on accessibility of RIA.

The last two talks were from Peter Korn and Theofanis OIkonomou focused on EU funded accessibility projects AEGIS and Accessible.

Slides, audio and more information about the conference (in Czech) is on our website

See you in Prague again on November 11, 2010!


Friday Oct 09, 2009

Java ME Usability Study

The Prague xDesign team and Usability labs conducted a usability study for Java ME SDK. Read the product teams blog  to learn more about what they thought of the experience (and dont miss the pictures :) 

Sunday Jun 14, 2009

JavaOne 2009: Thoughts from an Interaction Designer

JavaOne 2009 was a terrific event for developers.  Great engineers in the field presented their work and gave the attendees information on the latest Java developments. Vendors of Java frameworks, tools and other useful stuff were showing their wares in the Pavilion. Lots of new stuff like the Java Store, JavaFX 1.2 and JavaEE 6 was announced.

I've been attending JavaOne since Y2K and have learned a lot about both the platform and the developers who rely on it to get their job done.

Here's a blog entry from Karen Stanley, a member of the Java user experience design team who has just attended JavaOne for the first time.

And just for fun, here's my picture with Duke.Jeff and Duke at JavaOne 2009

Wednesday Jun 03, 2009

Deploying Java and JavaFX Consumer Applications

Jeff Hoffman

Jeff Hoffman is the lead user experience designer for Java Standard Edition.

JavaOne 2009 is here...

Last night the entire user experience team on Java and JavaFX gathered to discuss what we do with some of the attendees at our Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) session.

Tonight, we have a second BOF that is focused on deploying consumer applications through the web using Java and JavaFX.  For those interested, the slide presentation is available here.

Now it's back to the show...

Thursday May 21, 2009

Participate in Design at JavaOne 2009

Jeff Hoffman

Jeff Hoffman is the lead user experience designer for Java Standard Edition.

Hey There! JavaOne 2009 is almost here... The center of amazing developer activity will be the Moscone Center in San Francisco from June 2nd to 5th. Most of the exhibits and sessions highlight technology and the tools-of-the-trade for the Java developer set, however there is definitely content that is of interest to user experience designers.

I've made a list below of those sessions that are hosted by folks I know and respect. I heartily recommend checking them out. Make sure to add the ones you want to attend to your Schedule Builder since I expect that it may be hard to get in at the last minute.

I'm Speaking At JavaOne

Of course, there are the BOFs that I and my designer cohorts are hosting. We want to engage developers in an open discussion on user experience issues, help answer questions and provide pointers to useful resources.

I'm looking forward to seeing you at JavaOne 2009! Stop by the Designing the User Experience pod in the Pavilion to say hello, and come to one or both of the BOFs listed above.

Sunday Feb 01, 2009

Hamburg World Usability Day 2008 - Webcasts

The webcasts from World Usability Day 2008 in Hamburg have been posted. [All presentations were held in German.]


Matthias Müller-Prove is a User Experience Architect for Desktop Virtualization at Sun. Sometimes he blogs at Acetylcholinesterase –  sometimes not.

Monday Jan 26, 2009

Opening of Center of Excellence Focused on Accessibility and Usability in Prague

xDesign cooperates with Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU) for more than 5 years. For example in 2004, we have opened first local usability lab, from 2005 we organize every year local World Usability Day and also recently we cooperate together on local chapter of Prague ACM SIGCHI.

Czech Technical University is one from the oldest technical universities in the world, established in 1707. Computer science department was established in 1964. The department has long term experience in the field of accessibility and cooperation on European Union projects. Recently, since the part of the department dedicated to computer graphics, HCI and accessibility is still growing, was a new department established: Department of computer graphics and interaction.

Sun Center of Excellence is an official framework for cooperation with universities. There is an official contract signed with description of work and deliverables, usually for 3 years. This one, with CTU, is for accessibility and usability in the area of development of applications (web, desktop, mobile). All results will be open sourced.

The official opening was on December 9th done by Peter Korn and Pavel Suk (director of Sun Prague Engineering Center) and the dean of the faculty Prof. Frantisek Vejrazka.


More pictures:

We closed the day in the atmosphere of accessibility in the restaurant "Pod kridlem noci", where you eat in complete darkness and you are served by blind waiters. Definitely interesting experience!

Wednesday Jan 21, 2009

Prague World Usability Day 2008

As every year, we were co-organizers of Prague World Usability Day. Theme for this year was "transportation". We had about 130 registered attendees.

In the beginning, we have introduced new form of local SIGCHI chapter: non-profit organization Prague ACM SIGCHI.
There were 3 talks in the morning: first one from Jan Kleindienst (IBM Research) about Voice User Interfaces, second one from Roman Schubert (Skoda Auto) about usage of Virtual Reality during process of car design and from Jakub Franc (Sun Microsystems) and Jan Vystrcil (Czech Technical University) about project focused on navigation of blind people in interiors.

In the afternoon there were 3 excursions: in the Virtual Reality Lab of Czech Technical University, Cave of Czech Technical University and Usability Lab in Sun Microsystems. After the excursions, who registered soon enough, could attend one from 3 trainings: UI Bloopers, Interviews & Surveys and Usability testing of webs.


More pictures:

It was definitely great day!

Monday Jan 12, 2009

Day 2 at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show

I'm now back from Las Vegas and the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show is history.  Below are some photos from Day 2 (Friday January 9).  More photos from Day 2 are available in this online album.

There really wasn't a lot of cool new stuff at this year's show.  Since this is the first time I've ever been at CES, I'm basing this statement not only on my own observations but also conversations with conference alumni.  Many of the manufacturers were demonstrating improvements on energy consumption, as well as other devices to save energy. 

This is truly a hardware show, so there was little software to be seen.  Big names like HP and Sony demonstrated some of their software (for example, the appropriately named Sony Vegas Movie Studio), as well as online services for photo sharing and backup. Video editing and DVD authoring software provider Nero was showing their latest software to bring TiVo to your desktop.

Sony, RCA and others debuted some inexpensive (less than $200) pocket HD video cameras aimed at bloggers.  They are small, lightweight and colorful -- focused on function and not overloaded with a lot of features.

There was also a large exhibit area devoted to automotive technology.  It almost looked like the auto show...  And I've never seen as many Ford Flex crossover SUVs in one place -- certainly not on the road...  But it seems they are a good platform for demonstrating automotive accessories.

Lastly, I have never seen so many ways to display flat screen televisions in my life.

Samsung brought ex-49er Ronnie Lott for a guest appearance and photo op...

 You can also view my previous posting, CES Day 1,  for more pictures.  

Friday Jan 09, 2009

2009 Consumer Electronics Show - Day 1

Greetings from CES in Las Vegas!

The city is buzzing with activity, and the entire convention center, as well as a couple of hotel convention centers are filled with exhibits.  I just want to share some of the photos I took on Thursday (January 8).  You can see more photos at my CES Day 1 Album.


There is definitely a focus on design here -- both of the products and the booths.

More later...

Tuesday Dec 09, 2008

mother of all demos

Flyer to Doug Engelbart's Presentation 1968

December 9, today, 40 years ago in 1968 Doug Engelbart presented NLS to the public. NLS was a system named after the literal meaning of being on-line with the computer – the oN-Line System – where “on-line” was not used with the sense of today to have a system connected to the Internet. There was no Internet yet. The meaning of on-line in the 1960s was to use the machine interactively! For Engelbart's Augmentation Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute this was made possible by the use of one of the first time-sharing computers.

The presentation at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco at December 9, 1968 is often referred to as “the mother of all demos”. Doug Engelbart and his team presented the mouse, windows, interactive text editing, video conferencing and hypertext capabilities of NLS. A kind of magic and religious moment, as Alan Kay recalls.

Here are some excerpts from Vision and Reality of Hypertext and Graphical User Interfaces:

And finally I have some compelling interview clips for you, and of course the original recording from 1968:

Matthias Müller-Prove is a User Experience Architect for Desktop Virtualization at Sun. Sometimes he blogs here – sometimes at Acetylcholinesterase.

Friday Dec 05, 2008

Friday Fun with JavaFX

One of the -very- interesting things about working with JavaFX is that it gives us the ability to build applets (or widgets, if you will) that live in the browser, but can be "torn out" of the browser and plopped into the desktop. Here is a picture of me draging one of the FX samples out of the browser and on to my desktop.

[Use IE7+ and FF3+ and visit the dragable MP3 player sample or  this sample]


Its a very interesting exercise to think of the apps that you are building, and see what this would do for you. Perhaps it lets you build a website and get a desktop version for free. If you were building twitter :), your users could come to, drag the client on to their desktops and now they  have a running instance of a  desktop client. Nice! One thing I would love to get is a little ink dropper like gadget that I could drag to any part of my screen to get a color value. 

As a potential end-user I also like that I can go to some page of my bookmarked widgets and tear away the ones I want for that day or that session.

 As a designer, its really something fun to play with and imagine. What are you building these days, and if it could live on the browser or on the desktop, what cool things would that do for you? What new apps do you think should get built leveraging this capability, to make our lives easier and our fun funner :)><br /></p> 
  <p> </p>

    <div class=

Permanent link to this entry | Comments [3]

Sunday Nov 16, 2008

Software Design and Entertainment Value

Jeff HoffmanJeff Hoffman is the lead user experience designer working on Java Standard Edition and JavaFX. He's been designing both consumer and developer oriented products since before the boom.

Last night I went to the movies with some friends.  We saw Changeling, a powerful piece set in late 1920's Los Angeles about a woman whose little boy disappears.  Afterwards I started thinking about the parallels between movie making and software design.  I feel that software applications can be designed so that the user enjoys the experience, even if they are performing work-related tasks. 

movie tixGoing to see a movie in a theater is an experience that you expect to enjoy.  Your choice of movie will definitely affect the result,  but in general, it's a time that you are socializing with friends, eating junk food and kicking back to watch a story unfold on the screen.  No matter what kind of story (suspense, horror, comedy, drama), you are going to the movie to gain entertainment value. Similarly, starting up computer software is an action that you perform to gain value. It could be starting up your browser to check online e-mail, or bringing up a spreadsheet program to analyze your financials.

Certainly there are detractors to seeing a movie in a theater (and hence the popularity of home theater systems, which have their own issues as well).  There are the expected issues such as finding the theater, securing a parking space and waiting in line to buy tickets.  Then there are the unexpected problems like denial of your credit card, the movie you wanted to see has sold out and the person in front of you with the annoyingly bright mobile device. On the software side, there are lots of things that interfere with the achievement of the your desired goal and enjoyment of it's use. Examples include poor performance, confusing instructions, unexpected errors and inaccurate results. How often do you select an action that you think will do what you want, only to find out that it doesn't, and it takes minutes (or longer) for you to return to productivity? 

clapperAfter we've gotten past all the expectations and disappointments, we consider how the movie is crafted.  Since it's telling a story, the movie needs a beginning, a middle and an end.  The beginning sets up the characters, time and location.  It gives you just enough context to understand what comes next (usually, though there are exceptions like Memento).  The middle of the movie is where all the really interesting stuff happens.  And the end of the movie is where everything is neatly tied together (though explicit loose ends are kept around for possible sequels).  This way you can go home with the whole story, and you feel complete.

You can think about software in a similar way.  When you start a piece of software, it should provide you with the appropriate context to begin performing tasks that will achieve your goal.  This can be an obvious "Start Here" action, or a workspace that contains items of interest.  For example, if you're creating a home movie to share with folks, you might want a timeline, a way to get at your video clips and a place to see your interim results.  Once the context is set, you can begin the real creative work, for example arranging clips, adding transitions and titles and adjusting the sound levels.  At the end of this process, you're ready to share your work, so you package it up neatly and post it on your website.  You now feel as though you've completed your goal, and you are happy.

Save the Date
As we're in the final throws toward releasing JavaFX, I have realized that the entertainment value of this platform is going to be a key to its success.  An effort that my team and I have been spending a lot of time on has been designing sample applications to show off the capabilities of JavaFX 1.0 (along with the unbelievably productive Josh Marinacci).   Each of these samples needs to tell a story and must have an easy to understand beginning, middle and end.  Developers rely on the samples to get started, and to help them reach their goal of creating a compelling application.

So keep on the lookout for the launch of JavaFX 1.0, and check out the gallery of sample applications.  We hope that they will educate, as well as provide some entertainment value!


xDesign is a software user experience design group at Sun.
Follow us on Twitter : Flickr : Blog (see feeds below)


« September 2016