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 Mar 07, 2008

Triumphs: The JavaCAPS6 Installer

Loren Mack is a design architect in xDesign who creates strategic and tactical designs for the Service Oriented Architecture/Business Integration group at Sun.

Somewhere around 5 years ago the SOA/BI Group (known then as SeeBeyond) created a new user experience around installing their products. It was designed with the system administrator in mind, however may misconceptions about these folks caused the installation process to be hugely cumbersome. I'm not EVEN kidding. And "No", it was not the product of any UI designer, Guerrila or otherwise.

The old process went something like this:

1. Download the installation file from the build-site.
2. Run the installation .BAT file (tweaking the run scripts for your environment.
3. Run the product core server (known as the repository).

4. Go back to the build site and download about 30 files, each of which was an individual "product", and each of which was required to really get the suite working.
5. Upload each of these files into the repository, one at a time.
6. Download the actual user Client application (now possible with the 30 files uploaded).
7. Unzip this file somewhere on your local drive (tweaking run scripts).

8. Find the right .BAT file and start the client.
9. Go to one of (only) 2 pull down menu options and "Update" the client from the repository.
10. Exit, and then restart the client.

You've completed the installation, and this process took around 3-8 hours depending on where you were and what you wanted installed as far as products went. It also could not run unattended.

So for those of us working in development, testing the product, this was a huge waste of time. One particularly skilled developer wrote an eMail which estimated the time spent installing new builds was about 1 day per work week, per employee. That means an 80% maximum capacity for productivity per person.

So with all that in mind, today I am delighted to report this has changed. It's now very much like what I had been pushing for over the past 5 years, and I'd like to express my thanks and congratulations to the team for doing this right. And just for comparison, here's how the new install process works:

1. Download the installation file from the build-site.
2. Run the installer (I took the defaults).
3. Run the repository (using the handy-dandy shortcut).
4. Run the client (using the other handy-dandy shortcut).

You are now done. It takes about 8 minutes (my own personal test). Simple, elegant, and usable.

So, I'd like to personally thank Jason Weinstein - the developer (previously mentioned) for creating the "installer done right".

Kudos to you Jason!


xDesign is a software user experience design group at Sun.
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