Shift from Legacy system to web UI interface application

28 Feb 2008 - 6:01am
6 years ago
5 replies
1006 reads
Rony Philip
2007

Hi,

Can anyone guide me in understanding, what are the key factors to be
considered while redesigning a legacy (green screen) application to a web UI
interface application?. Especialy with reagards to task flows, forms and
the toggle between keyboard and mouse.

Sorry if this topic as already been discussed, maybe someone can provide me
the thread.

Thanks a ton!
Rony

Comments

28 Feb 2008 - 8:48am
Ari
2006

data entry speed is one of the prime advantages of green screen apps.

web apps don't really excel at this due to their emphasis on mouse-based
input.

i'd focus on building in lots of key-based redundancy for common tasks such
as tabbing between fields, etc.

also, web forms can reduce many green screen menus, which can speed certain
tasks and eliminate others.

another challenge you'll have is the fact that green screen apps are
'single-tasking' - they assume control over the entire environment whereas
web apps run insider a browser with limited control over state on an OS that
can have multiple windows open.

you'll have devise some interesting ways of keeping the user's focus on the
task while still allowing them to maintain efficiency.

On Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 6:01 AM, Rony Philip <philiprony at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi,
>
> Can anyone guide me in understanding, what are the key factors to be
> considered while redesigning a legacy (green screen) application to a web
> UI
> interface application?. Especialy with reagards to task flows, forms and
> the toggle between keyboard and mouse.
>
> Sorry if this topic as already been discussed, maybe someone can provide
> me
> the thread.
>
> Thanks a ton!
> Rony
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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28 Feb 2008 - 7:48pm
Gloria Petron
2007

Rony,
These are some books I've read or am currently reading that directly relate
to what you're about to get into.

- For creating good forms and managing documentation:
Robert Hoeckman Jr., *Designing the
Obvious*<http://www.amazon.com/Designing-Obvious-Common-Approach-Application/dp/032145345X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1204245575&sr=8-1>
- For taming office politics and keeping the product focused:
Indi Young, *Mental
Models*<http://www.amazon.com/Mental-Models-Aligning-strategy-behavior/dp/1933820063/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1204245607&sr=8-1>
- For dealing with the difficult situations you're going to encounter
if your IT team is grounded in green-screen apps:
David Platt, *Why Software Sucks and What You Can Do About
It<http://www.amazon.com/Why-Software-Sucks-What-About/dp/0321466756/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1204245668&sr=8-1>
.*

That's a lot of reading, but I read Robert's book in a weekend. I haven't
even gotten through the first chapter of Indi Young's book but I've already
gotten enough of the concept (and I attended her virtual seminar last week)
that I intend to try it in my next project. David's book is comic relief
backed up by solid insight.

Personal lessons I've learned from doing several green-screen-to-web app
conversions for a big corporation:

1. RESEARCH.
This is when good people skills come in really handy. Find a couple of
people who are the end users, give them fair warning that you may be
spending LOTS of time with them, and then stick on 'em like a reality-show
camera crew. You don't always get the opportunity to do this, so if you've
got that chance, recognize it for the gold that it is. It's a great way to
get to know people.

2. User task flows rock.
These are the best way I've found for flushing out unexpected surprises and
getting a true screen count, which in turn helps you develop a realistic
project schedule. There have been times when I've skipped this step, and
I've always regretted it later.

3. Just because they're I.T. doesn't mean they know web.
Perhaps my first and biggest mistake. I came to the bank assuming that
financial green-screen IT guys would be able to do all the same stuff as
dotcom programmers. That doesn't mean there isn't a willingness to try, but
be prepared to deal with some serious management-of-expectation issues.

4. Do not be alarmed by white space.
You do not need to fill every inch of space in order to convince someone
they're getting their money's worth. Where I work, it's actually the
marketing and business teams that are the most guilty of this; user research
is the crucifix for this particular vampire.

5. Prototypes, baby.
People -includes programmers- are visual creatures, and prototypes visually
communicate goals better than a 300-page requirements doc. Also, conducting
usability sessions on clickable prototypes and recording those sessions with
Morae is a powerful method for fast, iterative design.

Hope this helps! Please let me know if I can help you in any other way.
-Gloria

28 Feb 2008 - 7:59pm
Chauncey Wilson
2007

Hello Rony,

Legacy applications may not be the most aesthetic, but they are often
quite efficient and when moving from legacy to GUI or WUI (Web user
interface), keeping the efficiency can be quite a challenge. If you
are looking at applications like order-entry or financial apps where
people are working with forms and data all day, then you might
consider minizing keyboard-mouse transitions (those are slow), examine
workflow and optimal layout of required and optional fields. For the
highest frequency operations, it might be useful to gather some
baseline data for comparison. Youl could also use the GOMS
Keystroke-level modeling to compare different designs for your Web
interface. The GOMS KLM is quite powerful for doing relative
comparisons and examining expert usage.

I went through this in the early 1990s when legacy moved to Windows
and for those will admit it, the first Windows versions of legacy app
were often worse than the legacy app even if they "looked more
usable". Here is a note that I wrote in respone to a question like
yours in the STC Usability SIG newsletter in 1998.

By Chauncey Wilson, edited by Robi Gunn
Reprinted from Usability Interface, Vol 4, No. 4, April 1998
http://www.stcsig.org/usability/newsletter/9804-character2gui.html

Chauncey

On Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 6:01 AM, Rony Philip <philiprony at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi,
>
> Can anyone guide me in understanding, what are the key factors to be
> considered while redesigning a legacy (green screen) application to a web UI
> interface application?. Especialy with reagards to task flows, forms and
> the toggle between keyboard and mouse.
>
> Sorry if this topic as already been discussed, maybe someone can provide me
> the thread.
>
> Thanks a ton!
> Rony
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

1 Mar 2008 - 11:47pm
Trip O'Dell
2007

Hi Rony -

Hi,

"Can anyone guide me in understanding, what are the key factors to
be considered while redesigning a legacy (green screen) application
to a web UI interface application?."

That's an intriguing question, but I'm not sure its the right one.
What does the application currently do? What's the advantage in
moving it to the web? How could the new application grow to be more
valuable to the customer than the old (as opposed to just a
replacement for existing technology). If the customer has held on to
the system this long, they're either really cheap, or the existing
system is a critical part of their business. This means the existing
users can already tell you their main likes and dislikes about the
system. If you start with the existing users, what they like and
dislike about existing workflows specifically and their job more
generally you'll have a pretty good idea of where to start with
porting the functionality over to the new system.

As for the technology, I'm not sure what the requirements are, but
there are a lot of emerging solutions that allow the flexibility of a
desktop app with the convenience of a web App. (Check out Adobe
Flex/AIR or Google Gears) You may want to consider something like
this over a straight up web app (which only work when connected to
the web/network).

The advantage of this sort of approach is that it would allow you to
adapt the application to different types of devices and form factors
depending on the user task - consoles, hand held, lap top, sensor
system. Also, these applications can work in a "sometimes
connected" environment, storing data locally and then posting to the
server when its available - a good solution for a warehouse or
something where wireless can be problematic. Just a thought.

Especialy with reagards to task flows, forms and the toggle between
keyboard and mouse.

Sorry if this topic as already been discussed, maybe someone can
provide me the thread.

Thanks a ton!
Rony

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=26622

2 Mar 2008 - 2:09am
Rony Philip
2007

Hi Trip,

Thanks a lot for your inputs and I cudn't agree more on what you have
mentioned. Its really important to conduct a contextual study to understand
the users and their environment. Plus understand the strategy or business
logic behind the change from legacy to web.

With respect to this application, currently the development team has created
the following. The application is a data entry form, where the first page is
a table list with data rows. When users need to view/edit one or multiple
rows, they can select the rows and click view/edit. This will open up the
view/edit form for the first selected row and once finished the user clicks
next it will got to the next page and so on.

Thanks again,
Rony

On Sat, 1 Mar 2008 20:47:00, Trip O'Dell <tripodell at mac.com> wrote:
>
> Hi Rony -
>
> Hi,
>
> "Can anyone guide me in understanding, what are the key factors to
> be considered while redesigning a legacy (green screen) application
> to a web UI interface application?."
>
> That's an intriguing question, but I'm not sure its the right one.
> What does the application currently do? What's the advantage in
> moving it to the web? How could the new application grow to be more
> valuable to the customer than the old (as opposed to just a
> replacement for existing technology). If the customer has held on to
> the system this long, they're either really cheap, or the existing
> system is a critical part of their business. This means the existing
> users can already tell you their main likes and dislikes about the
> system. If you start with the existing users, what they like and
> dislike about existing workflows specifically and their job more
> generally you'll have a pretty good idea of where to start with
> porting the functionality over to the new system.
>
> As for the technology, I'm not sure what the requirements are, but
> there are a lot of emerging solutions that allow the flexibility of a
> desktop app with the convenience of a web App. (Check out Adobe
> Flex/AIR or Google Gears) You may want to consider something like
> this over a straight up web app (which only work when connected to
> the web/network).
>
> The advantage of this sort of approach is that it would allow you to
> adapt the application to different types of devices and form factors
> depending on the user task - consoles, hand held, lap top, sensor
> system. Also, these applications can work in a "sometimes
> connected" environment, storing data locally and then posting to the
> server when its available - a good solution for a warehouse or
> something where wireless can be problematic. Just a thought.
>
>
>
>
> Especialy with reagards to task flows, forms and the toggle between
> keyboard and mouse.
>
> Sorry if this topic as already been discussed, maybe someone can
> provide me the thread.
>
> Thanks a ton!
> Rony
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=26622
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

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