Workflow GUIs?

5 Apr 2006 - 1:53am
8 years ago
8 replies
512 reads
Mattias Ask4
2005

Hi,

I have a problem. I am working on a weblication where a workflow will be defined using a GUI. The problem is that the workflows will iterate and fork and we need a GUI that supports this. To top it of the weblication will be used by non-programmers who have no prior knowledge of what a fork or iteration is.

What I seek is inspiration. The only source of inspiration I have come up with so long is Lego Mindstorms, a product for 10-tear-old with no programming experience, which comes with a graphical programming language.

Does anyone know of any other UI where fork and iterations are made available for a user who may not know what a forks or iterations are?

Br,
Mattias Ask

Comments

5 Apr 2006 - 3:02am
Hegle Sarapuu
2005

Hi,

>> I am working on a weblication where a workflow will be defined using a GUI.

weblication means that you have to insert your workflow information thru forms.

>> To top it of the weblication will be used by non-programmers who have no prior knowledge of what a fork or iteration is.

Forget fork and iteration! Fork is mostly two or more task goes next to one task or tasks what are done same time. Iteration is when you go back and back and back except when some kind of condition is true then you go away.
You have to build that explanation into your system not only like text but also with your forms or order of filling forms/making choices.

Start at the beginning and go step by step. When users design workflow, they know what first step is and maybe what is next. And some point they know that they have to go back, then you have iteration. Only experience workflow designer knows at the beginning that these tasks make iteration together. If you have fork or we say it is multiple tasks at the same time or joining tasks.
After every step system should generate graphical view of all tasks what are inserted. Use explaining icons or pictures with ALT_text to show what kind of task it is. How you handle choices? Forks are far easier to handle.

Br,
Hegle

5 Apr 2006 - 10:06am
jrrogan
2005

Simple Design Solution for you:

Iterative - grid over form(s)
Fork - need more context

On 4/5/06, Hegle Sarapuu <hegle at interinx.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hi,
>
> >> I am working on a weblication where a workflow will be defined using a
> GUI.
>
> weblication means that you have to insert your workflow information thru
> forms.
>
> >> To top it of the weblication will be used by non-programmers who have
> no prior knowledge of what a fork or iteration is.
>
> Forget fork and iteration! Fork is mostly two or more task goes next to
> one task or tasks what are done same time. Iteration is when you go back and
> back and back except when some kind of condition is true then you go away.
> You have to build that explanation into your system not only like text but
> also with your forms or order of filling forms/making choices.
>
> Start at the beginning and go step by step. When users design workflow,
> they know what first step is and maybe what is next. And some point they
> know that they have to go back, then you have iteration. Only experience
> workflow designer knows at the beginning that these tasks make iteration
> together. If you have fork or we say it is multiple tasks at the same time
> or joining tasks.
> After every step system should generate graphical view of all tasks what
> are inserted. Use explaining icons or pictures with ALT_text to show what
> kind of task it is. How you handle choices? Forks are far easier to handle.
>
>
> Br,
> Hegle
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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>

5 Apr 2006 - 10:43am
Hegle Sarapuu
2005

Yes, grid is faster and easier way to enter lots of same kind of information. When I designed workflow functionality(much easier than it was discussed here), we made it interactive by form and filling information to the grid. (user made first some radio_button choises and then he/she got right grid to fill).

Br,
Hegle

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces atlists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces atlists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Rich Rogan
Sent: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 6:06 PM
To: discuss atixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Workflow GUIs?

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Simple Design Solution for you:

Iterative - grid over form(s)
Fork - need more context

6 Apr 2006 - 1:37am
Mattias Ask4
2005

Hi,

I'm sorry to say, but I don't think I understand what you meen. I think that I have been too vague. What the workflow definer will result in is a kind of wizard, clear steps where you can (simplyfied) enter data, go to next or go back.

The context here is that the "administrative" user will define the workflows, e.i. all whys for every worker do a specific task. The workflows that are to be defined differ from worker to worker, but are similar in most ways. The two difficult concepts for the "administrative" user are

1. Iteration: One or more steps need to be repeted.
2. Fork: Depending on the information given in one step a workflow can split up into different paths.

Any examples more? As I ssaid before the MIT designed UI for Lego Mindstorms fits kind'a, but it still feels to technical.

/ma

On 2006-04-05 Rich Rogan wrote:

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>Simple Design Solution for you:
>
>Iterative - grid over form(s)
>Fork - need more context
>
>
>On 4/5/06, Hegle Sarapuu <hegle at interinx.com> wrote:
>>
>> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
>> material.]
>>
>> Hi,
>>
>> >> I am working on a weblication where a workflow will be defined using a
>> GUI.
>>
>> weblication means that you have to insert your workflow information thru
>> forms.
>>
>> >> To top it of the weblication will be used by non-programmers who have
>> no prior knowledge of what a fork or iteration is.
>>
>> Forget fork and iteration! Fork is mostly two or more task goes next to
>> one task or tasks what are done same time. Iteration is when you go back and
>> back and back except when some kind of condition is true then you go away.
>> You have to build that explanation into your system not only like text but
>> also with your forms or order of filling forms/making choices.
>>
>> Start at the beginning and go step by step. When users design workflow,
>> they know what first step is and maybe what is next. And some point they
>> know that they have to go back, then you have iteration. Only experience
>> workflow designer knows at the beginning that these tasks make iteration
>> together. If you have fork or we say it is multiple tasks at the same time
>> or joining tasks.
>> After every step system should generate graphical view of all tasks what
>> are inserted. Use explaining icons or pictures with ALT_text to show what
>> kind of task it is. How you handle choices? Forks are far easier to handle.
>>
>>
>> Br,
>> Hegle
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
>

6 Apr 2006 - 7:44am
jrrogan
2005

So you want inspiration for creating a wizard administration tool, and Lego
Mindstorms is going to help? What ever happened to getting inspiration from
best of breed software?

Now I'm not knocking Lego, god knows it's got it's place, but if you're
developing professional software, your problem doesn't seem like anything
that a form based wizard builder couldn't take care of, given some level of
abstraction. Why wouldn't you look to white papers on People Soft, My SAP,
or map standard form builders from Intuit or Microsoft products?

Obviously I do not know much about your requirements, but defining paths for
multi screen data entry, (is this what you're doing?), is pretty straight
forward stuff, I'd suggest sticking to the simplest solution, although it
would be cool to use lego building blocks ;)

On 4/6/06, Mattias Ask <mattias.ask at jayway.net> wrote:
>
>
> Hi,
>
> I'm sorry to say, but I don't think I understand what you meen. I think
> that I have been too vague. What the workflow definer will result in is a
> kind of wizard, clear steps where you can (simplyfied) enter data, go to
> next or go back.
>
> The context here is that the "administrative" user will define the
> workflows, e.i. all whys for every worker do a specific task. The
> workflows that are to be defined differ from worker to worker, but are
> similar in most ways. The two difficult concepts for the "administrative"
> user are
>
> 1. Iteration: One or more steps need to be repeted.
> 2. Fork: Depending on the information given in one step a workflow can
> split up into different paths.
>
> Any examples more? As I ssaid before the MIT designed UI for Lego
> Mindstorms fits kind'a, but it still feels to technical.
>
> /ma
>
> On 2006-04-05 Rich Rogan wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
> >
> >Simple Design Solution for you:
> >
> >Iterative - grid over form(s)
> >Fork - need more context
> >
> >
> >On 4/5/06, Hegle Sarapuu <hegle at interinx.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> >> material.]
> >>
> >> Hi,
> >>
> >> >> I am working on a weblication where a workflow will be defined using
> a
> >> GUI.
> >>
> >> weblication means that you have to insert your workflow information
> thru
> >> forms.
> >>
> >> >> To top it of the weblication will be used by non-programmers who
> have
> >> no prior knowledge of what a fork or iteration is.
> >>
> >> Forget fork and iteration! Fork is mostly two or more task goes next to
> >> one task or tasks what are done same time. Iteration is when you go
> back and
> >> back and back except when some kind of condition is true then you go
> away.
> >> You have to build that explanation into your system not only like text
> but
> >> also with your forms or order of filling forms/making choices.
> >>
> >> Start at the beginning and go step by step. When users design workflow,
> >> they know what first step is and maybe what is next. And some point
> they
> >> know that they have to go back, then you have iteration. Only
> experience
> >> workflow designer knows at the beginning that these tasks make
> iteration
> >> together. If you have fork or we say it is multiple tasks at the same
> time
> >> or joining tasks.
> >> After every step system should generate graphical view of all tasks
> what
> >> are inserted. Use explaining icons or pictures with ALT_text to show
> what
> >> kind of task it is. How you handle choices? Forks are far easier to
> handle.
> >>
> >>
> >> Br,
> >> Hegle
> >>
> >> ________________________________________________________________
> >> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> >> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> >> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> >> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> >> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> >> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> >> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> >> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> >> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> >>
> >________________________________________________________________
> >Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> >To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> >List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> >List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> >(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> >Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> >Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> >Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> >Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> >
> >
>
>
>

6 Apr 2006 - 8:02am
Mattias Ask4
2005

Hi,

>So you want inspiration for creating a wizard administration tool, and Lego
>Mindstorms is going to help? What ever happened to getting inspiration from
>best of breed software?

No need to be arrogant. I was simply asking for inspiration and the only source I hade come up with so far was Lego Mindstorms. The original UI to that product was created by MIT for users with no programming experience, which fits my target audience. Not a bad start for inspiration, in my world.

>Why wouldn't you look to white papers on People Soft, My SAP,
>or map standard form builders from Intuit or Microsoft products?

This was spot on what I was looking for. If any of these products doesn't targets users with high computer /process knowladge, then they it's perfect.

>defining paths for multi screen data entry, (is this what you're doing?), is pretty straight
>forward stuff,

It depends. The problem isn't to create a product. That's the easy part. The problem is to create a product that the target user group will understand, learn easily and use efficientlly. And I don't think that "defining paths for multi screen data entry" is straight forward for everyone.

Br,
Mattias

On 2006-04-06 Rich Rogan wrote:

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>So you want inspiration for creating a wizard administration tool, and Lego
>Mindstorms is going to help? What ever happened to getting inspiration from
>best of breed software?
>
>Now I'm not knocking Lego, god knows it's got it's place, but if you're
>developing professional software, your problem doesn't seem like anything
>that a form based wizard builder couldn't take care of, given some level of
>abstraction. Why wouldn't you look to white papers on People Soft, My SAP,
>or map standard form builders from Intuit or Microsoft products?
>
>Obviously I do not know much about your requirements, but defining paths for
>multi screen data entry, (is this what you're doing?), is pretty straight
>forward stuff, I'd suggest sticking to the simplest solution, although it
>would be cool to use lego building blocks ;)
>
>
>
>On 4/6/06, Mattias Ask <mattias.ask at jayway.net> wrote:
>>
>>
>> Hi,
>>
>> I'm sorry to say, but I don't think I understand what you meen. I think
>> that I have been too vague. What the workflow definer will result in is a
>> kind of wizard, clear steps where you can (simplyfied) enter data, go to
>> next or go back.
>>
>> The context here is that the "administrative" user will define the
>> workflows, e.i. all whys for every worker do a specific task. The
>> workflows that are to be defined differ from worker to worker, but are
>> similar in most ways. The two difficult concepts for the "administrative"
>> user are
>>
>> 1. Iteration: One or more steps need to be repeted.
>> 2. Fork: Depending on the information given in one step a workflow can
>> split up into different paths.
>>
>> Any examples more? As I ssaid before the MIT designed UI for Lego
>> Mindstorms fits kind'a, but it still feels to technical.
>>
>> /ma
>>
>> On 2006-04-05 Rich Rogan wrote:
>>
>> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
>> material.]
>> >
>> >Simple Design Solution for you:
>> >
>> >Iterative - grid over form(s)
>> >Fork - need more context
>> >
>> >
>> >On 4/5/06, Hegle Sarapuu <hegle at interinx.com> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
>> >> material.]
>> >>
>> >> Hi,
>> >>
>> >> >> I am working on a weblication where a workflow will be defined using
>> a
>> >> GUI.
>> >>
>> >> weblication means that you have to insert your workflow information
>> thru
>> >> forms.
>> >>
>> >> >> To top it of the weblication will be used by non-programmers who
>> have
>> >> no prior knowledge of what a fork or iteration is.
>> >>
>> >> Forget fork and iteration! Fork is mostly two or more task goes next to
>> >> one task or tasks what are done same time. Iteration is when you go
>> back and
>> >> back and back except when some kind of condition is true then you go
>> away.
>> >> You have to build that explanation into your system not only like text
>> but
>> >> also with your forms or order of filling forms/making choices.
>> >>
>> >> Start at the beginning and go step by step. When users design workflow,
>> >> they know what first step is and maybe what is next. And some point
>> they
>> >> know that they have to go back, then you have iteration. Only
>> experience
>> >> workflow designer knows at the beginning that these tasks make
>> iteration
>> >> together. If you have fork or we say it is multiple tasks at the same
>> time
>> >> or joining tasks.
>> >> After every step system should generate graphical view of all tasks
>> what
>> >> are inserted. Use explaining icons or pictures with ALT_text to show
>> what
>> >> kind of task it is. How you handle choices? Forks are far easier to
>> handle.
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> Br,
>> >> Hegle
>> >>
>> >> ________________________________________________________________
>> >> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> >> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> >> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>> >> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>> >> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>> >> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>> >> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>> >> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>> >> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>> >>
>> >________________________________________________________________
>> >Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> >To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> >List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>> >List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>> >(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>> >Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>> >Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>> >Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>> >Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>> >
>> >
>>
>>
>>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
>

6 Apr 2006 - 11:32am
Robert Brown
2006

> Does anyone know of any other UI where fork and iterations are made
available > for a user who may not know what a forks or iterations are?

For sources of inspiration

Look at the various ways in which recipes are constructed, and
communicated... Many recipes include 'forks' and 'iterations', without
using this terminology... Especially baking.

This would be a book to reference, The Professional Chef (CIA's
textbook)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0471382574/ref=pd_sim_b_4/102-1094979-0
069761?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance&n=283155

This site has some good info design for recipes
http://www.hertzmann.com/ example
http://www.hertzmann.com/articles/2005/pot-au-feu/recipe.php

And what I believe is a good interface for flow creation is the
interface for Automator...
http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/automator/

GUI for building you own Applescripts.

6 Apr 2006 - 7:31pm
jbellis
2005

Mattias,
I think this gets toward answering your question, but I'm not certain.

I've long been a big fan of Macromedia Authorware's flow diagram interface.
To see what I mean, go to Google,
click Images
and search on "authorware flows".
You'll see a lot of flowchart-like diagrams.

If the two options, iterate and fork, are the gist of the dilemma, I'd make
them two prominent, well-blurbed tool/diagrams for users to click on or
drag. I suppose the Iteration tool would have to prompt or wizard the user
through the "loop until" specification.

I sent Macromedia an email imploring them to make Authorware's "flow"
metaphor simply an alternate "view" in other products, such as Dreamweaver,
but they must still be working on it. :) It is long overdue that all tools
that have an algorithmic context have a flow-wise view. (Hey, I asked them
to add a timeline view to then-RoboDemo and when it morphed to MM
Captivate... it was there. Probably just a coincidence, but we can dream,
eh?)

www.jackBellis.com, www.UsabilityInstitute.com
----- Original Message ----- >
>From: "Mattias Ask" <mattias.ask at jayway.net>
>>> Does anyone know of any other UI where fork and iterations are made
>>> available for a user who may not know what a forks or iterations are?
>>>
>>> Br,
>>> Mattias Ask

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