Re: Refresh vs Update

Subject: Re: Refresh vs Update
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 1995 12:36:56 PDT

>> Do you really mean to say that you have an application that doesn't
>> update the screen as changes are made, which you think is geared toward
>> non-technical users?

>I don't know about the program in question, but this is common. For
>example, a sales rep might enter a customer's ID number and product codes
>to fill out an order. S/he then presses enter and the program looks up and
>displays the customer's name, address, names of the products, an order
>number, etc. Something I've seen that works well is to say "press enter to
>verify the information." Once they've done this once it becomes
>intuitive.

That's a logical development from the old half-duplex transaction-based
systems. The computer would paint a form on the screen of your terminal,
and you'd fill it in. No communication took place with the central
computer as you filled in the form -- it was all buffered in the terminal.
When you were all done, you'd hit the "Submit" key, and the screen would
be sent to the computer (which would analyze your entries and complain
if it didn't like any of them, and you'd get to fill out the rejected
fields again).

This allowed the central computer and the data links to be very slow, while
allowing the forms to be filled in quickly. A nice technology, really --
nicely suited to hammering in data very quickly, giving it a once-over,
and THEN submitting it. Modern systems tend to bitch and moan at every
step, and often don't let you fill in fields in a random order.

But I digress. These systems had two things going for them:

1. The computer didn't change any of the data on the screen. It might
COMPLAIN about it, and highlight bad fields, but what you typed was
what you got. You were never left wondering whether the computer
was changing things without telling you. In short, the screen display
was always up to date, and you didn't need a "refresh" key.

2. These were dedicated systems -- the user ALWAYS got SOME amount of
training.

If neither of these things is true of a piece of software, it's going to
be pretty hard on the users.

-- Robert

--
Robert Plamondon * Writer * robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (408) 321-8771
4271 North First Street, #106 * San Jose * California * 95134-1215
"Writing is like plumbing -- even people who know how to do it will
pay top dollar to keep their hands clean."


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