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RE: [ui-best-practices-working-group] UI Best Practices Working GroupProposal to the Planning Council (Draft)

I had a chance to preview this with the Requirements Council.  They had a similar reaction.  Loved the peer review opportunities, some concern over making things mandatory.


In particular the UI Polish Review being mandatory felt like a bit of check box release activity to them.  Not much resistance to the post mortem and the visibility it would trigger.


I will make a point of presenting these view points and any discussion on this thread when this is presented to the Planning Council.


From: ui-best-practices-working-group-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ui-best-practices-working-group-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Kevin McGuire
Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2006 12:06 PM
To: User Interface Best Practices Working Group
Subject: Re: [ui-best-practices-working-group] UI Best Practices Working GroupProposal to the Planning Council (Draft)


Hi all,

The activities listed (UI Post-Mortem, Show and Tell, Polish Review) are good practices for any group to follow.  Its great for us to document them and provide direction.  We need however to provide more written motivation on why they are worth spending time on.

The issue I am struggling with though is whether or not the UI Post-Mortem and Polish Review should be made mandatory as the wording presently recommends.

Either a team cares about usability and UI polish, or they do not.  If they do, but they are having difficulty achieving this goal, then the Working Group can provide guidance in the forms of best practices (such as those below) and informal peer review/feedback.  Up until now there has not been a forum for discussing UI issues in Eclipse.  In this case the role of the Working Group as a peer group is quite clear to me and good.  The number of people already on the call suggests that the interest and motivation is there.

If they do not care, then making the steps mandatory is only an administrative annoyance which will likely be checked off in the most efficient manner.  A review alone will not provide quality, either because the review itself may not be done particularly well, or because the few items it brings forth may never be acted on.  You can't mandate caring.

Not only will these steps not necessarily produce usable quality UIs, but the contrary is also true: good UIs can be produced without following these steps.  In WebSphere Integration Developer, we never did a formal UI Post-Mortem as outlined, nor a formal UI Polish Review).  We nevertheless achieved high degrees of usability, finesse, and innovation by making UI quality central to the tooling team's thoughts, with design and review occurring constantly throughout the iterative cycle.  IMHO this is the best way to address UI issues, by baking it into what is done on a daily basis.  By contrast, the recommended mandatory steps only address two phases in the development: the end-game (where frankly only surface usability issues can be addressed) and planning.  A good start certainly, but not the whole story.

I think that raising awareness around UI quality is a great role for the Working Group.  In that sense, I can understand the motivation for making these steps mandatory.  And I can see that by making the outcome public, visibility and thus pressure is put on the groups to improve their usability.  I am uncomfortable with them being rules, but perhaps that's just my personality <grin>.

I believe this issue of creating mandatory process steps is central to what we believe the role of the Working Group is.  I missed the first half of our last call so maybe I just missed out on this discussion.

Kevin McGuire
Eclipse UI Guy

"Bob Fraser" <bfraser@xxxxxxx>
Sent by: ui-best-practices-working-group-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxx

10/06/2006 06:25 PM

Please respond to
User Interface Architecture Working Group


"User Interface Best Practices Working Group" <ui-best-practices-working-group@xxxxxxxxxxx>




[ui-best-practices-working-group] UI Best Practices Working Group        Proposal to the Planning Council (Draft)




Here is a draft of the proposal to the planning council.  Comments welcome.
The Eclipse User Interface Best Practices Working Group wishes to make a proposal to the Eclipse Planning Council to encourage the participation of the project groups in the activities of the working group.  We believe this will improve the usability and user experience in and across the projects making up the simultaneous release.
Background: The EMO was instructed by the Board to facilitate the creation of a working group to focus on usability and UI in Eclipse.  This has happened and the User Interface Best Practices Working Group has the charter to help improve the usability across the Eclipse projects that are part of the simultaneous release effort. In addition to updating the Eclipse User Interface Guidelines, the group will also participate in and facilitate the following activities to improve the user interface experience:

  • Trigger usability post-mortems to be performed by the different projects
  • Conduct regular "show and tells" with UI leads from the projects to shed spotlight on problem areas and promote good ideas as best practices
  • Do an end of release UI review and come up with a cross-project list of polish items

The wiki for the working group can be found at:
And a detailed description of the activities can be found at:
Proposal: The User Interface Best Practices Working Group wishes to propose the following items:

  • The group requests that the Planning Council makes the output of the usability post-mortems a requirement for participation in the simultaneous release.  Specifically, that the projects shall hold usability post-mortems and a prioritized list of usability issues to be addressed shall be posted on the project wiki.
  • The group requests that the Planning Council recommends that the projects participate in UI show and tells with the goal of sharing information on UI best practices and challenges.
  • The group requests that the Planning Council makes the output of the UI Polish Review a part of the release exit criteria. Specifically, that the projects shall hold UI Polish Reviews and a final fix list shall be posted on the project wiki.

We thank your consideration of this matter.

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