Saturday, July 31, 2004

More on Task-based UI's

Microsoft published the first article of a two-part series on Inductive UI (IUI) design, their buzzword for Task-based UI. This one covers a couple things:

  • How IUI can help users get frequent tasks completed faster.
  • What is a frequent task.
  • How you can implement a IUI design using a .NET library.

If you have ever seen an IUI design (think Task Panes in MS Office 2003), you will almost immediately see Web-style similarities. The article discusses this, referring to Dialog-style versus Web-style UI's. The author does note that in many cases experienced users will prefer Dialog-style UI's over Web-style. While I can agree with the sentiment, it usually happens in cases where the Web-style UI is designed to perform a long, drawn out wizard process. In most cases, such Task Panes, Web-style UI's are just as unobtrusive and straight forward as the Dialog-style counterparts.

Since I am working on a Task Pane infrastructure for an application at work, I was also interested in the details of the Web-style navigation library used to build Task Panes in .NET applications. The library allows programmers to create pages, which appear to be frame-like surfaces you can drop controls onto. The library manages a stack of those pages. This is different than our approach, which uses the MSHTML web browser component to host a stack of HTML pages.

Update: Part 2 is available.

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