Podcast Episode 1

In this first episode of the Frontended  Podcast we have six selected abstracts from the Proceedings of the 2010 ACM Symposium on the User Interface Software and Technology.

  • Imaginary interfaces: spatial interaction with empty hands and without visual feedback
  • Phone touch: a technique for direct phone interaction on surface
  • Hands-on math: A page based multi-touch and pen-based desktop for technical work and problem solving
  • Pen+Touch = new tools
  • Mixture model based label association techniques for wed accessibility
  • Squeezeblock: using a virtual springs and mobile devices for device-free interaction

You can find all of these at the following hcibib.org link:


Enjoy and as always if you have any … Continue Reading

Gesture-based typing for mobile phones.

Guess what! I’m writing this directly from mt phone using a relatively new input tool called swype.
Whereas all past input methods for phones required single-key entry, swype lets you enter whole words just but swyping your finger around the onscreen keyboard. It’s extremely easy to use and fast! Your should try it!

Code Bubbles IDE for Java Developers

Excellent new concepts for working with code in an Eclipse-based IDE

Legacy Migrations made easy…

Legacy Migrations is a little gem that helps you migrate data from an old database structure to a new db and db structure. It keeps a status report for failed validations, and also lets you update data if all you need is a nightly data update. Here’s a quick sample that transfers data from the model Person to the model Animal (assuming the models are subclasses of either ActiveRecord::Base or CSV::Table):
require ‘legacy_migrations’

#Assuming you’ve already created classes for source and destination tables
transfer_from Person, :to => Animal do
match_same_name_attributes :only => [:sex, :age]
from :name, :to => :pet_name
Continue Reading

Quince Interaction Design Patterns

Quince is an interesting library of Interaction Design patterns that helps developers lookup, learn and effectively create more user-friendly user experiences. The main draw is that each design pattern is accompanied by a list of references to books or articles that mention the pattern. The down side is that the references seem to be popular books written by famous usability experts who don’t site specific studies or experiments supporting their findings. Of course, those experts are famous for a reason, so we wouldn’t want to completely disregard the references. Nonetheless listing a peer-reviewed study or two … Continue Reading

Reality-Based Interaction Framework.

In the 2009 Confeference for Human Computer Interaction (CHI) a group of researchers from Tufts University presented a new framework for classifying reality-based interactions–aptly named “Reality-Based Interaction Framework.”

The basic idea is that you can classify almost all types of interactions that users can experience that are not WIMP (window, icon, mouse)-based with this framework, and by doing so, you’ll have an easier time conducting studies. It’s an interesting idea, but will it hold up to scrutiny?

Like any well-meaning scientist’s blog, the next few posts will try to challenge this framework not because I think it is not useful, or because … Continue Reading

HeyCosmo…THEY push the buttons.

Tired of pushing 2 for tech support or 3 to speak with a representative? HeyCosmo solves that by making the people who answer your calls push the buttons, not you.

It works like this. You log on to Facebook or HeyCosmo.com, select or create a question that you want to investigate (questions range from finding reservations for a type of restaurant to asking a bunch of friends which movie they want to watch). Then HeyCosmo calls all the relevant parties (your friends, the restaurant to reserve seats, etc.), makes them push 1 for The Hulk or 2 for Spiderman then … Continue Reading

Accordia: Visualize Contact Relationships

Accordia is a search and visualization engine designed to help users find relationships between their clients more quickly.

If you look at the online demo you can see that the architects came up with some very interesting ways of displaying relationships. It looks similar to Digg’s Swarm, but instead of displaying votes, it displays relationships between people. So if two of your clients happen to work at the same company, a line is drawn between their two nodes on a chart area. If two clients are family members, then a very strong line is displayed between them.

Since the product … Continue Reading

Mobile Information Needs and Design

Researchers at UC San Diego conducted a diary study of 20 people’s mobile information needs over the course of two weeks (Sohn, Li et al 2008). At the end of the day their analysis shows us what users really need when their mobile and helps us design more effective mobile site profiles.

In their analysis, Sohn et al dissected 421 information needs and analyzed the heck out of them. But the most interesting findings are probably just the information needs themselves. They placed each need into one of 16 categories. The following categories occurred most frequently:

  1. Trivia (e.g. How did Bob Marley … Continue Reading


Hi Everyone,

This blog is geared at the design of software interfaces. Hopefully over the coming months you’ll see analyzes of various peer-reviewed and sometimes even non-peer-reviewed journal articles that address frontend design. Some common terms that you might think of when you think of frontend design include interaction design, usability, user experience and information architecture. If you’re into that kind of stuff, you and I will get along just fine.

For those of you not terribly familiar with these terms, just send me an email and I’ll be glad to help you get a feel for the field. I’ve only been … Continue Reading