Requirements and Design of DesignVision, An Object-Oriented Graphical Interface to a Software Design Environment.

Raymonde Guindon, Hewlett Packard

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University November 18, 1992


I will present work I have done while at MCC and Stanford Knowledge System Laboratory. This talk exemplifies a methodology intented to extract theoretically sound requirements for tools targeted at the early stages of software design.

The first part of the talk presents a set of studies of the software design process I conducted at MCC. These studies show that:

(1) The dynamics of early design is opportunistic. (2) Drawings play a critical role in design conception, not just documentation. (3) Designers suffer from various problem-solving difficulties, such as difficulty in simulating and evaluating partial, informal solutions and difficulty in keeping track of tasks to be completed.

The second part of the talk describes a set of requirements for early design environments derived from these findings. DesignVision, a prototype system built from these requirements while I was at Stanford, will be described briefly. Key requirements of the environment include respectively:

(1) The (simultaneous) display of any set of software modules at arbitrary levels of abstraction and from any subsystem. The unrestricted, smooth navigation between any of these modules.

(2) Multiple design notations ---pictorial and symbolic--- cross-referenced, editable, and maintained consistent across all views. Integrated views of control flow, data flow, and functional decomposition.

(3) Automatic completeness and consistency check, with visual indication and listing of modules with constraint violations. Visual display of execution paths in the solution.

The research and design methodology exemplified here shows that one can effectively derive useful requirements from user studies, even for tasks that are still poorly understood.


Guindon, R. (1992). Requirements and Design of DesignVision, An Object-Oriented Graphical Interface to an Intelligent Software Design Assistant. ACM CHI' 92 Conference Proceedings. Monterey, CA, May 92.

Guindon, R. (1990). Designing the design process: Exploiting opportunistic thoughts. Human-Computer Interaction, 5, 305-344.

Guindon, R. (1990). Knowledge exploited by experts during software system design. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 33, 279-304.


Raymonde Guindon received a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder where she studied discourse comprehension and complex problem solving. She then worked at MCC for 5 years in the Human-Computer Interface and Software Technology programs where she directed studies of natural language interfaces, user-advising systems, and the software design process. She then joined a research project at Stanford's Knowledge Systems Laboratory where she was designing and implementing visualization and user-interface tools to support the early stages of software design. She has also completed a Master's degree in computer science at Stanford. She has recently joined Hewlett-Packard in a newly formed user-interface and usability group, where she is technically leading UI design projects.


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