Publication statistics

Pub. period:1980-2012
Pub. count:70
Number of co-authors:61



Co-authors

Number of publications with 3 favourite co-authors:

George Buchanan:9
Paul Cairns:6
Yin Leng Theng:4

 

 

Productive colleagues

Harold Thimbleby's 3 most productive colleagues in number of publications:

Saul Greenberg:140
Ann Blandford:85
Ian H. Witten:82
 
 
 

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Harold Thimbleby

Picture of Harold Thimbleby.
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Has also published under the name of:
"H. W. Thimbleby" and "H. Thimbleby"

Personal Homepage:
cs.swansea.ac.uk/~csharold

Current place of employment:
Swansea University, Wales

Harold W. Thimbleby (born 19 July 1955) is a British professor of computer science at Swansea University, Wales. He is known for his works on user interface design within the realm of human computer interaction.

 

Publications by Harold Thimbleby (bibliography)

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2012
 
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Cauchi, Abigail, Gimblett, Andy, Thimbleby, Harold, Curzon, Paul and Masci, Paolo (2012): Safer "5-key" number entry user interfaces using differential formal analysis. In: Proceedings of the HCI12 Conference on People and Computers XXVI 2012. pp. 29-38. Available online

Differential formal analysis is a new user interface analytic evaluation method based on stochastic user simulation. The method is particularly valuable for evaluating safety critical user interfaces, which often have subtle programming issues. The approach starts with the identification of operational design features that define the design space to be explored. Two or more analysts are required to analyse all combinations of design features by simulating keystroke sequences containing keying slip errors. Each simulation produces numerical values that rank the design combinations on the basis of their sensitivity to keying slip errors. A systematic discussion of the simulation results is performed for assessing the causes of any discrepancy, either in numerical values or rankings. The process is iterated until outcomes are agreed upon. In short, the approach combines rigorous simulation of user slip errors with diversity in modelling and analysis methods. Although the method can be applied to other types of user interface, it is demonstrated through a case study of 5-key number entry systems, which are a common safety critical user interface style found in many medical infusion pumps and elsewhere. The results uncover critical design issues, and are an important contribution of this paper since the results provide device manufacturers guidelines to update their device firmware to make their devices safer.

© All rights reserved Cauchi et al. and/or their publisher

 
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Owen, Tom, Buchanan, George and Thimbleby, Harold (2012): Understanding user requirements in take-home diabetes management technologies. In: Proceedings of the HCI12 Conference on People and Computers XXVI 2012. pp. 268-273. Available online

People who suffer from Diabetes are required to make frequent decisions on their personal treatment based on results from glucose monitors. Yet the results returned from the devices form only a part of the decision-making process. We seek to understand the role that glucose monitors have in patient's management practices and how technology could support patients' management further. From a series of interviews, we arrive at the hypothesis that the capture of the contextual information will both aid the understanding of results, and allow for enhanced support during non-routine occurrences.

© All rights reserved Owen et al. and/or their publisher

 
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Thimbleby, Harold and Cairns, Paul (2012): How good is this conference?: evaluating conference reviewing and selectivity. In: Proceedings of the HCI12 Conference on People and Computers XXVI 2012. pp. 410-415. Available online

Peer reviewing of papers is the mainstay of modern academic publishing but it has well known problems. In this paper, we take a statistical modelling view to show a particular problem in the use of selectivity measures to indicate the quality of a conference. One key problem with the process of conference reviewing is the failure to make a useful feedback loop between the referees of the papers accepted at the conference and their importance, acceptance and relevance to the audience. In addition, we make some new criticisms of selectivity as a measure of quality. This paper is literally a work in progress because the 2012 BCS HCI itself conference will be used to close the feedback loop by making the connection between the reviews provided on papers and your (audience) perceptions of the papers. At the conference, participants will generate the results of this work.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and Cairns and/or their publisher

 
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Pearson, Jennifer, Owen, Tom, Thimbleby, Harold and Buchanan, George R. (2012): Co-reading: investigating collaborative group reading. In: JCDL12 Proceedings of the 2012 Joint International Conference on Digital Libraries 2012. pp. 325-334. Available online

Collaborative reading, or co-reading as we call it, is ubiquitous; it occurs, for instance, in classrooms, book-clubs, and in less coordinated ways through mass media. While individual digital reading has been the subject of much investigation, research into co-reading is scarce. We report a two-phase field study of group reading to identify an initial set of user requirements. A co-reading interface is then designed that facilitates the coordination of group reading by providing temporary 'Point-out' markers to indicate specific locations within documents. A user study compared this new system with collaborative reading on paper, with a positive outcome; the differences in user behavior between paper and the new interface reveal intriguing insights into user needs and the potential benefits of digital media for co-reading.

© All rights reserved Pearson et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Pearson, Jennifer, Buchanan, George and Thimbleby, Harold (2012): Investigating collaborative annotation on slate pcs. In: Proceedings of the 14th Conference on Human-computer interaction with mobile devices and services 2012. pp. 413-416. Available online

Mobile reading is becoming evermore popular with the introduction of eInk devices such as the Kindle, as well as the many reading applications available on slate PCs and cellular handsets. The portable nature and large storage capacity of these modern mobile devices is making reading a more technology orientated activity. One aspect of mobile reading that has been given surprisingly little attention is collective reading -- which is a common activity with paper documents. We investigate the support of group reading using slate PCs, focussing on collective annotation. In the past, desktop PCs have proved inferior in many ways for reading, when compared to paper. Notably, user evaluations of our new system, BuddyBooks, demonstrate that the slate PC form factor can, in contrast, provide advantages for group reading. While annotation practices change with the new format, coordinating within the group can be improved when touch-interaction is carefully exploited.

© All rights reserved Pearson et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Webster, Julie, Eslambolchilar, Parisa and Thimbleby, Harold (2012): From rotary telephones to universal number entry systems: can the past re-shape the future?. In: Proceedings of the 2012 International Conference on Uniquitous Computing 2012. pp. 596-597.

Although number entry appears to be a trivial task, user errors are still common and could be a result of poorly engineered interaction with the devices. We are challenging the design of universal number entry systems by looking at cases where user errors are frequently made. The telephone is used as a platform to compare input devices for number entry where we can look for speed and accuracy trade-offs between direct and indirect inputs. We will focus on the knob, button, and touchscreen and hope to find guidelines for when each is appropriate to use in a number entry system.

© All rights reserved Webster et al. and/or ACM Press

2011
 
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Pearson, Jennifer, Buchanan, George and Thimbleby, Harold (2011): The reading desk: applying physical interactions to digital documents. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2011 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2011. pp. 3199-3202. Available online

Reading is increasingly being performed interactively on-screen; for instance, new novels are now routinely released in electronic format for viewing on PCs and mobile devices. Unfortunately, on-screen reading loses many of the natural features of conventional physical media, such as the ability to annotate, slip in bookmarks, turn page corners, and so on. How best should these features be represented electronically? Can computerized representations give benefits that excel the conventional benefits of paper? We describe the design and implementation of a novel reading system that mimics key properties of paper and surpasses them by incorporating digital techniques. A comparative user study evaluating the system confirmed the effectiveness of the features and the value of the system as a whole.

© All rights reserved Pearson et al. and/or their publisher

 
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Wilson, Max L., Mackay, Wendy, Chi, Ed, Bernstein, Michael, Russell, Dan and Thimbleby, Harold (2011): RepliCHI -- CHI should be replicating and validating results more: discuss. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2011 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2011. pp. 463-466. Available online

The replication of research findings is a cornerstone of good science. Replication confirms results, strengthens research, and makes sure progress is based on solid foundations. CHI, however, rewards novelty and is focused on new results. As a community, therefore, we do not value, facilitate, or reward replication in research, and often take the significant results of a single user study on 20 users to be true. This panel will address the issues surrounding replication in our community, and discuss: a) how much of our broad diverse discipline is 'science', b) how, if at all, we currently see replication of research in our community, c) whether we should place more emphasis on replication in some form, and d) how that should look in our community. The aim of the panel is to make a proposal to future CHI organizers (2 are on the panel) for how we should facilitate replication in the future.

© All rights reserved Wilson et al. and/or their publisher

 
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Mentis, Helena M., Thimbleby, Harold, Kientz, Julie A., Hayes, Gillian R. and Reddy, Madhu (2011): Interactive technologies for health special interest group. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2011 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2011. pp. 519-522. Available online

Health and how to support it with interactive computer systems, networks, and devices is a global and, for many countries, an explicit national priority. Significant interest in issues related to interactive systems for health has been demonstrated repeatedly within SIGCHI. A community focused on health started in 2010, fostering collaboration and dissemination of research findings as well as bridging with practitioners. As part of this community's on-going efforts, we will hold a special interest group session during ACM CHI 2011 to discuss, prioritize, and promote some of these most pressing issues facing the community.

© All rights reserved Mentis et al. and/or their publisher

 
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Thimbleby, Harold, Gimblett, Andy and Cauchi, Abigail (2011): Buffer automata: a UI architecture prioritising HCI concerns for interactive devices. In: ACM SIGCHI 2011 Symposium on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems 2011. pp. 73-78. Available online

We introduce an architectural software formalism, buffer automata, for the specification, implementation and analysis of a particular class of discrete interactive systems and devices. The approach defines a layer between the physical user interface and the application (if any) and provides a clear framework for highlighting a number of interaction design issues, in particular around modes and undo.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Blandford, Ann, Pietro, Giuseppe De, Gallo, Luigi, Gimblett, Andy, Oladimeji, Patrick and Thimbleby, Harold (2011): Engineering interactive computer systems for medicine and healthcare (EICS4Med). In: ACM SIGCHI 2011 Symposium on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems 2011. pp. 341-342. Available online

This workshop brings together and develops the community of researchers and practitioners concerned with the design and evaluation of interactive medical devices (infusion pumps, etc) and systems (electronic patient records, etc), to deliver a roadmap for future research in this area. The workshop involves researchers and practitioners designing and evaluating dependable systems in a variety of contexts, and those developing innovative interactive computer systems for healthcare. These pose particular challenges because of the inherent variability -- of patients, system configurations, and so on. Participants will represent a range of perspectives, including safety engineering and innovative design. The focus is: engineering safe and acceptable interactive healthcare systems. The aim is: develop a roadmap for future research on interactive healthcare systems.

© All rights reserved Blandford et al. and/or ACM Press

2010
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (2010): Avoiding Latent Design Conditions Using UI Discovery Tools. In International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 26 (2) pp. 120-131. Available online

Motivation: Designers make decisions that later influence how users work with the systems that they have designed. When errors occur in use, it is tempting to focus on the active errors rather than on the latent design decisions that framed the context of error, and fixing latent conditions can have a more general (and future) impact than addressing particular active failures. Research approach: A constructive computer science approach is used, and results from a simulation reported. Research limitations: Error is a complex multidisciplinary field; this article makes a new contribution complimentary to human factors engineering. Take away message: This article shows that latent design decisions cause serious problems (including fatalities) in safety critical applications; the article proposes UI discovery tools to identify and manage latent errors. UI discovery enables human factors engineers and programmers to work together to help eliminate broad classes of latent design errors.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

 
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Holzinger, Andreas, Thimbleby, Harold and Beale, Russel (2010): Human-Computer Interaction for Medicine and Health Care (HCI4MED): Towards making Information usable. In International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 68 (6) pp. 325-327. Available online

 
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Langdon, Patrick and Thimbleby, Harold (2010): Inclusion and interaction: Designing interaction for inclusive populations. In Interacting with Computers, 22 (6) pp. 439-448. Available online

 
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Acharya, Chitra, Thimbleby, Harold and Oladimeji, Patrick (2010): Human computer interaction and medical devices. In: Proceedings of the HCI10 Conference on People and Computers XXIV 2010. pp. 168-176. Available online

To achieve dependable, usable, and well-engineered interactive devices in healthcare requires applied Human Computer Interaction (HCI) research and awareness of HCI issues throughout the lifecycle, from design through to procurement, training and use. This paper shows that some healthcare devices fall far short, and thus identifies a gap in applied HCI. We use a basic, interactive hospital bed as a case study, arguably so routine and simple enough that there should have been very few problems. However, the bed's interactive control panel design violates standard HCI principles. It is also badly programmed by the manufacturer. Evidently, something has gone wrong, somewhere from design to procurement, and we argue most of the problems would have been managed or avoided by conventional HCI processes. Driven by the case study, this paper explores the problems and makes recommendations. There are many similarly poorly designed medical devices. Manufacturers and healthcare purchasing groups should adhere to HCI processes and guidelines, as well as those provided by regulatory agencies for the design, regulation, and procurement of devices, products, or systems that contribute to patient safety. The challenge is to make HCI knowledge and priorities available to and effective in this important domain in any places that can make a difference.

© All rights reserved Acharya et al. and/or BCS

 
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Thimbleby, Harold and Cairns, Paul (2010): Reducing number entry errors: solving a widespread, serious problem. In Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 7 (51) pp. 1429-1439.

Number entry is ubiquitous: it is required in many fields including science, healthcare, education, government, mathematics and finance. People entering numbers are to be expected to make errors, but shockingly few systems make any effort to detect, block or otherwise manage errors. Worse, errors may be ignored but processed in arbitrary ways, with unintended results. A standard class of error (defined in the paper) is an out by 10 error', which is easily made by miskeying a decimal point or a zero. In safety-critical domains, such as drug delivery, out by 10 errors generally have adverse consequences. Here, we expose the extent of the problem of numeric errors in a very wide range of systems. An analysis of better error management is presented: under reasonable assumptions, we show that the probability of out by 10 errors can be halved by better user interface design. We provide a demonstration user interface to show that the approach is practical. To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.(Charles Darwin 1879 [2008], p. 229)

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and Cairns and/or their publisher

 Cited in the following chapter:

Formal Methods: [/encyclopedia/formal_methods.html]


 
 Cited in the following chapter:

Formal Methods: [/encyclopedia/formal_methods.html]


 
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (2010): Press On: Principles of Interaction Programming. The MIT Press

Interactive systems and devices, from mobile phones to office copiers, do not fulfill their potential for a wide variety of reasons--not all of them technical. Press On shows that we can design better interactive systems and devices if we draw on sound computer science principles. It uses state machines and graph theory as a powerful and insightful way to analyze and design better interfaces and examines specific designs and creative solutions to design problems. Programmers--who have the technical knowledge that designers and users often lack--can be more creative and more central to interaction design than we might think. Sound programming concepts improve device design. Press On provides the insights, concepts and programming tools to improve usability. Knowing the computer science is fundamental, but Press On also shows how essential it is to have the right approaches to manage the design of systems that people use. Particularly for complex systems, the social, psychological and ethical concerns--the wider design issues--are crucial, and these are covered in depth. Press On highlights key principles throughout the text and provides cross-topic linkages between chapters and suggestions for further reading. Additional material, including all the program code used in the book, is available on an interactive web site. Press On is an essential textbook and reference for computer science students, programmers, and anyone interested in the design of interactive technologies.Harold Thimbleby is Professor of Computer Science at Swansea University, Wales. He is the author or editor of a number of books, including User Interface Design, and nearly 400 other publications.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or The MIT Press

2009
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (2009): Interaction programming: next steps. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2009. pp. 3811-3816. Available online

Interaction programming bridges the gap between interaction design and programming, but it has not yet been related directly to mainstream development practice. This paper presents UI model discovery tools to enable existing systems and traditional development processes to benefit from interaction programming tools and methods.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or ACM Press

2008
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (2008): Ignorance of interaction programming is killing people. In Interactions, 15 (5) pp. 52-57. Available online

 
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Thimbleby, Harold (2008): Robot ethics? Not yet: A reflection on Whitby's "Sometimes it's hard to be a robot. In Interacting with Computers, 20 (3) pp. 338-341. Available online

Science fiction stories seductively portray robots as human. In present reality (early 21st century) robots are machines, even though they can do many things far better than humans (fly, swim, play chess to name a few). Any ethics for or of robots is therefore a seductive mix of fiction and reality. The key issue for rational discourse is to provide a rigorous framework for reasoning about the issues, including identifying flaws in the framework. We find such meta-reasoning in discussion about robot ethics to be ready for improvement. This paper takes its inspiration from B. Whitby, "Sometimes it's hard to be a robot: A call for action on the ethics of abusing artificial agents," Interacting with Computers, this issue, 2008.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Elsevier Science

 
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Holzinger, Andreas, Thimbleby, Harold and Beale, Russell (2008): Workshop HCI for Medicine and Health Care (HCI4MED). In: Proceedings of the HCI08 Conference on People and Computers XXII 2008. pp. 191-192. Available online

Ensuring good usability can be seen as the key success factor in our whole digital world: technology must support people. In particular, Medicine and Healthcare are currently subject to exceedingly rapid technological change. Vital areas for the economy include health of nations; medicine and healthcare entangles everybody, accordingly the role of usability is of increasing importance. Consequently, Medicine and Healthcare are a great challenge for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research; however, it is of vital importance that the findings are integrated into engineering at a systemic level. Information Processing, in particular its potential effectiveness in modern Health Services and the optimization of processes and operational sequences, is of increasing interest, but we need to ensure that we engineer effective solutions as well as understanding the stakeholders and the issues they can and do encounter. It is particularly important for Medical Information Systems (e.g. Hospital Information Systems and Decision Support Systems) to be designed from the perspective of the end users, especially given that this is a diverse set of people.

© All rights reserved Holzinger et al. and/or their publisher

 
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Cox, Anna L., Cairns, Paul, Thimbleby, Harold and Webb, Natalie (2008): Research Methods for HCI. In: Proceedings of the HCI08 Conference on People and Computers XXII 2008. pp. 221-222. Available online

The aim of the tutorial is to help researchers, particularly early career researchers, to develop the appropriate skills to make a useful research contribution to Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). This is in recognition of the fact that HCI draws on a wide variety of disciplines which means that there is a wide variety of methods that a researcher could use and moreover new researchers may have education or experience in only a small fraction of the methods available.

© All rights reserved Cox et al. and/or their publisher

 
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Cairns, Paul and Thimbleby, Harold (2008): Affordance and symmetry in user interfaces. In The Computer Journal, 51 (6) pp. 650-661. Available online

Affordance is a widely used term in human–computer interaction (HCI) that, while familiar and attractive, does not have a clear operational definition. Using the mathematical concept of symmetry, this paper shows that it is possible to begin developing an operational definition for significant aspects of affordance by forming the theoretical concept of symmetry-affordance. The proposed definition restricts symmetry-affordance to particular contexts but in doing so makes it more useful, as it is clear how to exploit symmetry to aid design. The definition is in standard mathematics (in fact, group theory and model theory) and requires little additional structure. In examining symmetry-affordance, it becomes clear that some other HCI notions can be similarly interpreted by symmetry. The paper provides examples and design insights.

© All rights reserved Cairns and Thimbleby and/or Oxford University Press

 Cited in the following chapter:

Affordances: [/encyclopedia/affordances_and_design.html]


 
 Cited in the following chapter:

Affordances: [/encyclopedia/affordances_and_design.html]


 
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (2008): Write now. In: Cairns, Paul and Cox, Anna L. (eds.). "Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction". Cambridge University Presspp. 196-211

Writing is hard, and it is easy to postpone doing it. There seem to be many natural reasons to postpone writing, like you don't know what to write yet so you can't start. Our natural inclinations, however, are counter-productive. This chapter provides many reasons to start writing now. Writing now will improve your self-esteem, it will help you write better, and it will help you do the work you are writing about | there are many other bene ts this chapter covers. In short, writing is formative; it is the most important activity of your project, and is integral to it, not just a description of what you did. This chapter does not tell you everything you need to know about writing, but it tells you the most important secret: write now. The advice in this chapter is written concretely as if for helping people write project reports (undergraduate, Masters or PhD theses). But the arguments apply equally to writing research proposals, job applications, stories, books, or research papers.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Cambridge University Press

 Cited in the following chapter:

Semi-structured qualitative studies: [/encyclopedia/semi-structured_qualitative_studies.html]


 
 Cited in the following chapter:

Semi-structured qualitative studies: [/encyclopedia/semi-structured_qualitative_studies.html]


 
2007
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (2007): Press On. Principles of interaction programming.. Boston, USA., MIT Press

Press On is in three parts: Part I: Context: Interactive systems and devices do not fulfill their potential for economic, social, psychological, and technical reasons. Part I I Principles: Computer science provides many practical creative ideas and theories that can drive effective interaction programming. Part I I I Press On: While knowing the science is fundamental, it is also essential to have the right attitudes and approaches to managing the complexity of designing systems for people to use. The interaction programmer must never say, "it's not my job to..." - interaction programming means understanding and weaving the science into the big picture.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or MIT Press

 
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Thimbleby, Harold (2007): Press On: Principles of Interaction Programming. The MIT Press

How to understand and program interactive devices so that they are reliable and easy to use; includes wide-ranging programming insights, tools, and code.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or The MIT Press

 Cited in the following chapter:

Requirements Engineering: [/encyclopedia/requirements_engineering.html]


 
 Cited in the following chapter:

Requirements Engineering: [/encyclopedia/requirements_engineering.html]


 
2004
 
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Thimbleby, Harold and Gow, Jeremy (2004): Computer algebra in interface design research. In: Nunes, Nuno Jardim and Rich, Charles (eds.) International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces 2004 January 13-16, 2004, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. pp. 366-367. Available online

Tools to design, analyse and evaluate user interfaces can be used in user interface design research and in interface modelling research. This demonstration shows two working systems: one in Mathematica that is mathematically sophisticated, and one as a 'conventional' rapid application development environment, where the mathematics is hidden, and which could form the basis of a professional design tool -- but which is based rigorously on the same algebraic formalism.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and Gow and/or ACM Press

 
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Oshlyansky, Lidia, Thimbleby, Harold and Cairns, Paul (2004): Breaking affordance: culture as context. In: Proceedings of the Third Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction October 23-27, 2004, Tampere, Finland. pp. 81-84. Available online

The concept of affordance as it applies to user interface design is widely used and accepted; possibly overused. This paper explores one of the constraints on affordance: culture. Graduate and undergraduate students in the United Kingdom and the United States were surveyed and asked to make judgements about the behaviour of abstracted Western-like objects. The study clearly shows that UK subjects thought the down position of a light switch indicates it is "ON"; for their US counterparts it was "OFF." We suggest that context (in the case of this study, culture) is often overlooked, but is central to affordance, to computer interface design, as well as to action and activity more generally.

© All rights reserved Oshlyansky et al. and/or ACM Press

 Cited in the following chapter:

Affordances: [/encyclopedia/affordances_and_design.html]


 
 Cited in the following chapter:

Affordances: [/encyclopedia/affordances_and_design.html]


 
 
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Buchanan, George, Blandford, Ann, Thimbleby, Harold and Jones, Matt (2004): Integrating information seeking and structuring: exploring the role of spatial hypertext in a digital library. In: Proceedings of the Fifteenth ACM Conference on Hypertext 2004. pp. 225-234. Available online

This paper presents Garnet, a novel spatial hypertext interface to a digital library. Garnet supports both information structuring - via spatial hypertext - and traditional information seeking - via a digital library. A user study of Garnet is reported, together with an analysis of how the organizing work done by users in a spatial hypertext workspace could support later information seeking. The use of Garnet during the study is related to both digital library and spatial hypertext research. Spatial hypertexts support the detection of implicit document groups in a user's workspace. The study also investigates the degree of similarity found in the full text of documents within such document groups.

© All rights reserved Buchanan et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Thimbleby, Harold (2004): User interface design with matrix algebra. In ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 11 (2) pp. 181-236. Available online

It is usually very hard, both for designers and users, to reason reliably about user interfaces. This article shows that 'push button' and 'point and click' user interfaces are algebraic structures. Users effectively do algebra when they interact, and therefore we can be precise about some important design issues and issues of usability. Matrix algebra, in particular, is useful for explicit calculation and for proof of various user interface properties. With matrix algebra, we are able to undertake with ease unusally thorough reviews of real user interfaces: this article examines a mobile phone, a handheld calculator and a digital multimeter as case studies, and draws general conclusions about the approach and its relevance to design.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or ACM Press

 Cited in the following chapter:

Philosophy of Interaction: [/encyclopedia/philosophy_of_interaction.html]


 
 Cited in the following chapter:

Philosophy of Interaction: [/encyclopedia/philosophy_of_interaction.html]


 
2003
 
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Jones, Matt, Buchanan, George and Thimbleby, Harold (2003): Improving web search on small screen devices. In Interacting with Computers, 15 (4) pp. 479-495.

Small handheld devices -- mobile phones, Pocket PCs etc. -- are increasingly being used to access the web. Search engines are the most used web services and are an important factor of user support. Search engine providers have begun to offer their services on the small screen. This paper presents a detailed evaluation of the how easy to use such services are in these new contexts. An experiment was carried out to compare users' abilities to complete search tasks using a mobile phone-sized, handheld computer-sized and conventional, desktop interface to the full Google index. With all three interfaces, when users succeed in completing a task, they do so quickly (within 2-3 min) and using few interactions with the search engine. When they fail, though, they fail badly. The paper examines the causes of failures in small screen searching and proposes guidelines for improving these interfaces. In addition, we present and discuss novel interaction schemes that put these guidelines into practice.

© All rights reserved Jones et al. and/or Elsevier Science

2002
 
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Thimbleby, Harold, Blandford, Ann, Cairns, P., Curzon, P. and Jones, M. (2002): User Interface Design as Systems Design. In: Faulkner, Xristine, Finlay, Janet and Détienne, Françoise (eds.) Proceedings of the HCI02 Conference on People and Computers XVI September 18-20, 2002, Pisa, Italy. pp. 281-302.

2001
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (2001): Permissive User Interfaces. In International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 54 (3) pp. 333-350.

User interfaces often only support one way to do a task when the physical interface or the requirements of the task would permit other ways. In contrast, a user interface that supports multiple approaches is permissive. This paper argues that permissive user interfaces are easier to use-and even when they are not applicable for particular applications, considering permissiveness is a productive design heuristic. Many user interfaces are difficult to use yet very easily demonstrated or explained by experts-with the results that users become frustrated because hindsight makes usability problems look like the user's own fault. The lack of permissiveness in such user interfaces explains this paradox.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Academic Press

 
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Thimbleby, Harold, Cairns, Paul and Jones, Matt (2001): Usability analysis with Markov models. In ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 8 (2) pp. 99-132. Available online

How hard to users to find interactive devices to use to achieve their goals, and how can we get this information early enough to influence design? We show that Markov modeling can obtain suitable measures, and we provide formulas that can be used for a large class of systems. We analyze and consider alternative designs for various real examples. We introduce a "knowldege/usability graph," which shows the impact of even a smaller amount of knowledge for the user, and the extent to which designers' knowledge may bias their views of usability. Markov models can be built into design tools, and can therefore be made very convenient for designers to utilize. One would hope that in the future, design tools would include such mathematical analysis, and no new design skills would be required to evaluate devices. A particular concern of this paper is to make the approach accessible. Complete program code and all the underlying mathematics are provided in appendices to enable others to replicate and test all results shown.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Theng, Yin Leng, Mohd-Nasir, Norliza, Buchanan, George, Fields, Bob, Thimbleby, Harold, Cassidy, Noel and Cassidy, Noel (2001): Dynamic Digital Libraries for Children. In: JCDL01: Proceedings of the 1st ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries 2001. pp. 406-415. Available online

The majority of current digital libraries (DLs) are not designed for children. For DLs to be popular with children, they need to be fun, easy-to-use and empower them, whether as readers or authors. This paper describes a new children's DL emphasizing its design and evaluation, working with the children (11-14 year olds) as design partners and testers. A truly participatory process was used, and observational study was used as a means of refinement to the initial design of the DL prototype. In contrast with current DLs, the children's DL provides both a static as well as a dynamic environment to encourage active engagement of children in using it. Design, implementation and security issues are also raised.

© All rights reserved Theng et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Buchanan, George, Farrant, Sarah, Jones, Matt, Thimbleby, Harold, Marsden, Gary and Pazzani, Michael (2001): Improving mobile internet usability. In: Proceedings of the 2001 International Conference on the World Wide Web 2001. pp. 673-680. Available online

2000
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (2000): Calculators are Needlessly Bad. In International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 52 (6) pp. 1031-1069.

In the two decades hand-held calculators have been readily available, there has been ample time to develop a usable design and to educate the consumer public into choosing quality devices. This article reviews a representative calculator that is "state of the art" and shows it has an execrable design. The design is shown to be confusing and essentially non-mathematical. Substantial evidence is presented that illustrates the inadequate documentation, bad implementation, feature interaction, and feature incoherence. These problems are shown to be typical of calculators generally. Despite the domain (arithmetic) being well defined, the design problems are profound, widespread, confusing-and needless. Worrying questions are begged: about design quality control, about consumer behaviour, and about the role of education-both at school level (training children to acquiesce to bad design) and at university level (training professionals to design unusable products). The article concludes with recommendations. "The problem of efficient and uniform notations is perhaps the most serious one facing the mathematical public." Florian Cajori (1993) "[. . .] contrivances adapted to peculiar purposes [. . .] and what is worse than all, a profusion of notations (when we regard the whole science) which threaten, if not duly corrected, to multiply our difficulties instead of promoting our progress." Charles Babbage, quoted in Cajori (1993).

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Academic Press

 
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Theng, Yin Leng, Mohd-Nasir, Norliza and Thimbleby, Harold (2000): Purpose and Usability of Digital Libraries. In: DL00: Proceedings of the 5th ACM International Conference on Digital Libraries 2000. pp. 238-239. Available online

A preliminary study was conducted to help understand the purpose of digital libraries (DLs) and to investigate whether meaningful results could be obtained from small user studies of digital libraries. Results stress the importance of mental models, and of "traditional" library support.

© All rights reserved Theng et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Theng, Yin Leng, Mohd-Nasir, Norliza, Thimbleby, Harold, Buchanan, George and Jones, Matthew (2000): Designing a Children's Digital Library With and For Children. In: DL00: Proceedings of the 5th ACM International Conference on Digital Libraries 2000. pp. 266-267. Available online

This paper describes preliminary work carried out to design a children's digital library of stories and poems with and for children aged 11-14 years old. We describe our experience in engaging children as design partners, and propose a digital library environment and design features to provide an engaging, successful learning experience for children using it for collaborative writing.

© All rights reserved Theng et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Thimbleby, Harold (2000): Analysis and Simulation of User Interfaces. In: Proceedings of the HCI00 Conference on People and Computers XIV 2000. pp. 221-238.

1999
 
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Buchanan, George, Marsden, Gil and Thimbleby, Harold (1999): Dynamic Metadata for Monitoring Digital Library Management. In: DL99: Proceedings of the 4th ACM International Conference on Digital Libraries 1999. pp. 219-220. Available online

1997
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1997): Gentler: A Tool for Systematic Web Authoring. In International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 47 (1) pp. 139-168. Available online

We argue, with theoretical justification, that authoring hypertext and World Wide Web documents requires tool support if it is to be done well. Tools are essential for good design; without them iterative design and user testing are impractical to follow through because of the prohibitive costs of making even small changes reliably. Gentler is one such authoring tool. It uses a database of pages and a page layout language, providing reliable design features including hypertext linkage and navigation. With Gentler as a concrete example, we introduce an important principle for design: dual requirements. Features that hypertext document readers find beneficial are beneficial for document authors, and vice versa.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Academic Press

 
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Thimbleby, Harold, O'Conaill, Brid and Thomas, Peter J. (eds.) Proceedings of the Twelfth Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group - People and Computers XII August, 1997, Bristol, England, UK.

 
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Theng, Yin Leng, Rigny, Cecile, Thimbleby, Harold and Jones, Matthew (1997): HyperAT: HCI and Web Authoring. In: Thimbleby, Harold, O'Conaill, Brid and Thomas, Peter J. (eds.) Proceedings of the Twelfth Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group - People and Computers XII August, 1997, Bristol, England, UK. pp. 359-378.

We review HCI problems with hypertext, and for authoring World Wide Web documents in particular. We suggest that a framework is required to understand the usability issues, and that these issues cannot be seen as psychological or computing: they are multi-disciplinary. We discuss HyperAT, a prototype authoring tool, being implemented to test these ideas.

© All rights reserved Theng et al. and/or Springer Verlag

1996
 
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Thimbleby, Harold and Addison, Mark (1996): Intelligent Adaptive Assistance and its Automatic Generation. In Interacting with Computers, 8 (1) pp. 51-68.

Manuals and interactive help are tedious to provide, difficult to maintain, and difficult to ensure that they remain correct, even for simple systems. The result is a loss in product quality, felt particularly by users and designers committed to long-term product development. The paper shows that it is possible to systematically put a system specification and its documentation into exact correspondence. It follows that much previously manual work can be done automatically and with considerable advantages, including guaranteed correctness and completeness, as well as supporting powerful new features such as intelligent adaptive assistance. This paper shows how interactive assistance can be provided to answer 'how to?', 'why not?' and other questions.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and Addison and/or Elsevier Science

1995
 
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Thimbleby, Harold and Addison, Mark (1995): HyperDoc: An Interactive Systems Tool. In: Kirby, M. A. R., Dix, Alan J. and Finlay, Janet E. (eds.) Proceedings of the Tenth Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group - People and Computers X August, 1995, Huddersfield, UK. pp. 95-106.

HyperDoc is an interactive development tool for designing interactive devices. Although HyperDoc's main purpose is to help design and analyse interactive devices and their manuals, it can also be used to investigate and demonstrate interactive help. HyperDoc itself represents a future user interface for many types of interactive consumer products, such as VCRs and TVs. Exciting developments of HyperDoc include integrating it as an operating system primitive, thus ensuring all systems can be both well-designed and well-documented. Introduction Background Quick HyperDoc Overview HyperDoc: The System Notes on Finite State Machines Simulation Environment User Manual Production Interactive Help/Assistance Assistance: Teaching and Doing -- and Designing HyperDoc's Assistance How to? Where am I? What now? How do I go back? Why? Why not? Tasks State Map (Finite State Machine) Future Perspectives Flexible Manual Structures Conclusions

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and Addison and/or Cambridge University Press

 
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Thimbleby, Harold and Ladkin, Peter B. (1995): A Proper Explanation When You Need One. In: Kirby, M. A. R., Dix, Alan J. and Finlay, Janet E. (eds.) Proceedings of the Tenth Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group - People and Computers X August, 1995, Huddersfield, UK. pp. 107-118.

Quality program design has received considerable attention from the software engineering community. Quality user manual design has received considerable attention from the human computer interaction community. Yet manuals and systems are often independently conceived, and thus do not well complement each other. This paper shows one method of easily obtaining correct and complete user manuals guaranteed to correspond with the system they document. The method has considerable merit for improving interactive systems design.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and Ladkin and/or Cambridge University Press

1994
 
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Addison, Mark and Thimbleby, Harold (1994): Manuals as Structured Programs. In: Cockton, Gilbert, Draper, Steven and Weir, George R. S. (eds.) Proceedings of the Ninth Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group - People and Computers IX August 23-26, 1994, Glasgow, Scotland, UK. pp. 67-79.

A user manual may provide instructions that, if the user follows them, achieve any of certain objectives as determined by the manual designers. A manual may therefore be viewed rather like a computer program, as pre-planned instructions. Accordingly, software engineering and its methods may be applied mutatis mutandis to the manual and its design process. We consider structured programming methods, and show that some difficulties with user interfaces may be attributed to manuals being 'unstructured'. Since there are many programming metrics, and very many styles of manuals for user interfaces, this paper is concerned with justifying the approach and showing how insightful it is.

© All rights reserved Addison and Thimbleby and/or Cambridge University Press

 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1994): Formulating Usability. In ACM SIGCHI Bulletin, 26 (2) pp. 59-64.

1993
 
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Thimbleby, Harold and Thimbleby, Will (1993): Solutioneering in User Interface Design. In Behaviour and Information Technology, 12 (3) pp. 190-193.

The aim of this paper is to encourage more considered design by discussing one of the consequences of narrow problem solving. We discuss a way in which designers solve their own problems, rather than address broader issues of user-centred design. We use the term 'solutioneering' for this. Having available a word for an attitude helps it to be mastered consciously.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and Thimbleby and/or Taylor and Francis

 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1993): Combining Systems and Manuals. In: Alty, James L., Diaper, Dan and Guest, D. (eds.) Proceedings of the Eighth Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group - People and Computers VIII August 7-10, 1993, Loughborough University, UK. pp. 479-488.

Like many interactive systems, hypertext is operated by button pressing. It is therefore possible to combine an interactive system with its own hypertext manual. Numerous advantages follow: adaptive intelligent interactive help; correct documentation, in natural or mathematical language; automatic generation of conventional manuals optimised for various tasks; and detailed analysis. This paper motivates the approach, and describes a representative system, Hyperdoc. Hyperdoc enables research questions about good user interfaces and good user manuals to be investigated.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Cambridge University Press

 
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Cockburn, Andy and Thimbleby, Harold (1993): Reducing User Effort in Collaboration Support. In: Gray, Wayne D., Hefley, William and Murray, Dianne (eds.) International Workshop on Intelligent User Interfaces 1993 January 4-7, 1993, Orlando, Florida, USA. pp. 215-218. Available online

The value of electronic mail as a medium for collaborative and coordinated work can be enhanced by relating messages to conversations. While some groupware systems have offered such facilities, their ability to assess conversational context is dependent on explicit user action and the use of specific systems by all collaborators. This paper describes Mona, a novel conversation based email platform. Mona provides a hypertext representation of conversational context without requiring any additional effort from the user or the use of specific email systems by other collaborators. Mona's lack of requirements and independence is made possible by inferring conversational context with heuristics using information inherently transferred in all email communications. Mona's heuristics are described, as are its mechanisms for personalising conversation views.

© All rights reserved Cockburn and Thimbleby and/or ACM Press

1992
 
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Cockburn, Andy and Thimbleby, Harold (1992): Automatic Conversational Context: Avoiding Dependency on User Effort in Groupware. In: Proceedings of OZCHI92, the CHISIG Annual Conference on Human-Computer Interaction 1992. pp. 142-149.

Relating individual messages to their on-going conversations enhances the value of electronic mail as a medium for collaborative and coordinated work. Some groupware systems have offered these facilities, but their ability to determine conversational context is dependent on explicit user actions -- being told -- and the use of specific systems by all users involved. This paper describes Mona, an email system that provides an automatic hypertext representation of conversational context. Mona is novel in that conversation facilities are provided without requiring any user effort or the use of particular systems by other collaborators. This lack of requirements and independence is made possible by inferring conversational context with heuristics from information inherent in all email communications. Mona's heuristics are described, together with its central design motivation: that the cost/benefit disparity resulting from dependency on user actions is liable to cause system rejection.

© All rights reserved Cockburn and Thimbleby and/or ACM Press

1991
 
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Witten, Ian H., Thimbleby, Harold, Coulouris, G. F. and Greenberg, Saul (1991): Liveware: A New Approach to Sharing Data in Social Networks. In International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 34 (3) pp. 337-348.

While most schemes that support information sharing on computers rely on formal protocols, in practice much cooperative work takes place using informal means of communication, even chance encounters. This paper proposes a new method of enabling information sharing in loosely-couple socially-organized systems, typically involving personal rather than institutional computers and lacking the network infrastructure that is generally taken for granted in distributed computing. It is based on the idea of arranging for information transmission to take place as an unobtrusive side-effect of interpersonal communication. Update conflicts are avoided by an information ownership scheme. Under mild assumptions, we show how the distributed database satisfies the property of observational consistency. The new idea, called "Liveware", is not so much a specific piece of technology as a fresh perspective on information sharing that stimulates new ways of solving old problems. Being general, it transcends particular distribution technologies. A prototype database, implemented in HyperCard and taking the form of an electronic directory, utilizes the medium of floppy disk to spread information in a (benign!) virus-like manner.

© All rights reserved Witten et al. and/or Academic Press

 
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Cockburn, Andrew J. G. and Thimbleby, Harold (1991): A Reflective Perspective of CSCW. In ACM SIGCHI Bulletin, 23 (3) pp. 63-68.

Personal computing has had a major effect on the way that many people work; whole organisations have been revolutionised by tools such as filing systems and word processors. Whilst personal computing has enhanced the execution of work it has largely failed to support the cooperative environment in which it is done. CSCW (Computer Supported Cooperative Work) aims to remove this artificial division caused by the systemic focus on the single user and to replace it with systems supporting the wider, social, web of cooperation. Unfortunately CSCW in practice has failed in this task. This paper briefly discusses the reasons for this failure, and proposes a "reflexive perspective" of CSCW as an emphasis shift in current CSCW research which, it is argued and demonstrated by example, will result in greater success for future cooperative systems.

© All rights reserved Cockburn and Thimbleby and/or ACM Press

1990
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1990): User Interface Design. Reading, MA, ACM Press

 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1990): You're Right About the Cure: Don't Do That. In Interacting with Computers, 2 (1) pp. 8-25.

A major factor of system usability is whether the system works at all. This paper discusses bugs and the social environment that allows and encourages them to exist. Many bugs are known about and accepted when software is released to users. They could have been corrected if there had been any motivation to do so. Although individual programmers are often responsible for bugs, various forces within the computing industry, including mistrust of users, drive software manufacturers to strategies that exacerbate the problems. Such methods as software manufacturers adopt 'in defence' not only work against users but also undermine scientific work, which in turn retards the advancement of HCI generally.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Elsevier Science

 
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Thimbleby, Harold, Anderson, Stuart and Witten, Ian H. (1990): Reflexive CSCW: Supporting Long-Term Personal Work. In Interacting with Computers, 2 (3) pp. 330-336.

CSCW (computer-supported cooperative work) is an active research area with many promising applications and benefits. We argue that the plight of the individual user can also be viewed as a CSCW problem, for the individual frequently acts as multiple persona: performing many independent tasks, perhaps in several places. We propose reflexive CSCW to address such issues. Solutions in the reflexive case will of course be of benefit to users even if they are working in a conventional multi-user CSCW context; proposed solutions in CSCW can be re-presented for individual users.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby et al. and/or Elsevier Science

 
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Harrison, Michael and Thimbleby, Harold (eds.) (1990): Formal Methods in Human-Computer Interaction. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press

 
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Harrison, Michael D. and Thimbleby, Harold (1990): Formal Methods in Human-Computer Interaction (Cambridge Series on Human-Computer Interaction). Cambridge University Press

1989
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1989): Bugs: The Issue Facing HCI. In: Sutcliffe, Alistair G. and Macauley, Linda (eds.) Proceedings of the Fifth Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group - People and Computers V August 5-8, 1989, University of Nottingham, UK. pp. 105-107.

1987
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1987): A Menu Selection Algorithm. In Behaviour and Information Technology, 6 (1) pp. 89-94.

A simple algorithm for menu selection, which enhances existing methods for small menus (e.g., fewer than 20 entries) is discussed. Algorithms are presented in Pascal.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Taylor and Francis

1986
 
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Runciman, Colin and Thimbleby, Harold (1986): Equal Opportunity Interactive Systems. In International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 25 (4) pp. 439-451.

One view of interactive computer systems is that the user, having problems to solve, supplies the "givens" of these problems to the machine, which in response supplies as output the "unknowns". Reassigning or discarding these labels "givens" and "unknown" is a time-honoured heuristic for problem-solving. Also, people seem to prefer interpretations without such labels for fast interactive systems, and mere speed in systems that do embody fixed distinctions between input and output often contributes little towards ease of use -- it may only serve to emphasize a frustrating mechanical dumbness. We therefore apply the same heuristic to the design of interactive computer systems, noting that a number of existing successful interactive system styles can be viewed as the outcome if this approach.

© All rights reserved Runciman and Thimbleby and/or Academic Press

 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1986): Ease of Use -- The Ultimate Deception. In: Harrison, Michael D. and Monk, Andrew (eds.) Proceedings of the Second Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group - People and Computers II August 23-26, 1986, University of York, UK. pp. 78-94.

A correspondence is drawn between the historical development of mathematics and the development of users' conceptual models of interactive computer systems. Many mathematical concepts took centuries to resolve but computer users are often expected to handle comparable issues much more rapidly. Insights into user interface issues are drawn from non-standard analysis and non-Euclidean geometry. Mindful of Godel, I argue that if a system is sufficiently powerful to be 'easy to use' this implies it is sufficient to confuse.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Cambridge University Press

 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1986): The Design of Two Innovative User Interfaces. In: Harrison, Michael D. and Monk, Andrew (eds.) Proceedings of the Second Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group - People and Computers II August 23-26, 1986, University of York, UK. pp. 336-351.

Two innovative user interfaces are described: one for an arithmetic calculator and one for a spreadsheet. The emphasis of the paper is on the designs themselves and on the underlying rationale. The interfaces were developed methodically, using a heuristic of property closure. User interface issues which arise are discussed and include: equal opportunity, declarative conceptual models, non-determinism, and implied task domain.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Cambridge University Press

1985
 
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Harrison, Michael D. and Thimbleby, Harold (1985): Formalising Guidelines for the Design of Interactive Systems. In: Johnson, Peter and Cook, Stephen (eds.) Proceedings of the Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group - People and Computers I August 17-20, 1985, University of East Anglia. pp. 161-171.

User engineering principles may be formalised as theorems over specifications of interactive systems. In this paper we discuss some different categories of user engineering principle and expose issues that must be resolved to produce effective formalisation.

© All rights reserved Harrison and Thimbleby and/or Cambridge University Press

1984
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1984): Generative User-Engineering Principles for User Interface Design. In: Shackel, Brian (ed.) INTERACT 84 - 1st IFIP International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction September 4-7, 1984, London, UK. pp. 661-666.

Generative user-engineering principles are assertions about interactive system behaviour and have equivalent colloquial forms. Current work shows that they are a promising contribution to the design of acceptable user interfaces, because they effectively bridge the conceptual gap between designer and user. In colloquial form a generative user-engineering principle can be used to help clarify requirements in participative design, or to explicate documentation. In rigorous form, generative user-engineering principles provide a constructive higher order consistency on user interfaces.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or North-Holland

1983
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1983): Guidelines for 'Manipulative' Text Editing. In Behaviour and Information Technology, 2 (2) pp. 127-161.

The term 'manipulative' text editing is introduced to describe the low level aspect of text input/editing user interfaces, where editing commands are almost entirely manipulative rather than symbolic, primarily for editing at a word and character level. Manipulative editing covers the use of function keys such as 'rubout', cursor motion and various methods for inserting text. A variety of methods commonly used for manipulative editing are critically reviewed in order to gather together a number of relevant guidelines. This paper proposes the basis for an effective standard which encourages the ready acquisition of skill.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Taylor and Francis

1982
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1982): Character Level Ambiguity: Consequences for User Interface Design. In International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 16 (2) pp. 211-225.

Certain user interface functions require single- or few-character interactions and in some systems the number of functions which is made available exceeds the number of suitable key combinations. Hence modes are introduced; keys can be given different interpretations in different modes. But this is a source of user interface ambiguity; if there are too many frequently-used modes then the user can make errors all too easily. Definite user interface techniques, which are discussed, can be chosen to increase ease of use/user satisfaction: for instance, by reducing the number of necessary modes or the consequences of user typing errors. To make an interface consistent and predictable requires considerable effort, even if only at this level of single character semantics.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Academic Press

1980
 
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Thimbleby, Harold (1980): Dialogue Determination. In International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 13 (3) pp. 295-304.

A new term, determination, is introduced to help describe the quality of interactive systems' user interfaces. A well determining interface is neither too under-determining nor too over-determining for its user; under-determination can be brought about by excessive secrecy and over-determination by excessive authoritarianism on the part of the computer (or its programmers). The concept is used to elucidate several important aspects of effective interaction. Determination is not solely a property of system design but depends on the experience and values of the user.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and/or Academic Press

 
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