Sidebar API usability study

We just finished up a usability study investigating the new Sidebar and Tile APIs. We asked participants to write code to accomplish the following: Create a tile that says ‘Hello World’. Create a tile that displays an image covering the whole tile and that additionally displays a smaller image on top, only whenever the user…

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Using the cognitive dimensions, continued – learning style

Here’s the next howto on how to analyse an API using the cognitive dimensions framework. As always, your comments are much appreciated!   For each user goal that the API supports, describe the minimum understanding of the API that the user needs in order to accomplish that goal. The minimum understanding lists the classes or…

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More cognitive dimensions links

I should have posted these a while ago… Alan Blackwell works on the cognitive dimensions framework as part of his larger research program on the psychology of programming and has many useful links to papers etc on his page. Thomas Green originally developed the framework and has been the inspiration for a lot of the recent…

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Sign up for a usability study

If you’d like to get the chance to participate in an API usability study and give us your feedback about Avalon, Indigo, WinFS or other APIs, sign up as a usability participant at http://www.microsoft.com/usability/. We’re running studies fairly regularly (for example, next week we are running studies on the Avalon Sidebar API and on the…

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Using the cognitive dimensions framework to design usable APIs

A few weeks ago, I posted some details about the cognitive dimensions framework that we use at Microsoft when considering API usability. Up to now, we’ve been using it primarily to describe the results of studies done on APIs in our labs. What I’d really like to see though is different API teams being able…

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Experts and non experts

I had an interesting conversation with a colleague of mine last week. We were discussing the extent to which full details of a technology or feature should be exposed to end-users. We were discussing this issue in the context of the IDE specifically, and how details should be exposed in the UI, but the issue…

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