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Here are some useful references, resources, and definitions for GUI development. When I have time, I'll add web links for useful design sites.

Design Rants: Introduction
 + Life with HTML
 + Basic Text Design
 + Visual Chaos
 + Common Web Page Problems
UI Design for Bean-Counters
Modern Software Design, Part 1
Modern Software Design, Part 2
a Brief History of GUI
GUI Design Checklists
GUI References and Bibliography
Office Ergonomics

Technical Glossary Roots of Multimedia: Computer Based Training
(Analog) NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) video is 425 lines high 30 frames per second, interlaced images. Approximately 400 lines horizontal resolution, varies according to equipment.
(Digital/Analog) Developed by Philips/Magnavox in 1970s, CLV (Constant Linear Velocity, 20 min/side) and CAV (Constant Angular Velocity, 45 min/side) discs available, both run on same players. CLV has index capabilities. LD offers better-than-broadcast quality video and sound playback. Approximately 450 lines horizontal resolution, varies according to equipment.
THE PAST: PC breakthroughs
(Macintosh, 1985) first widely distributed easy authoring tool, 1-bit graphics, Hypertext-like scripting language, graphical interface
Digital Color Standards:
Speed increases lead to more resolution (size of image) and depth (number of colors). Refresh rate is different from NTSC, varies from 60 to 90 Hz (frames per second, expressed as Physics measurement for frequency, Hertz)

    1 bit = Black and White
    4 bit black and white = Greyscale
    4 bit color = 16 colors
    8 bit color = 256 colors
    16 bit, 24 bit truecolor.

Digital Audio Standards
IBM based PC's had little sound capability beyond alarm beeps. Apple pioneered sound drivers and useful sound editing in the 80's Macintosh line. Digital sound is 'sampled' from analog sources at different rates and different resolutions, depending on the source, effects, and storage limitations. Common sampling resolutions are 8 bits, 16 bits, and 32 bits; sampling rates range from 5 kHz to 44.1 kHz. (CD audio is 44 kHz @ 16 bit resolution)
Macromind Director
(Macintosh, 1989) first widely distributed color authoring tool, originally written for video storyboarding, later Macromind added automated transitions, run-time version, scripting.
(Macintosh, 1991) first widely distributed software codec (Compression and DECompression) adjusts frame rate to match PC capabilities, syncs with soundtrack.
Motion JPEG
(Joint Picture Experts Group) International standards committee develops Still frame digital picture standard, later amended for algorithm motion capability. Intraframe compression only (JPEG looks for sets of pixels in an image that contain identical or very similar data) Hardware codec has low compression ratio and high data rate. NO AUDIO support
Video Input Cards
(Mac, 1991) Inexpensive video digitization makes multimedia development possible on nearly any Mac II or better.
Standard emerges in late 80's, High Sierra, etc. Windows diverges from Mac standard. Some Publishers have both Mac and Windows product on the same disc. Important difference: Macs can execute from CD-ROM without copying setup to CPU drive, Windows PC's cannot.
THE PRESENT: Current Technologies
(Asynchronous Download ??) Bell Labs developed method for compressing data bursts over standard twisted pair into homes, originally developed for on-demand video applications. Requires special modem hardware. 'Intermediate' broadband.
(Asynchronous Transfer Mode) very fast networks and optical fiber links will allow broadband communication and high-quality image transfer.
Microsoft/Intel attempt to duplicate QuickTime (no Mac version) Playback is scaleable from 160 x 120 to 320 x 240 at 15 to 30 fps.
(Digital Video Interactive) Intel hardware codec using add-on card has two levels: PLV (Presentation Level Video) must be compressed at a service bureau, RTV (Real time Video) can be compressed on machine, but has 'inferior quality'. being replaced by Indeo.
Bigger and better now, Cross platform development favorite of MM community (which is Mac-centric), slow for calculations and database access front-end work. Shockwave and Flash technologies allow web delivery. Flash is streaming version.
Multiple speed debate: Single Speed = 150 kbps, Double Speed = 300 kbps, up to 32x available now. Usefulness depends on type of data, speed of bus/connection, and speed of host processor/graphics engine. Most non-gaming software is optimized to 2x transfer rate.
Digital Video Disc, originally due mid 1996. MPEG 2 CD-sized disks with 3.7 - 5 GB per side (up to 10 MB total). There were two competing standards: Sony/Philips was 2 x 3.7 GB nested layers an same side of disc; Toshiba/Time-Warner is two sided with 5 GB per side (Matsushita variant is 4.5 GB per side). Standards were not compatible, both would probably play CDs and CD-ROMs. Negotiations followed, with the Toshiba compression combined with dual layers for up to 11 GB per side. Acronym changes to 'Digital Versatile Disc' and initial players and software were released in early 1997. DVD players for computers released in early 1998, uncertain market penetration.
(Intel) codec standard using Hardware for real-time compression and Software for decompression; playback is scaleable depending on power of CPU.
Intraframe Compression
Compression of a single image. JPEG compression.
Interframe Compression
Compression between images, also called delta encoding (delta = changes). For animation with slow pans, or a stationary person talking, this can be very efficient. MPEG uses both Intra- and Interfame compression.
LZW Compression
(Unisys Corporation) Widely used compression algorithm for 8-bit color or greyscale bitmaps, patent owned by Unisys; this is the part of the GIF file algorithms that caused all the controversy for CompuServe. LZW builds a table of data that represent repeating patterns in a file, so, it gets best results with highly patterned images, poor compression with unpatterned images like scanned photos.
(Multimedia Products Committee) Industry standard for Windows multimedia platforms, includes Single-speed CD-ROM, VGA graphics card, 386SX or better, 4 MB RAM, DOS 3.1 or higher, Mouse, Windows 3.1, 8 bit sound card.
ca. 1993 Above standard platform with 16 bit sound card, Double-speed CD-ROM, 486DX25 (4/160) or better.
Published June 1995. Pentium 75mhz (8/540), Quad-speed CD-ROM, 16 bit sound with Wave tables, VGA 65,000 colors, MPEG 1 decompression
(Motion Picture Experts Group) codec optimized for 150 kbps source, includes both interframe and intraframe compression, with interleaved audio, includes embedded timing data. Open standard. Hardware is required for playback ($300), 352 x 240 at 30 fps. Compression by service bureaus is $35/minute finished video. 9 MB/minute video compressed.
Planned to allow HDTV playback. 720 x 480 resolution at 30 fps, requires high bandwidth network and/or optimized hardware. This is the transmission standard for Digital Satellite Systems (DSS, those cute little dishes), and for DVD players (see above).
(Open Media Framework) Silicon Graphics/Avid/OSC developed this standard for storing and exchanging compressed or uncompressed audio, video, or graphics. OMF remembers the creator app and includes information on how the file should playback and work with other files.
QuickTime for Windows and Mac
Apple develops cross platform standard based on improved QuickTime Algorithms. Loaded as system extension on Mac, .DLL in Windows, allows use of animation without hardware decompression--works better with more powerful processors. Playback is scaleable from 160x120 to 320 x 240 pixels, 15 to 24 fps (frames per second).
Visual Basic
Windows development tools can run QuickTime and AVI clips as .exe calls, used for some authoring development. Microsoft renamed Visual Basic DDE linking as ActiveX and embedded it into Internet Explorer in 1997.
Bibliography References and Resources
Human-Computer Interface Design Guidelines, C. Marlin 'Lin' Brown,
1988 Ablex Publishing Corporation, Norwood, NJ $53
ISBN 0-89391-332-4
Textbook, lots of examples but slow reading.
The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design, edited by Brenda Laurel,
1990 Addison-Wesley Publishing Company $31
ISBN 0-201-51797-3
Classic collection of essays on the Apple interface and its philosophy.
Computers as Theatre, edited by Brenda Laurel,
1993 Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, $18
ISBN 0-201-55060-1
Based on comparing UI to classical theater staging, interesting premise.
Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines, Apple Computer, Inc.
1992 Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, $30
ISBN 0-201-62216-5
Must read this!
Graphic Design for Electronic Documents and User Interfaces,
Aaron Marcus
1991 ACM Press/Addison-Wesley Publishing Company
Designing the User Interface, Ben Schneiderman
1987, 1992 Addison-Wesley Publishing Company
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Edward R. Tufte,
1990 Graphics Press, Cheshire, CT $40
Classic text on simplifying information, designing charts and graphs.
It's Time to Clean Your Windows: Designing GUIs That Work,
Wilbert O. Galitz,
1994 John Wiley $45
Very dry, tough read.
The Psychology of Everyday Things, Donald Norman,
1988 Doubleday Publishing Company $25
ISBN 0-465-06709-3
Best of Norman's books, a noted thinker from Cognitive Psychology.
The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman,
(Paperback version of Psychology of Everyday Things)
1990 Doubleday Publishing Company $15
The marketing guys changed the name.
Turn Signals are the Facial Expressions of Automobiles,
Donald A Norman
1988 Addison-Wesley Publishing Company $25
ISBN 0-465-06709-3
Things That Make Us Smart,
Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine
, Donald Norman,
1993 Addison-Wesley Publishing Company $12
ISBN 0-201-62695-0
Set Phasers on Stun; and other true tales of design,
technology, and human error
, Stephen Casey
1993 Aegean Publishing $25
ISBN 0-9636178-7-7
18 short stories on human/technology interface error and its costs. Very fast read.
Alto: A personal computer, C.P. Thacker, E.M.McCreight, et al,
1979 Xerox Corporation, Palo Alto Research Center, Palo Alto, CA
Listing, Drawing, and Gesturing in Design: A Study of Shared Workspaces by Design teams, John C. Tang,
1989 Xerox Corporation, Palo Alto Research Center, Palo Alto, CA
Towards 'WYSIWYG' Color, Michael G. Lamming and Warren L. Rhodes,
1988 Xerox Corporation, Palo Alto Research Center, Palo Alto, CA
Microsoft Developer Network CD
1992-1994 Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA
Apple Developer CD Series:
Reference Library Edition
, March 1994
1994 Apple Computer, Inc., Cupertino, CA
Readings in Human-Computer Interaction:
A Multidisciplinary Approach
Ronald M Becker and William A S Buxton, editors,
1987 Morgan-Kaufman Publishers, Los Altos, CA, $45
ISBN 0-934613-24-9
Conference proceedings, varying quality and readability.
Readings in Human-Computer Interaction:
Toward the Year 2000
, Ronald M Baecker and William A S Buxton, editors,
1994 Morgan-Kaufman Publishers
Programming As If People Mattered:
Friendly Programs, Software Engineering, and Other Noble Delusions
Nathaniel S Borenstein,
1991 Princeton University Press, $15
ISBN 0-691-03763-9
Anecdotal and useful examples of UI design.
The Psychology of Human Computer Interaction,
S T Card, T P Moran, and A Newell,
1983 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, London
A Practical Guide to Usability Testing, Joseph S Dumas and Janice C Redish,
1993 Ablex Publishing Corporation, Norwood, NJ, $30
ISBN 0-89391-991-8
Very specific, somewhat dry, guide to testing.
Tog on Interface, Bruce Tognazzini,
1992 Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, $28
ISBN 0-201-60842-1
Apple veteran's collected columns on UI evangelism, very interesting.
Information Anxiety, Richard Saul Wurman
1989 Doubleday, $15
ISBN 0-553-34856-6
Ruminations by an architect on the value and states of information, interesting.
Debugging the Development Process, Steve Maguire
1994 Microsoft Press, $25
ISBN 1-55615-650-2
Managing software development
Insanely Great, Steven Levy
1994 Viking, $21
ISBN 0-670-85244-9
Development history of the Macintosh
Notes on the Synthesis of Form, Christopher Alexander
1964, Harvard University Press, Out of Print
Classic Architecture textbook on the design process.
The Mythical Man-Month, Essays on Software Engineering,
Frederick P. Brooks, Jr
1975, Addison-Wesley, $25
ISBN 0-201-00650-2
Incredibly long-lived, original book on mainframe software development.
Microcosm, George Gilder
1989 Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, $11
ISBN 0-671-70592-X
Sort of a manifesto of the information age.
The Elements of Friendly Software Design, Paul Heckel
1982 Warner Books, New Version out now
"Filled with cogent observations, and it has a really comprehensive list of good design principles." -Alan Cooper
Accidental Empires, How the boys of Silicon Valley make their millions, battle foreign competition, and still can't get a date.,
Robert X. Cringely
1992 Addison-Wesley
ISBN 0-88730-621-7
Keen observations on the the nature of programmers, other unique insights in a stew of tabloid journalism.
The Icon Book, Visual Symbols for Computer Systems and Documentation,
William Horton. includes 3.5" DOS Disk
1994 John Wiley, $40
ISBN 0-471-59901-8
Compehensive study of trivial part of software design.
More Like Us, Making America Great Again, James Fallows
1989 Houghton Mifflin
NPR commentator makes valuable comments on Far East v. Western attitudes and practices, especially good section on professional behavior.
The Psychology of Computer Programming, Gerald M. Weinberg
1971 Van Nostrand Reinhold
Check that date; its about the complicated act of programming, how programmers work, and the first age of team programming.
Inside Windows 95, Adrian King
1994 Microsoft Press, $23
ISBN 1-55615-626-X
Microsoft propaganda on Windows interface changes coming... in Windows95. Startlingly, in a book discussing principles of UI changes, only two references to Apple in the entire volume.
Understanding Hypermedia, Bob Cotton and Richard Oliver
1994 Phaidon, $23
ISBN 0-7148-2908-0
Strangely beautiful, new-style graphic layout, history of multimedia.
Communications of the ACM, publication of the Association for Computing Machinery.
Interactions, the quarterly publication of the SIGCHI, (Special Interest Group, Computer-Human Interactions) of the ACM.
Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry Magazine has nearly monthly columns on Quality, Human Factors, and Design.
Ergonomics in Design Magazine, the quarterly publication of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, has many articles on information systems and user interfaces.
Wired Magazine covers GUIs and emerging trends in hardware and software.
Contact Information eMail comments about this page to
Copyright 1995-2005, pRCarter.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
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Last Update: 11jan1999
Design Rants: Introduction
 + Life with HTML
 + Basic Text Design
 + Visual Chaos
 + Common Web Page Problems
UI Design for Bean-Counters
Modern Software Design, Part 1
Modern Software Design, Part 2
a Brief History of GUI
GUI Design Checklists
GUI References and Bibliography
Office Ergonomics