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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Inside the Factory: User Performance

Repost: http://insidethefactory.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/08/user-performance.html

Recent releases of Revit have focused on performance and this effort will continue into the future. These efforts come in two forms: Machine Performance and User Performance.

Machine Performance specifically refers to the time it takes the system to respond to a user action. Examples are faster graphics, improved start-up times, and quicker file open. Many strategies are employed by factory workers such as code optimization, memory optimization, and multi-threading. These are very cool meetings where half the words spoken are computer jargon. Greps, Atoms, ect.. We test code changes with large customer data sets and produce amazing charts and graphs. There is now even a dedicated performance farm. I'll share more in future posts for the curious.

User Performance measures the time it takes you to understand and respond to a machine signal. Work has been done here as well. The ability to create more shortcuts to commands or work mode-less with properties are examples. Sometimes it's very subtle such as limiting the amount of data presented at a single time or making it easier to scan a list. Human Factors guidelines, patterns, and flow charts rule here.

In this post I am soliciting examples of what internally we call "Point of Use". Way back in release seven or eight we enabled it so you could jump from one place in the UI to another from property fields. The best example is material. From any element material field if you want to view details of this material or define a new one on the fly you can jump to the material dialog and later return.

Pofu

At the time Revit was full of dead ends. You would be in a place, decide you need something new defined, back-out, create the new item, and return to the previous location. drill down, back out, drill down, back out..repeat. No good for user performance.

Progress was made then yet some of these remain. Once example is you can't load a new profile from the internal wall sweep dialog - you must exit, load the profile, and return to the dialog.

I have a list going of these but wanted to solicit examples from you mostly because I am interested in which ones are the most painful/memorable/frequently encountered. Each of these require a specific fix by different code owners so it's not easy to make a global change. Instead its a continual effort to knock them off. A similar approach was used for dialog re-sizing. 2011 got many but a few (hopefully lower frequency dialogs) remain. We'll get them to in time.

Where do you recall you need to back out of a dialog more often?

_erik

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>Inside the Factory: User Performance

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