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am 8. Januar 2000
I very much enjoyed Software for Use. When I got the book, I read it from cover to cover. Now, six months later, I still turn to it regularly as I develop use cases for our application - especially when I'm working on the user interface for each use case.
You might expect that anything from Larry Constantine would be terrific and again he - this time with equally adept co-author Lucy Lockwood - hasn't let us down. SfU (as it seems to be called in the chat groups) addresses one of the most under-addressed issues in our industry: Why is so much potentially useful software in fact useless because of its appalling user interfaces?
There are lots of valuable topics in this book. But probably the most valuable thing that I got from the book was a methodical approach to developing user interfaces, through the user role maps, task models, essential use cases, use case narrative, tools and materials and ... well, perhaps you should read the book!
If you're in the mood for some edutainment (i.e. cheap laughs while learning something handy), read the section on Web wisdom. There you'll find some wonderfully silly interface designs to avoid on your next e-commerce project.
Bottom line: I'll bet this book's on the way to becoming a classic. It's a "must read" for every software developer involved in any way with software that's meant to be used. And if you're actually charged with developing user interfaces, I'd say it's a "must own".
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am 27. Mai 1999
I've been an object-oriented bigot since the late eighties when I first stumbled on Betrand Meyer's "Old Testament" entitled: "Object Oriented Software Construction". Since then I have been on a continual methodology quest, picking and choosing what works from each methodology. When I finally came accross Larry's book it felt like coming home. He has doen an amazing job of amalgamating all the things that in my experience work. How many times have I argued with engineers about user interface design! How many times have they told me that they know better, and oh by the way, look at this cool feature we added (hit shift F6 and it does this...) This is the best book I have found so far when it comes to usage-centered design. I was lucky enough to be at the start of a new project and bought a copy of the book for every team member! This book has become our baseline and the quality of our software will reflect it. If you wan't to build better user interfaces you should buy this book!
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Software for Use by Larry Constantine and Lucy Lockwood is the top software book I have read in the last three years. It is a book that is as new as tomorrow, but it builds on decades of research and experience in user-interface design. Most people develop user interfaces by intuition, trying an approach and modifying it until no strong objections are breaking through. Some people call this approach "hacking". Software for Use describes a systematic approach to the design of user interfaces. It starts from the user, identifying the different user roles. For each user all use cases are identified and described. Initially the abstraction level is high, focusing on the essential use cases. Eventually the approach achieves a physical user interface . All the work to get there takes place very naturally. The authors make this work very concrete.
Knowing that in many application areas, such as web-design or consumer electronics, the effort in designing the user interface is more than 50% of the work in developing applications, this is a book that I highly recommend every software developer and their managers to read. The Software for Use book is already a classic.
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am 12. August 1999
After reading a couple of good reviews and being familiar with Constantine's writing I was sure this book would be great. However, the authors seem to have fallen in love with their own writing. The text is very well written, even elegant, but it could easily have been written in half the pages. One of the central themes of the book is deriving "Essential Use Cases" or in other words Use Cases with just the essential elements. Unfortunately the authors have not taken their own advice and instead created a book with so much verbiage that it reads like a doctoral dissertation. The end result is that the useful information is lost in sea of excess text. If you are a in the trenches software engineer/programmer then you will find this book more effort then it is worth. However, if you have the title of Usability Engineer in a large company then you will probably fine this book delightful.
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am 4. September 1999
Perseverence is required, as the text is a little dry and verbose. However, there are too many leading edge ideas to score it other than full marks. Advances the state-of-the-art in systems engineering by promoting thorough requirements engineering using interaction neutral Essential Use Cases and then good quality Interaction Design as an integrated part of the lifecycle
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am 30. April 2000
I have heard very good things about this book and I already own it for 6 months. Still I haven't been able to read more than the first 100 pages. I generally have no trouble reading books that are written in English but this one is extremely hard to read. The sentences are way to long and a lot of the used words are unknown to foreign people. I also feel that the information could be presented in a better way. I rate 2 stars because I like what I have been able to read.
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