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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Maintaining a User Interface with Rapidly Changing Software Technology

Authors
item Hanson, Jonathan
item Vandenberg, Bruce

Submitted to: Modular Modeling Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 3, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Computer software users are no longer willing to use scientific software without an eay to use interface. Consequently, develpers must be aware of the problems associated with the development of such sortware especially in light of rapidly changing technologies. Considerations during software development include more frequent updates, differences in operating systems, rapidly changing development tools, use of custom controls, and the development of extensive help systems. Developers must also consider the maintainability of the software. Maintenance concerns include changes in the target operating system, use of DLL's, choosing the appropriate development software, using new versions of the development software and operating system, following proper design principles, using software extensions, code portability, and complete project documentation.

Technical Abstract: Much time and money has been spent on developing scientific software for simulating the interactions of many physical and biological processes. The result has been the development of several large simulation models. Until recently, little time or money has been spent making these simulation models easy to use. Consequently, some very good programs are not in use. Many critics of scientific software point directly at the inability of the novice to use these programs as their primary limitation. Software is currently available that makes the development of program user interfaces almost effortless. The user interface (UI) is the part of a program that allows the user to enter and edit data used by the program and to control the manner in which the program operates on that data. Maintaining a UI with changing technology has always been a great challenge to application developers. It became even more difficult with the release of Window/ X-Windows operating systems in the 80's. Until the release of Java, the mainframe/UNIX environment was relatively slow in comparison to the personal computer (PC) environment to change UI developmetn packages. But with the advent of Java, UNIX developers face the same challenges PC developers have faced since the release of Windows NT/95. These rapidly and constantly changing development packages have forced new considerations for the developer.

Last Modified: 11/23/2014
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