4.4.2.1 Our Approach

The operator’s interaction with the system provides a critical link in operational control centers. In adequacies in GUI’s have caused incidents to not be responded to; failed devices to go unrepaired; conflicting messages to be displayed on signs and in one case, snow warnings to be posted on a 60 degree sunny day long after the snow was gone.

The GUI for the CHART II system as shown in our prototype software is entirely new. It has been developed specifically to respond to the comments expressed by MDSHA staff during the development of this design. In addition, the design of this GUI has been significantly influenced by feedback the project team has obtained from a variety of users of other GUI’s that are currently operational in traffic control systems. The feedback from other users was in response to systems that had conventional pull down menus as the basis for the interface. The most common complaint was that there were:

The GUI presented illustrates the project team’s approach. None of it is cast in stone. It is intended to show what the team can do to provide the CHART II operators with the capabilities of Windows NT and the open GL standard. Further development of the GUI will take place in cooperation with MDSHA staff with the prototype machine remaining at MDSHA. The GUI will be updated as new developments are produced and MDSHA staff provide additional feedback.

The principles behind our approach to the design are:

In addition, we have borrowed unashamedly from the second edition of Designing the User Interface – Strategies for Effective Human Computer Interaction by Ben Shneiderman. This book provides explicit guidance in a number of areas including the design of forms, icons and dialogs between the system and the operator.