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Suggested Improvements

What user interface improvements can you suggest?

Integration! The function of the older software is highly specialized--telnet controls one remote computer but cannot exchange files. Ftp exchanges files with one remote computer but cannot perform any other tasks in to the remote account. Reading Usenet news allows a user to learn about new telnet, ftp, gopher, and WAIS sites, yet offers no facility to connect with these systems.

A working improvement would be to link the existing utilities into some sort of hypertext package: I read Usenet news, and when I see a new file I would like to get via ftp, I highlight the filename in the newsreader software and press enter (or click the mouse). The hyper-link will invoke ftp to retrieve the file, and the ftp-link will call a decompression program to restore the file to an executable or viewable state. If the operating system can deal with multiple `threads,' then I'll still be reading the news while all of this takes place in the background.

An ideal implementation of the `integrated Internet utilities' would re-write all of them to communicate with an advanced protocol, such as Z39.50. This change would allow a variety of integrated interfaces, for various computer platforms and user groups--and it would work better because the software would be designed to work together from day one. (It all seems to be delicately patched together at present). This integration and adherence to a common protocol would benefit online catalogs and databases too--imagine being able to use the same software package to log in to Dialog, Melvyl, the OAC and ORION. Imagine finding a great document in Melvyl, and issuing a `transfer' command to `check out' a binary copy of the book, image, etc--with all of its original formatting, tables, and photos. (There might be a few copyright infringements here, but you get the concept...).

WAIS is a great idea, but it needs a stronger way to search for information, perhaps by Boolean logic or regular expression. It needs an online tutorial, and an interactive wizard or agent script that could walk novice and intermittent users through a search, step by step. The Windows WAIS client is especially hampered by the fact that it crashes when it encounters any single host computer that is not up and running (instead of skipping to the next remote server or even just quitting the search--the whole computer crashes and the user loses any unsaved data.




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Next: Conclusion Up: Internet Interfaces Previous: Subjective Satisfaction   Contents

sean dreilinger

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