The Presentation Tier in Java

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CHAPTER 7 The Presentation Tier
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application is referred to as the presentation tier This chapter describes the structure of the presentation tier for Java Web applications and the tools in WTP for developing it A large number of powerful technologies, such as HTTP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, XML, XSLT, servlets, JSP, and JSF, are available for constructing the presentation tier of Java Web applications The fact that you are reading this book means that you are probably a programmer and are therefore very capable of mastering these technical aspects of user interface development However, most programmers lack the training to design the nontechnical aspects of the user interface By nontechnical aspects, we mean things like the way in which the user interacts with the application, and its graphical look and feel If your development project can afford it, bring in some trained professionals to help you with those aspects However, adding experts to your team is not always an option, and in any case a basic understanding of these issues is very useful So before we launch into a discussion of Web technologies, let s spend a little time talking about interaction design and graphic design
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In his book The Inmates Are Running the Asylum [Cooper2004], Alan Cooper defines the concept of interaction design, which, simply put, is the process of viewing the application through the eyes of the intended users and designing it accordingly As the title suggests, this process is not the norm in software development Instead, the user interaction typically is designed by developers who are focused on the internal structure of the application, with the result that the application frequently has an abominable user interface How often have you heard the excuse, We can t do it that way because the code doesn t allow it when you suggested an improvement to an awkward user interface Interaction design avoids those problems by putting the users first and designing the application to support the desired user experience The main tool of interaction design is the persona A persona is a fictitious user of the application, described in graphic detail You should define one or more personas for each major user role that the application supports Each persona is given a name and a lifelike description The goal is to make the development team start thinking about the personas as if they were real people It is especially important to describe the skill set of each persona to ensure that the user interface does not make incorrect assumptions Let s define the personas for League Planet now We ll begin with a description of the user roles All users of League Planet are expected to be comfortable on the Web They ll have e-mail accounts and know how to use
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Interaction Design
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typical Web applications such as Google or Amazon The main user roles in League Planet are, in order of increasing sophistication: fan, player, manager, and administrator
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A fan is a user that follows some sports Since League Planet is for amateur sports, a fan is typically a family member or friend of one of the players A fan can browse the site for information about leagues, teams, players, and games without signing in However, when fans sign in, they are shown information according to their interest profile and are given additional capabilities Fans can register interest in specific items and request notification of certain events, for example, when the location or time of a game changes, when the score of a game changes, or when a specific player scores Fans can also participate in discussions, communicate with each other, and arrange transportation to and from games A player is a user who participates in some sports Players are typically school children, teenagers, or young adults Each player is assigned an account and has all the fan capabilities Players can control the display of their statistics and can update their own biographical and contact information A manager is a user who registers and sets up the leagues, teams, players, games, and so forth Managers are expected to have actual experience in managing amateur sports leagues and teams Managers need to keep accurate records and enter this information into League Planet Finally, an administrator is a user who runs League Planet An administrator creates and deletes accounts, and monitors the operation of the Web site League Planet is a geographically distributed organization, so its employees need a Web user interface that allows them to administer the site from any location and at any time Administrators are information technology professionals
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Now let s create some personas for these roles:
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Anne French, Fan: Anne is a 42-year-old mother of two teenage boys, Max and Jason, who both play hockey Max is 14 and Anne drives him to practices and games Jason is 18 and drives a car, but Anne likes to attend his games Anne has her own personal computer and uses it mainly for e-mail and shopping online Although Anne can install and update software, she dreads doing so since something always goes wrong and she has little patience for troubleshooting Anne is especially interested in the car-pooling application available in League Planet since Max s hockey practices are at odd hours She d also like to receive text
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