In the last half year I worked with a number of enterprise developers getting in the Flex/RIA platform. In most cases it was not easy as they have certain set of rules of how things suppose to work that do not work any more.
It reminded me very similar experience of 15 years ago. Pleple where moving from mainframe/terminals based environment to the windows environment. Every design and workflow that worked great for 20 years needed to be reconsidered and improved. The screens were going fro 1/4MegaPixels to 3/4MegaPixels – huge jump opening new possibilities. Windowing and event-driven programming were going to change user experince forever.
These days my desktop is over 4MegaPixels and it takes me 5 seconds to drag mouse from one corner to the other. I learned not to layer multiple windows on the top of each other and memorized shortcuts to get needed widgets at once. I am longing for “flat” with some overlays – or is it due to the fact I have been using Flex too much in the last 2 years?
Enterprise developers miss design guidelines to show the way RIA applications should look and behave. There was similar huge gap between lined notepads used to layout flat mainframe/terminal screens and plain interaction and WIMP wireframes. Simple books like Interface Guidelines were on every desk. I was not able to find the same type of book (not because of lack of trying) for Flex/RIA development – and it is needed very much every day.
I am answering countless questions like : “How do you make application flow with asynchronous message boxes?”. Well, I avoid message boxes by providing validation ques and inflow wizards that serve the same purpose – unobtrusively, ahead of time. The screens are neither flat browser page nor convoluted MDI but rather are scaled/structured based on user feedback/history. The concepts of proximity, personal preferences and simplicity take preference. All that is on the top of usuall Wall-street requirement of absolute top-speed – waisting time for nice animation is punishable offense. Anything that “moves” is potential target and a lot of Playstation concepts are at play here.
Cool pictures showing RIA’s “best practices” would worth thousand words. A book with words explaining along the patterns of user interaction would be priceless