| part 2 |

When do you use physical models or start directly in 3D software?

The closer you can be to the final product, the better feedback you will get from your customers. Of course you have to strike an effective compromise given the costs, time, and resources available. This is the challenge addressed by “rapid prototyping.” When designing sunglasses for Nike, we would use SLA technology (stereo lithography) to “grow” 3D models to test fit, look and feel. For designing software, we employ a host of interactive rapid prototyping techniques ranging from paper models, video demos, Flash “click dummies,” all the way to programing a functioning prototype of the product. The ultimate point of this effort is to create a “proof of concept” experiment to test the viability of the core idea. The name for this key effort is Minimum Viable Product [MVP], which limits the development focus only to what is absolutely necessary to test, and nothing more. Using such a MVP design focus within an “agile development” environment, enables the product go grow organically while greatly reducing the risk inherent in most software development efforts. But this new methodology requires considerable discipline and can be challenging for existing organizations. It requires a new way of thinking, working, and most importantly a new way of measuring success.

Can Allplan users look forward to new fundamental changes in the UI?

I cannot talk about that directly, but we have been building lots of prototypes and have done our fair share of user testing with customers. I am interested to see upcoming releases that will capitalize on our internal UX experimentation and design efforts.  >> see Allplan 2013

What will GUI be in 10 years?

Until recently, the tools for “experts” associated with complexity – the more functions and features, the better. However, this trend is changing. In the future, the expert tool is more like a sushi knife, crafted for specific purposes to be simple, straightforward and effective. We can see this principle working at the edges of high-performance technology: control of Formula 1 racing cars has been reduced to only to the brake, accelerator, steering wheel and two levers to shift up and down. No more complicated clutch operation – this function is now obsolete, redundant features eliminated, thereby increasing the optimum performance. We have all seen the jet fighter pilots’ Heads Up Display [HUD] projecting targeting GUI out in front of them, maintain their attention to the target during flight. Google is not far off this target – its home page has only a single input line. This simple white field is arguably some of the most valuable real estate on the web. Why doesn’t Google fill it with advertisements (like Yahoo)? As this would pollute the focused and purposeful user interface, which is the central pillar of its brand – the world’s best search engine.

Designing great GUI is about reducing distractions and focusing only on what is essential. Simply put,the GUI in the future almost disappear. Or at most, it will only show up “Just in Time” (JIT), and only where and when you need it. Whatever the task or activity, GUI will take a back seat your work, and will not dominate the display surface as it is today. UI will become more natural and intuitive, with less reliance on device centered actions (mouse button clicks) and more on gestural input (think iPad on steroids). GUI will become more integrated into our natural environment, as “augmented reality” overlays, and user interaction will be more about the expressive ways we use tools. The accelerometer built into your smart phone is just the beginning. Take such a cup of coffee or a paintbrush – neither of which has its own special “GUI.” Both have a “handle” and you can just pick up and use them without thinking about it. This is the future of GUI technology, but we have a ways to go and a lot more experiments along the way to get there.


In the context of innovation, the discussion surrounding CAD is more and more about Building Information Modeling (BIM) and its automation. Will it lead to simplify the user interface?

You may have heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out.” You get out of any technology what you put into it… BIM is a great idea, and holds much promise, but we cannot forget that any data model or database is only as good as the information stored in it – much more important is the ability to find, use, and share that information in a timely and meaningful way. I believe that great user interfaces are the key to a more useful Building Information Model, leading to a significant simplification and streamlining of architecture design. Primarily by automating the repetitive and labor intensive tasks of information/model operations – reducing effort and bolstering more creative activities. Also by expanding the availability of BIM by organizing it around the user interface, instead of the other way around. This approach helps to select and process information, which in turn contributes to the creative use of information instead of its administration. Centering technology around the user, instead of forcing the user to fit the technology, will fundamentally change information modeling for the better. The use of such a new approach to BIM will be a breakthrough event for the next generation of architects and engineers. It will be a sign that the CAD has started joining the Innovation Age.

>> go to part 3


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