Browse Prior Art Database

Original Publication Date: 1984-May-23
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2007-Mar-30
Document File: 20 page(s) / 1M

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Rosson, Mary Beth: AUTHOR [+2]


Beth Rosson

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RC 10550 (il47200) 5/23/84

Computer ~cience/Human Factors 19 pages


Beth Rosson


       Sciences Department Tl1oma.s J. Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, New York 10598

Abstract: The activity of 38 users of a powerful system doing their normal editing work, was unobtrusively recorded for five days. Information about both colnnland use and command effects was recorded, as well as other characteristics of use (e-g., types of files edited, the use of progranlmable function keys and of editing macros). Results and discussion focus on both the editing sessions and the editing transactions within those sessions; specific command contrasts (e.g., anlong options for cotnmon editing needs like insertion and moving in a file) are also examined. The results are considered in light of their implications for editing system design.

M ~ r y

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Rosson Freefor~n Editing 2

   Text-editors and word-processors are becoming omnipresent in office environments. At our research lab, one is l~arcl-pressed to find an office witliout a computer tertninal in it, and Inany offices include multiple workstations. Ancl while the computer is used for a variety of purposes, editing is certainly one of tlie most comwon. Given the large and growing population of users, it is becoming increasingly iniportant to unrlerstand the routine use of these systems. This is particularly true in view of the rapidly increasing function available in editing systems: As the function increases, users are offered more and more choices aniong mcthocls and the choices they make can serve as valuable inpt~l to systenl designers.

   Allnost all of the research on routine use of text-editors has been conducted in laboratory environ~i~ents,
in wl~ich ilsers are given experimenter-designed tasks to carry out. These tasks are usually designee1 to be representative of work users tnight acioally do on their own (or at least of components of real-world tasks), but task content ancl fonnat are controlled to allow conventional experi~nental analyses. Suclŵork has led to a ni~nlber of observations about text-editing, including comparisons of editors (Card, Moran, and Newell, 1953; Poller and Garter, 1983; Roberts and Moran, 1982), of different user classes (e.g., Card, Moran, and Newell, 1983; Folley & Williges, 1952; Tyler, Rotl~, ancl Post, 1952), as well as of different editing niodes (Gould and Alfaro, 1984). However, because experimenter-designed tasks nlay differ in itnportant ways from a user's own work (e.g., in familiarity, in content, structure, types of editing necessary), and because the observational conclitions of laboratory studies #nay motivate users to work differently than they would on their own, it is important to comple- ment the laboratory work with...