Usability Guidelines

This is a guideline to provide good usability within Saros development.

Eclipse User Interface Guidelines

Saros is a plugin for the Eclipse IDE. Therefore it needs to meet the Eclipse User Interface Guidelines.
Important sections:

Standard heuristics for system design

When improving Saros either technically or visually you must check if you followed the 10 basic heuristics for good user interfaces. If you do not follow these guidelines you might create severe usability problems, resulting in dissatisfaction of our users.
This could have a negative impact on the market acceptance and put the further distribution of Saros at risk. You do not need many users for this, usually 3 users are enough to quickly find out the most important. You can kindly ask them record their test with a tool like

Visibility of system status

  • The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.

Match between system and the real world

  • The system should speak the users' language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.

User control and freedom

  • Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked "emergency exit" to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.

Consistency and standards

  • Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.

Error prevention

  • Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.

Recognition rather than recall

  • Minimize the user's memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.

Flexibility and efficiency of use

  • Accelerators -- unseen by the novice user -- may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.

Aesthetic and minimalist design

  • Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.

Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

  • Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.

Help and documentation

  • Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user's task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large.

The Saros Widget Gallery

The Saros Widget Gallery is a plugin for Saros providing reusable user interface elements (widgets). The usage of these so called widgets leads to a higher degree of consistency in the user interface and therefore it is a valuable contribution to the usability of Saros. Because a good User Experience is one of our nonfunctional requirements it is mandatory

  1. to reuse existing widgets and
  2. to implement new widgets based on the Saros Widget Gallery.

Benefits for the developer

  1. Reusable GUI elements are presented together at a single point
  2. So called demos which are graphical presentations of widgets are at the same time the documentation for using the widgets
  3. The demos present widgets with various options which give an idea of possible usage scenarios
  4. The WYSIWYG style of the Saros Widget Gallery immediately shows your intended code changes without the need to set up the context the widget is intended to work in
  5. Shortens dramatically the cyle of Coding - Running - Verifying for new widgets. Small to medium size changes in the widgets can be visualized by the Gallery's refresh functionality and do not require an Eclipse restart.
  6. The design of the Saros Widget Gallery does not allow the developer to mix up view and application logic. This is primarily because it makes manual GUI testing easy and robust.


On the scale of things the Saros Widget Gallery allows for fast and easy development from small widgets up to complex wizards.