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Surface Features

Does it ever make sense to expose any of the machinery of object technology at the interface with end users? For the most part, when the logic and structure of the program show at the screen, something is wrong. It reflects inside-out design, where the interface ends up as little more than a thin and blotchy skin over a lumpy interior. Outside-in design, by contrast, means that internal components and their external manifestations reflect user needs rather than partisan programming.

So-called “factory objects” placed on the interface might be an example of a useful exception. Visual components that when clicked or swiped create new instances of a class are an interesting and under-utilized form of object-oriented user interface technology. A “pad” of “fax cover sheets” could be used to open a blank form ready for completion and eventual transmission. Not everyone would find such a “document-centric” scheme the most felicitous, so it is probably worthwhile thinking through how best to provide appropriate alternatives.


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