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Glossary » Software Engineering

system administration

supporting a user community by maintaining their computer environment, by handling such items as system purchasing and installation, software configuration, network configuration, backups, server maintenance, security, troubleshooting, user training, maintaining system stability, and providing technical support for users.

System administrators…

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target configuration

or “target platform”; the technical parameters of the system(s) that a piece of software is being developed for, which impacts how many users will be able to use the software as well as the difficulty with which a user can…

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thumbnail sketch

(graphic design) a small, rapidly-drawn sketch, used to explore visual ideas, focusing on rough layout issues. A general design approach is to quickly draw a large number of thumbnails as a way of brainstorming and exploring design variations.

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user interface management system. A development environment for designing and building user interfaces.

Typical features include a graphics system, a widget library, layout editor, and various programming language and operating system extensions to support larger-scale development, such as object-oriented features…

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user interface software engineering (pronounced “WISE”). The field that studies how good user interfaces can be effectively built, often focusing on user interface toolkits and support for graphics, layout, and widgets, but also considering support for peripherals, other modalities of…

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user interface software and technology (pronounced “WIST”); the name of an annual conference sponsored by ACM SIGCHI that takes a computer science and software development point of view on how to build user interface software.

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the facility for reversing the effects of any given operation.

Some common elaborations of undo include:

redo facilities – for bringing back the effects of an operation that was undone repeat – repeats an operation instead of undoing it multiple

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use cases

a task analysis technique often used in software engineering. For each module of a system, common tasks are written up with the prerequisites for each task, the steps to take for the user and the system, and the changes that…

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use what you build

a way of evaluating a system by having the designers and programmers actually apply the system in their own work. This is a particularly good approach for finding functional holes and major inefficiencies, and results in great responsiveness to user…

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user interface toolkit

a collection of software routines to help build user interfaces, typically including routines for input-handling, graphics, widgets, error-handling, window management, and so forth. These may be built on type of lower-level software platforms such as window managers and layout managers.…

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video prototyping

a technique for visualizing the interactive behavior of a system using video animation. Each frame of the video is created by videotaping a brief instance in the use of a system. Each frame is typically constructed on paper with icons,…

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virtual device

an abstract specification of an input or output device that enables a programmer to interact with that device without knowing the details of the specific device, e.g. by using a printer language to send output to a printer without knowing…

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virtual terminal

A virtual terminal defines a set of capabilities that an application working over a network can assume that a user has at the user’s local site. It responds to a network protocol that allows the specification of interactions with the…

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virtual toolkit

a cross-platform user-interface toolkit. With a virtual toolkit, the user interface is developed with a layer of abstraction in calling up widgets and dialogs. The virtual toolkit translates requests for windows, buttons, scrollbars, and so forth into the appropriate calls…

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visual brainstorming

the process of generating a variety of graphical alternatives to a visual design problem, such as generating thumbnail sketches for a screen layout or various alternatives of an icon to represent an abstract concept.

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visual programming language

a programming language whose interface is graphical, as opposed to the most common textual languages (such as C, Lisp, Java, etc). The idea is to improve the comprehensibility of the code by choosing an optimal notation, not one which is…

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waterfall model

a traditional linear model of the software development process that suggests each phase of development could be completed independently and pass its results onto the next phase. Thus, a requirements phase would produce a requirements document that would then be…

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WebDAV stands for “Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning”. It is a set of extensions to the HTTP protocol which allows users to collaboratively edit and manage files on remote web servers.

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window manager

the portion of an operating system that gives the programmer an interface for displaying within a window without concern for where on the screen the user has moved it or resized it and without concern for when or how windows…

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(website design) a skeletal version of a website or product that represents navigational concepts and page content. The term is used in 2 broad ways:

A static wireframe or page schematic is a single drawing of an individual page template

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wizard of oz prototype

a prototype that only works by having someone behind-the-scenes who is pulling the levers and flipping the switches. The wizard of oz technique in user testing has a user interacting with an interface without knowing that the responses are being…

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a standard graphics platform for GUI environments. The X-Windows environment is defined as a terminal standard, much like text terminals (e.g. VT100), but for graphics. X-Windows typically runs on Unix systems and allows both local and remote users of a…

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