IBM Mainframe - maintaining the metaphor

Electronic Time Sheet screen

Last modified: September 6, 1996

Trying to "maintain the metaphor" on an IBM mainframe, which is not graphical was not easy! But this is as close a representation of the paper system as I could get.

When I was given this project I had been programming in the Mac environment for a number of years. Consistency between applications was another hallmark of the Macintosh environment that I had noticed made life easier for computer users. How many times had I found myself stuck in a mainframe application not knowing how to quit the darn thing!?!? The concept that every application should quit in the same fashion had to be one of the most revolutionary ideas that the Macintosh gave birth to.

Since there wasn't much I graphically could do with interface, I spent a good bit of effort designing the flow of the application. Every screen had a list of the function keys at the bottom. Most of the function keys behaved the same from screen to screen. I really liked the way I could select any number of rows in a TouchBase application and go from record to record making modifications without going back to the "list". Therefore I figured out a way to implement the same concept in this mainframe application. Users could select all the support staff in their department and then modify them one at a time without returning to their list of employees. And yet at any time, from any screen, they could "quit" and return to the original CAO Menu. It wasn't perfect but many an end user said it was the friendliest mainframe application that they had ever used. And we achieved 95% volunteer usage! Check out the on-line documentation.

The Electronic Time Sheet System has been usurped by E-Time, a wonderful Omnis client/server application, designed and programmed by Mary Donovan.

Carolyn Fuller
Senior Analyst/Programmer
MIT Comptroller's Accounting Office
(617) 253-6213

Made with Macintosh .................... Carolyn's Home Page