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  • How Rich Internet Applications can save taxes

    November 26th, 2008

    Switzerland and the EU are committed to utilizing the benefits of the Internet and Web technology in order to streamline their administration and to make it easier for the citizen to interact with his or her government. In its role as service provider, governments seek to provide a single point of contact (a portal or a human public servant), who guides the help-seeking citizen through a complex web of public administration. This – at least – was the message of the eGovernment Symposium held in Bern on Tuesday November, 18th 2008.

    SAP's approach to user-centricity

    One of the topics covered in depth was user-centricity – of course an essential point if a government is serious about making engagement with public administration easy for its citizens. As a tax payer I was a little bit worried about the fact that SAP is contributing its complex Netweaver™ technology to the user-centricity discussion (see image to the left – sorry, I have only a German version). But if the ones responsible for eGovernment follow the suggestions of Christian Wanner from LeShop – the Swiss Amazon for food supply – I feel more comfortable again. The value of the experience he gained over several years cannot be understated. To summarize:

    1. A user interface – especially on the internet – can never be simple enough.
    2. Users do not read instructions – and if they do read them they frequently do not understand them correctly even if your developers are convinced that everybody in the world can understand them.
    3. Let real users randomly chosen from the street (not the colleague at the next desk) try out the user interface – you will see the proof for the first two points.

    There is one important point I would like to add to this: Governments should take great care when designing and implementing user interfaces for their public servants, who are to subsequently provide services to the citizens. Following this advice can actually lead to dramatic tax savings, and here’s why: Offering a public web interface to citizens requires that internal processes are automated. These proceses will frequently cross the border of departments – especially if a single point of contact shall provide complex services as, e.g., founding a company. Thus, public servants need effective interfaces to sub-service providers. Tools should be designed to support the productivity of the public servants as much as possible in executing such cross-departmental processes.

    Wasting the time of our public servants is wasting our taxes.

    Public servants as web application users require sophisticated (not complicated!) interfaces. In contrast to a citizen who – hopefully – only rarely has to use the web interface to contact public administration the public servant will use his or her tools very frequently – perhaps every day, many times a day. A citizen, therefore, requires self-explanatory interfaces – interestingly in most cases perfectly covered by pure HTML-based applications (no Ajax required). Our public servants on the other hand, need highly optimized, but not necessarily self-explanatory interfaces. It is worth spending some tax Francs or Euros on the training of staff on the systems. They will return our investment very soon by being more productive (or at least their tools are not to blame if they are not productive). 

    Different user-interface paradigms for different user types

    Such interfaces cannot be implemented using standard HTML-based technology. They require a different interface paradigm – instead of forms and pages that are filled up and read one by one in a sequence (request-reply-style) – the interfaces for our public servants must be highly interactive, asynchronous, and in a position to display and change more than one thing at a time. This is normally best covered by event- and component-based user interface technology, such as we know from desktop applications like office tools (cf. picture to the right).

    Thus, Rich Internet Applications are vital for implementing eGovernment and making our public servants effective which – in the end – means that our governments will save money (our taxes!)

    I hope that user-centricity as discussed at the eGovernment symposium is taken seriously and that session chair Peter Fischer’s closing words will not come true: “User-centricity means that the user is always standing in the center and, therefore, in everyone’s way.”

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    Canoo @ WJAX/SOACon 2008 | Part II

    November 20th, 2008

    Most is said here: Canoo @ WJAX/SOACon 2008

    But there are more pictures:

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    Canoo @ WJAX/SOACon 2008

    November 17th, 2008

    This is just a quick note about the WJAX Java developer conference that take place last week in Munich.

    The conference program was quite balanced and beside the main stream topics about SOA (ServiceOrientedArchitektur – represented by the SOACon conference), Spring, Application Security and OSGi there was a huge number of different topics, which were addressed by several talks.

    Most interesting from my point of view were following sessions:

    • Keynote from Jonas Jacobi: Re-architecting the Web with HTML 5 Communication.
    • Talk from Karsten Lentzsch: Efficient design of swing UI’s.
    • Talk from Angelika Langer: Java programming in the age of multicore.
    • Talk from Dierk Koenig: RESTful JEE with Grails.


    Canoo was exhibiting on a booth, which gave the great opportunity to present and talk about our products UltraLightClient (ULC), the just released language application for the IPhone (using canoo.net), our demo for the new JavaFX platform and fancy UltraLightClient / Swing rich client applications. In addition Canoo members used the presence to keep in touch with existing costumers, contact new ones or presented the company to potential new staff members.

    Canoo Online Quiz

    All the visitors on the booth and all other interested software developers had and still have the possibility to join an online quiz. Its possible to win an iPod touch or one of ten ‘Groovy in Action’ books. The quiz can be found at www.canoo.com/quiz and will end at the 30.11.2008.

    Dierk König, Canoo fellow and author of the ‘Groovy in Action’ book, was holding a groovy workshop and was giving a talk about RESTful JEE with Grails.

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    Maintenance Release UltraLightClient '08 Update 1

    November 14th, 2008

    We are pleased to announce that maintenance release UltraLightClient ’08 Update 1 is now available for download.

    This is a maintenance release for UltraLightClient ’08. Please see the release notes for a list of implemented feature requests and fixed problem reports.

    Please note: the UltraLightClient ’08 license key is valid for all software releases labeled UltraLightClient ’08. If you already have a UltraLightClient ’08 license key, a new license key is not required.

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