Linear System Analyzer User Interface

The LSA is designed to present a multilevel and flexible user interface. Because the LSA is intended for a variety of users, the its design is critical. Information must be supplied in a natural and helpful way, without irritating or getting in the way of expert users.

The Manager Panel

On startup, the LSA opens a graphical Java window showing the Manager Panel:


It has three major components: the Header Panel, the Module Selector Panel, and the Module Graph Panel.

The Header Panel.

The Header Panel displays a row of buttons for general LSA control. One button starts up the NewSystem module for system input. Others are for killing the LSA, killing and deleting modules in the Graph Panel, and saving the state of the LSA.

The Module Selector Panel

The Module Selector Panel shows the available modules, in three columns corresponding to the three generic types of modules (Info, Filter, Solver). Clicking on one causes
  1. a drop-down menu of available machines to appear, from which the machine to run the module is selected
  2. an icon for the module to appear in the Module Graph Panel.
Multiple modules can be fired up as fast as the user can select them. This can be useful in the situation when the user wants to reconstruct an earlier session or when the user wants several modules to start out with. Since instantiation of modules requires starting a process on a possibly remote machine, clicking on several lets them get started running, after which the user can start connecting them in the desired way.

The Module Graph Panel

The Module Graph Panel shows the currently running modules with their connections shown as lines connecting them. Note that although the set of modules with their connections forms a graph, for the LSA that graph will always be a forest data structure; each module will have a unique "parent", the module from which it gets its input sparse system. Modules can be dragged with a mouse to rearrange the default pop-up locations of the modules.

The Information Subsystem

Information is presented primarily through HTML documents and some graphics files dynamically created by LSA. Each module can create HTML files showing the typical summary of that process, and there are modules explicitly designed to provide analysis and guidance; see the description of the Info type module.

Each HTML and graphics file is generated on the machine where the related module is running. Only when the user explicitly requests a Summary Results file is it moved from the (possibly remote) machine to the one where the Hserver is running.

A save operation in the Header Panel saves a graphic image of the Graph Panel, with all its instantiated module icons. All available Summary Results files (described in modules) are retrieved to the machine running the server, so later on the image of the Graph Panel can be used to bring up the Summary Results, with the Graph Panel image used as a mnemonic device for the earlier-constructed solution strategy.

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    Last updated: Tue Jan 26 13:06:07 1999