Map: 'dev-exp.GIF'

Developers' Experience

Unique access to end users
The team developing the TIPS digital integrated newspaper production system from 1983 had, at least for that time, unique access to the end users (graphic workers in Utopia) for input, discussion and development of ideas. The process was studied and mediated by the Utopia researchers in work sciences and in technology. As input a requirement specification was available, produced by the users together with the researchers. This development with the users was intended to include the whole integrated pre-press system but in practise only came about with the developers at IMTEC/Teragon in Linköping of the image processing system, TIPS IMAGE-500.

Experience from developing the image processing system
The following citations are selected from interviews with the developers and graphic workers during the development process.
Developer/Programmer from IMTEC
Better knowledge about graphic work
"What we get from Utopia is their better knowledge about graphic work and computer science competence."
"Sometimes it is difficult to tell where ideas come from, e.g. transparency of images, basic concepts from us, developed together with the Utopians."
Macros and use-oriented language
"The users (Utopians) expressed the need for defining sequences of operations as new commands (macros), which we have implemented. This led to a discussion on development of a simple user-oriented language for image processing based on the primitive operations (which cannot be modifiable without extensive programming knowledge)."
Interactivity principle
"The interactivity principle of continuously seeing the result of operations is and has been made more important by the requirements from the Utopians. It is hard to implement fully on existing equipment, as fixed for us as programmers as for the Utopians as users."
Utopia as mediators
"The discussion with the users has mainly been indirect, with the Utopia researchers directly and with them as mediators, the researchers have learnt to understand the users."
Developer/Technical manager
"Without knowledge of graphic production one should not use the system."
"The cooperation with Utopia has been very positive, they produce input and discussion with the pace we need it, as preliminary reports."
"Utopia has influenced more than we thought, leading to some more programming, and to a much better functionality of the scanner, with possibility to modify tone, form etc already at input. Where possible, corrections should be made at input, utilizing the skill of the graphic worker."
Without Utopia - just copying traditional techniques
"Without Utopia we would have used an existing newspaper for user input and discussions, probably with much less understanding for new technical possibilities and more of copying traditional techniques"
"Ergonomics and usability are not much more expensive if they are included from the start, changes cost incredible amounts of money"
Developer/Business manager
"We were at first sceptical to involvement of even more people in this time-critical project, but with our loose specifications, more like frameworks, the influence of Utopia has been very positive."
"My way of leading projects is rather unconventional, more freedom for new ideas and less of strict, fixed, specifications from the start"
Better solutions for retouch and image table, traditional masks
"Concrete examples where the input from and discussions with Utopia has led to better solutions are the user's control ("approximate drawing") of areas for retouche and the dialogue for handling the electronic image table, with "spy holes" and masks, more in line with the repro workers traditional terminology than transparency, intensity and form layers."
Graphic worker one
"Utopia became more goal oriented with the TIPS cooperation."
"TIPS has for a cheap price got graphic knowledge, computer science knowledge and work environment knowledge."
"What we know and think can be misused both by TIPS and by the researchers but we must take chances and trust each others."
More useful scanner controls
"We, especially via the researchers, have clearly made the scanner controls and the image model much more useful."
"Paper mock-ups and simulations are a bit strange for me, the Perq graphic workstation made it more realistic"
Graphic worker two
"From protocols from TIPS' industrial reference group it is clear that they do not at all have as much to contribute to the functionality and usefulness of the TIPS system as Utopia has."
Acquired mutual respect
"We in Utopia took the initiative with input papers to the TIPS developers and visits together with them at civil printing work places with image processing equipment, and thus acquired mutual respect."
"For us users it is not enough with computer scientists as partners, although they are very sensitive, we also need working life and work environment researchers for justifying requirements on work organisation and environment"
"With help of paper simulations we in Utopia could define a usable model for combining images, with covering and partly transparent masks etc., finalised by the TIPS programmers."
not satisfied with screen technology
"We are not fully satisfied with the screen technology and workplace chosen. Variable height, tilting etc. was accepted, but the screen is still too small and should have faster refresh rate."
Users with special experience
"On one occasion we used graphic workers with special experience of image processing equipment as consultants, this was very rewarding - and should have been used more."
"Our participation in the cooperation with TIPS does not mean that the graphic workers' union legitimizes the resulting production systems in any way. That has been made very clear but we have to be observant so that Liber/TIPS does not use it in their marketing."
Utopia computer scientist one
"One of the special things with Utopia was the mutual learning between graphic workers and scientists. We really took time and effort to learn about each others work and viewpoints."
"I'm a little proud over that several of the solutions we designed are similar to the solutions that were chosen in later main stream programs. An example of a creative tool not possible with conventional technology is the double tipped retouch brush which applied the tones at the reading tip little by little at the painting tip.
Utopia computer scientist two
"Another example is replacing text that in page overview situations due to the limited resolution of display screens can only be represented by a few pixels with a grey pattern giving the impression needed to judge the typographic balance of the page.

Page make-up system development
Such contact and confidence never established
The Utopia group did not succeed in establishing even a rudiment of similar contact and confidence as with IMTEC/Teragon with Typlan, responsible for development of the TIPS page make-up system. That system was never finished even for pilot-installation, so a study of the full, integrated system could never be made. Some reasons for the contact failure were lack of common understanding of the possibilities of modern technology and the importance of usability and work environment issues, and shortage of development personnel at Typlan.

Conclusion - Commercial failure but knowledge success
Some pilot installations of IMAGE-500
The TIPS system never became a commercial success, except for the image processing system IMAGE-500 in other, scientific and medical, applications. A few pilot installations at newspapers were made, the most prominent at Aftonbladet in Stockholm. The integrated system was never fully developed and integration with systems from other vendors was not fully possible. A necessary prerequisite for rational and efficient use making it pay-off was, at least then, that the whole production could be integrated in the digital system.
Knowledge facilitating serious negotiations on new technology
The knowledge gained from the development of the image processing system in close contact between IMTEC/Teragon and Utopia, including the study of the pilot installation at Aftonbladet, manifest in reports, requirement specifications, technical, functional and users' experience has been most useful afterwards. Graphic workers' unions have access to technical knowledge that facilitates serious discussions and negotiations with the employers on introduction of new technology in efficient and socially acceptable ways.
Participatory Design
Researchers see this as an early, almost generic, example of the "Participatory Design" method for system development, which now is an established part of the Information Technology.

Latest update by Axel Henriksson 96-04-16