Tovi Grossman- Understanding and Improving the Learnability of Software Applications

Despite advances made in the field of human-computer interaction, software learnability continues to be a prevalent problem. The topic is particularly relevant and challenging to the designers of large and complex software systems, such as computer-aided design and 3D modeling applications. While technology has evolved immensely over the past two decades, the techniques used to overcome software learnability problems have failed to keep pace. Over the past three years, I have been working with my colleagues at Autodesk Research to explore how we can leverage emerging technological trends, such as enhanced computing capabilities and online social networks, to offer new techniques for aiding software learning. In this talk I will discuss the central guidelines we have followed during this exploration, and a set of innovative software learning technologies that our research has led to. Examples include Chronicle, which allows users to capture and explore entire document workflow histories, and IP-QAT, which allows the user community to ask and answer questions within the context of the software application. I will also discuss the transfer and implementation of our research tools within Autodesk’s design and engineering products, which can be notoriously difficult to learn.