Steamer: An Interactive Inspectable Simulation-Based Training System

Hollan, J., Hutchins, E. and Weitzman, L. 

The Steamer project was a research effort concerned with exploring the use of AI software and hardware technologies in the implementation of intelligent computer-based training systems. While the project addresses a host of research issues ranging from how people understand complex dynamic systems to the use of intelligent graphical interfaces, it is focused around the construction of a system to assist in propulsion engineering instruction. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the underlying ideas which motivated us to initiate the Steamer effort, describe the current status of the project, provide a glimpse of the directions we plan to pursue in the future and discuss the implication of Steamer for AI applications in other instructional domains.

AI Magazine, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 15-28. 1984. Reprinted in Artificial Intelligence and Instruction, Kearsley, G., Ed., Addison-Wesley, 1987. Also, reprinted in Readings in Intelligent User Interfaces, Maybury, M. and Wahlster, W. Eds., pp447-473, Morgan Kaufman, Inc., San Francisco, California, 1998.


Graphic Interfaces for Simulation

Hollan, J., Hutchins, E., McCandless, T., Rosenstein, M., Weitzman, L.

The dynamic graphic display of the state of complex systems has immense potential value for mediating the development of richer understandings of process as well as for providing more effective mechanisms of interaction. For the past few years we have been involved in the development of a set of software tools to assist in the construction of interfaces to simulations and real-time systems. These tools have been used extensively in the development of an interactive inspectable simulation-based instructional system, STEAMER (Hollan, Hutchins and Weitzman 1984). Underlying our efforts are three interrelated research activities: formulating a theory of interface design, understanding the effectiveness of interactive graphic representational systems, and implementing systems based on these developing theoretical notions. The dialectic between these activities has been very valuable for us as cogitive scientists and as system builders. In this chapter, we survey some of the presupppositions of our approach to interface design, describe the tools we have built to assist in the construction of graphic interfaces and discuss the conclusions we have drawn from our experiences in graphic interface design.

Man-Machine Systems Research, Man-Machine Systems Research, Rouse, W.B. Jai Press, January 1987.

DesigneR: A Knowlege-based graphic design assistant

Weitzman, L.

Designer is an interactive tool for assisting with the design of two-dimensional graphic interfaces for instructional systems. Graphic domain knowledge, stored in a frame-based representational facility, is coupled to a domain independent machanism which analyzes and critiques the user's original design. The system then supports the synthesis of design alternatives. These alternative solutions are generated within a design context, or style, and are based upon graphic constraints. The underlying motivation is to improve the quality of the interfaces by making them more consistent and visually more effective.

Artificial Intelligence in Engineering Design, New York, Academic Press, Inc. pp433-463, January 1992.

The Architecture of Information: Interpretation and presentation of information in dynamic environments. 


Weitzman, L.

Design of information presentation is undergoing significant changes. Documents are information interfaces that must dynamically reconfigure themselves based on their content, the medium in which they are displayed, and the intended use of the information they present. Increases in computational power and the increased bandwidth of interconnected networks provide greater access to information. These factors, combined with the realization that not all of this information can now be pre-designed, necessitate new tools and techniques to ensure the effective presentation of computer-based information. This dissertation exploits the structure of information to support the design of dynamic documents. From this structure, visual languages are created which support the process of building an Architecture of Information.

PhD Dissertation MIT Media Laboratory. Cambridge, Massachusets. February, 1995.


SuperNews: Multiple Feeds for Multiple Views

Elo Dean, S., Weitzman, L.

The IBM intranet hosts a range of news feeds, or distribution services, from internal and external sources. To read the news of the day, users need to visit a number of Web sites, each with a different categorization, navigational structure, and layout. Transfer of technology from the MIT Media Laboratory to IBM enabled the design of SuperNews, a prototype application that aimed to improve IBM employees' experience in reading the news. SuperNews merged heterogeneous news feeds and presented a consistent interface to users. Users could choose to read news on the Web, in e-mail, or as engaging visualizations. Using text processing technology, SuperNews discovered meta-information in articles and created new ways to browse the news collection. SuperNews also allowed users to publish their own columns, as well as annotate and recommend articles to their colleagues. Starting with a range of uncoordinated feeds, SuperNews transformed the solitary reading of news into an engaging and visually appealing community experience.

IBM Systems Journal, Volume 39, Numbers 3 and 4, 2000.


Why Surf Alone?: Exploring the Web with Reconnaissance Agents

Lieberman, H., Fry, C. and Weitzman, L.

Every click on a Web link is a leap of faith. When you click on the blue underlined text or on a picture on a Web page, there is always a [sometimes much too long] moment of suspense when you are waiting for the page to load. Until you actually see what is behind the link, you don't know whether it will lead to the reward of another interesting page, to the disappointment of a 'junk' page, or worse, to '404 not found'.

But what if you had an assistant that was always looking ahead of you; clicking on the Web links and checking out the page behind the link before you got to it? An assistant that, like a good secretary, had a good, [although not perfect] idea of what you might like. The assistant could warn you if the page was irrelevant or alert you if that link or some other link particularly merited your attention. The assistant could save you time and certainly save you frustration. The function of such an assistant represents a new category of computer agents that will soon become as common as search engines in assisting browsing on the Web and in other large databases and hypermedia networks.

Communications of the ACM, August, 2001.


Transforming the Content Management Process at IBM

Weitzman, L. Elo-Dean, S. Meliksetian, D. Gupta, K, Zhou, N. Wu, J.

This  case study explores the evolution of the Franklin Content Management  System, developed by IBM’s Internet Technology Group. Franklin began as a  technology-driven process to provide a web content management solution  with the following goals: content reusability, simplified management of  content and design that enforces integrity and consistency, the  customization of content to individual users, and the delivery of  content to a variety of display devices. 

CHI2002 | AIGA Experience Design Forum, Minneapolis, MN, April 21-22, 2002.


Meta-Design for "Sensible" Information

Weitzman, L.

Many  content management systems today do not take into account how the  information is to be used. These tools, and the designers who use them,  must adapt to the new environment in which we live. Designers can not be  present at all times to craft each presentation. Likewise, systems must  support the design process to ensure the consistent and timely  presentation of information in a variety of contexts. These systems need  to provide information fragments for reuse in a variety of contexts. In  addition, these information fragments need to have a “sense of  themselves” in order to be able to render properly in these different  contexts. These different situations each have their own requirements on  the information. The information, therefore, must be carefully designed  and can not be automatically derived. Content management systems must  support sensible fragments of information that can be presented in  different contexts so that it is relevant to the task at hand and to the  device on which it is rendered. 

Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, May 2003


Using open source software to design, develop, and deploy a collaborative Web site

Lewis-Bowen, A., Evanchik, S., and Weitzman, L. 

Today, Web sets are a necessary element of business and the tools to create and deploy them are becoming easier to use. However, for complicated sites that require more than just the standard methods of interaction and update, Web site development is still not turnkey. Many customizations are often necessary for each application within an organization.

The open source community has provided a number of tools that begin to work together quite well toward the development of complicated Web sites. This collection of articles from members of the IBM Internet Technology Group shows you how to use open source tools as a basis and provides a methodology and set of enhancements to simplify the process of Web site development. While customization is still necessary, these articles demonstrate the use of tools and techniques to get relatively complicated Web sites up and running.

developerWorks,, July 2006 - March 2007 [15 articles in the series]

Design and Implemenation of a Cloud Tenant UI

Weitzman, L., Lewis-Bowen, A., Li, E. and Fedor, J.

This paper documents the design and implementation of SilverLining, a student intern project to create a simplified user experience to the cloud. vCloud Director® (vCD) provides a full-featured interface for system administrators and others to configure and control their cloud computing resources. The SilverLining project streamlines user workflows and interactions, making it easier to find virtualized applications and add them into a personal workspace. To support this effort, we created a JavaScript SDK to communicate with vCD through its API.

Vmware Technical Journal, Winter 2012.


A Strategy for Mobile App Development at VMware

Weitzman, L., Lewis-Bowen, A., Chung, C., Mostafavi, R., and Jin, Y.

The future is mobile. A number of studies show triple digit growth of mobile applications and how these are becoming increasingly important to the enterprise [8]. VMware must pay attention to this emerging trend. Mobile apps have the opportunity to differentiate and support enterprise offerings while providing incentives for new customers. In this position paper, we describe the current state of VMware’s mobile offerings as they relate to the core products. We explore a new approach to VMware’s mobile strategy that will focus on mobile-specific use cases, create an ecosystem of inter-app communication, utilize robust APIs to the core products, and standardize on a common design language. Along the way, we want to enable small teams to deliver these apps and explore innovative patterns for user interaction that can influence the future direction of product development.