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Project Progress Report (3/29/04)

"Design of a User-Friendly System for Tracking Employee Vacation Time"

Group Members

  • Joel Clawson
  • Genevieve Hudak
  • Brock LaMeres
  • Kitty Turner


We have completed a survey in which users of the vacation tracking system were asked to provide their user models, current methods of tracking, and desired features. This in conjuction with our original feature list is being used to architect the system. The problem has been narrowed down to:

  • 1) Create a web-based vacation tracking system.
  • 2) The system will allow users to enter when they are out of the office and for how long.
  • 3) The system will graphically display the status of all employees for quick reference through-out the office.

The main sections of the system are:

Main Display Page

This will look like a calender that lists who is out of the office on particular days. The calendar will allow users to scroll through different months and years. The users name and a color coded flag will indicate when and why the employee is out of the office.

This page will most likely be implemented as a cgi application written in Perl that will automatically generate the calendar page according to the date that the user wishes to see. The dynamic HTML creation will allow for a more scalable system that can be used for an indefinate amount of time. This also meets a user request to be able to view any future or past month quickly by entering the month/year number. (Note to designers: Remember leap years!)

Data Entry Dialog

This is a seperate pop-up window that allows users to enter their information. It was desired from the survey that entry box be a pop-up instead of link to another HTML page. This way the user can look at the calander while the data information is viewed behind the pop-up.

In this window we will apply some Norman design principles. We will provide "visability" and "feedback via a graphical status diagram. This will tell the user where he/she is currently, where they were previously, and the remaining tasks to perform before completing the entry operation. Also, we will apply "constraints" and "error handling" so that users cannot enter incorrect dates or leave fields un-filled.

Information Database

The final main system block is to store the user-data so that it can be retrieved when the cgi application dynamically builds the HTML pages. It was decided that a text-based file system is well suited due to the fact that we are using Perl to create the HTML. Perl is a scripting language so it can easly parse and edit text files. This type of data storage is instead of a true database system which would add too much complexity to the scope of the project.

Task Distribution

We have iron'd out most of the system architecture and partitioning. The skills needed by the designers are Perl, Javascript, HTML, and cgi programming. Joel and Brock have experience with Perl. Gen and Kitty have experience with Javascript. The entire team has knowledge of HTML. Joel, Kitty, and Gen have experience with cgi programming. As of now, the tasks are distributed as following:

  • Dynamic HTML creation using cgi : Brock and Joel
  • Entry dialog using Javascript: Kitty and Gen
  • Database System: All

Testing - SWQA

In addition to internal QA testing, we will be conducting real-user testing the last week in April. We will hand out a 2nd survey to the users to evaluate how well we accomplished the original tasks and the overall usefulness of the application. We will have one week to incorporate their suggestions into the final product.

Next Steps

The next milestone is to put together a detailed block diagram of component interfacing and a paper proto-type. Once this is complete, coding can begin. We will have a weekly code-merge to make sure everything plays well together.

We will continue to have weekly meetings before Wednesday's class and/or on Sundays at 11:00am at the Tea Place Gen likes.

Re-Statement of the Problem

Our project is to use the ideas in the book The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman to create a useable and easy to understand internal travel page for the Joint Office of Science Support (JOSS) at the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research (UCAR). The travel page is to be where the members of JOSS will be able to add, update, or remove travel information for when they will not be in the office.


  • Norman, Donald. The Design of Everyday Things

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