IWMW 2000: Self Evident Applications for Universities
Designing for the Extended
The Self Service Application
• A business model with far reaching implications.
• Developed from the convergence of two trends:-
– The Internet, which gives us:-
• A ubiquitous global network,
• A commonly accepted, but relatively limited interface (html).
• Lower demands on client processing power.
– The ERP Application, which gives us:-
• A defined set of rules for transacting business.
• A relatively constrained environment,
• Linked business processes.
Why Self Service?
• Objectives of Self Service applications are
– To reduce cost of processing,
• The ‘Captive’ vs the ‘Volunteer’ user,
• The Student as Customer,
– To give greater choice and flexibility to the ‘customer’,
– To reduce the scope for error,
– To make ‘the customer’ responsible for the accuracy of
– To avoid the need for training.
Self Evident for Self Service
• A self service application must be self evident.
– Obvious to use,
– locally specific,
– Readily available (ie through a browser),
• Self Evident applications will multiply.
• Self Evidence can only be achieved through
creating multiple interfaces onto enterprise
Server Centric Applications
• We cannot afford to rewrite our business
applications to fit this new model.
• The server should provide a repository for
– Business Logic,
– Inter-application Interfaces.
• The server centric model gives:-
– A single, stable, reliable code base,
– Maintains ‘One Version of the Truth’,
A Window on the Data
• Each Self-evident application is an interface into
the server application.
– It can be replicated and modified to meet different
– It can use terminology which the user will understand
to describe data and processes,
– It can be easily modified, without changing the
• This promotes interfaces that are content driven
Content Driven Interfaces
• The Self-Evident interface is:-
– Content Driven:-
• Shaped by the Data,
• Adopts suitable terminology,
– Process Driven:-
• Leads the user through the required steps,
• Validates data in order to encourage correct completion,
– Not Transaction Driven:-
• Shaped by the transaction definition,
• Assumes the user knows what they are trying to do,
• Rejects errors,
The Technology Bit (Non MS)
• The elements of a Self Service environment:-
– Enterprise Applications
• ERP or Best of Breed.
– Application Integration
• Linking applications at the application server level.
• Component applications (EJBs) linked via CORBA.
• Messaging and Data Definition.
– Transaction Processing
• Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation and Durability.
• JSP allow a link between htlm or xml interfaces and
– XML/XSL separates data from presentation.
Keep the *!!*?s Out!
A direct and immediate link between the user and the
data, but that user could be anyone.
• Security must provide:-
• That a person is who they say they are.
• So that Data is protected
• So that people only do what they are allowed to do.
• The greatest threat is still from within.
Can Everything be make Self
• Would you want to?
• Ask yourself:-
– Where are the benefits?
– Who are the potential users?
• And how many of them are there?
– Can we deliver not just data, but information?
– Can the interface be Content, not Transaction driven?
• What stops something from being Self Evident?
The Experience of Bath
• Access to our Finance System (Lawson)
– Arrow and Aura, access to financial data for budget
– E-Procurement – the web based requisition.
• Registrations On Line.
– An ambitious project,
– Doesn’t follow the model,
– But does give a layer of abstraction.
Where will Self Evident Lead
• Forces us to confront who our customers are.
• What effect on staffing levels and job descriptions?
• Blurs the divide between an organisation and it’s
– Feeds the dis-intermediation process.
• Supports the Application Service Provider model
– Common processes, different interfaces.
• Adds to the Virtual Learning Environment by helping to
merge the process of learning and the management of the
• What IS a University?