In my last post I went through a long-winded explanation of how to enable and disable capabilities within Rational Application Developer (RAD) and Rational Software Architect (RSA). I notified Emeka Nwafor, product manager for RSA, about the blog and found out from him that there is a much simpler (and ingenious!) way to enable/disable capabilities.
When you launch RAD/RSA (or any of the other products listed below) go to the Welcome screen (Help -> Welcome). In the lower-right hand corner of the Welcome screen, you'll see an abstract icon of a person, with a number of smaller icons to the left of him. If you put your mouse over this little man, you'll see text to "Enable Roles". Click the little man icon and you'll see a number of possible roles that you can enable. One of these days we'll be able to post pictures on our dW blogs and I'll be able to show you these things!
A role basically corresponds to a set of capabilities that are required by that role. The roles are very self-descriptive ... e.g. "Requirements Manager", "Modeler", "Java Developer" etc. Often a person plays multiple roles in their work, so simply enable the roles that you play and disable the roles that you don't play. The whole "capabilities" discussion gets abstracted away.
This is a really, really cool feature, which greatly improves "user experience scalability". The only shortcoming of which is its somewhat inconspicuous location on the welcome screen. Emeka's looking into perhaps getting the role-enablement/disablement function a more visible place in the RAD/RSA real estate.
I have to give a complement to the user-centered design practice within IBM which have really changed the way we design products, internal systems and customer systems. When I look at RAD/RSA v6 and think about the way I initially struggled with WSAD v4, I am really impressed by the gains we've made in usability - keep it up folks!
This makes me think that I really have to post on user-centered design in general ... an area I've been studying more and more lately and have come to appreciate as much as technical architecture and design.
Update! Here's a screenshot. Hosting courtesy of ImageShack
Role enablement widget in Rational Software Architect welcome screen
A different (and better!) way to enable and disable capabilities in RAD/RSA