CS 530: Developing User Interfaces

Course Syllabus

Professor: Erin Solovey
Email: erin dot solovey   @   drexel.edu
Office: University Crossings 108
Office Hours: Please email me for an appointment!
TA: Pavan Kantharaju
Email: pk398   @   drexel.edu
Office: Cyber Learning Center (University Crossings 152)
Office Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays, 4-6pm (or by appointment)


This course discusses user interfaces within the context of interface design, implementation, and evaluation. The course includes lectures covering the basic topics, class discussions on special topics relevant to each lecture, and a course-long project in which students design, implement, and evaluate a new user interface.

Goals and Objectives

This course aims for students to (1) understand all stages of the user interface life cycle, including design, implementation, and evaluation; (2) practice the programming, writing, and speaking skills necessary for developing user interfaces; and (3) appreciate the larger context in which multimodal interfaces are designed, implemented, and ultimately used.


The class will assume basic familiarity with Java and a UNIX environment. Students familiar with C++ but not Java should be able to pick up the necessary Java skills through lectures and assignments.

Course Topics

The course is designed to be interactive and a high degree of student participation is expected. Topics covered in class include the following:


There is no required textbook for this course; the lecture notes handed out in class will serve as the primary study resource, and we may hand out additional sources during the term. Optionally, you may also find it helpful to purchase a Java and/or Java Swing and/or Javascript reference book. Feel free to choose whatever suits you best; there are many books to choose from (try searching on amazon.com). However, before you purchase additional books, please note that the Web contains many online resources that may serve just as well, such as Oracle's online Java Tutorial and Swing Tutorial and Mozilla's Javascript Tutorials.


Each student will give an online "presentation" and lead a discussion on one of the special topic readings. Presentations will be done individually, and you will be asked to post slides about the reading, including your analysis and critique of the work, and then lead a discussion on its context in the course.

Weekly discussions

Throughout the course, all students will be expected to participate in on-line discussions. Specifically, as students presenting individual papers post their "presentations" as blog entries, each student is expected to comment thoughtfully on each paper for that week. To solidify understanding and for practice in critical reading, paper critiques will be required for several papers. In addition to sumbitting a one-page critique when specified, students should also submit the self-graded rubric for the review. Students' participation grades will be based on the quality of their discussion postings and paper critiques.


Homework assignments will focus on programming to solidify and expand on topics presented in lectures. The assignments involve implementation of a user interface in the Java programming language and the standard Swing package and/or web technologies (HTML/CSS/Javascript); lectures will introduce whatever knowledge of is needed of these languages to complete the assignments.


The course will include a multi-week individual project that brings together all aspects of the learned material. The initial waypoint will include group discussion of interface prototypes to get feedback for future work. The final week will include demonstration sessions in which everyone presents their projects and results to the class.


All aspects of this course are important for developing an understanding of and appreciation for building user interfaces. The grading breakdown will be as follows:

Assignments turned in up to one day late incur a 50% penalty; assignments turned in more than one day late cannot be accepted and receive a score of 0. Missed exams also receive a score of 0.


The instructor will disseminate important announcements by email through the course mailing list, and also post these announcements on the course web site. Also, the web site contains a timeline with links to all information (lecture slides, assignments, etc.) relevant to the course.