Chris Pratley's Office Labs and OneNote Blog

A blog about Office Labs and OneNote from behind the scenes.

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  • Blog Post: One percent for art: Napkin Math a.k.a. The Calculator in OneNote 2007

    I like to love the software I use. I gather many of you do too. In the process of designing a new release of OneNote its important to keep this in mind, since it is easy to make a product that meets a lot of business criteria but has no soul. For example, our product development process uses a fixed...
  • Blog Post: Your first five minutes with OneNote

    Being a new type of application has its downsides. On the one hand the field is open and we can define a whole new experience for using a PC. On the other hand, most people who see us for the first time just look at us and say "huh?" and move on. Grr. We anticipated this problem from the start, which...
  • Blog Post: Clippy and User Experiences

    Some people have asked me to write about user experience design (as in the whole shebang, not just interface elements or features), and also about the Office Assistant (sometimes known by the default assistant, "Clippit" often referred to as "Clippy", or other ahem, "nicknames"). Since they are somewhat...
  • Blog Post: Designs, anyone?

    Excellent. Lots of feedback. But almost all from developers it seems. Having an API for OneNote is certainly the plan, so it is good to hear how people hope it would be used. No need to convince me that it is necessary. And I agree with all the sentiments about bloat, etc. The add-in argument I think...
  • Blog Post: Design a blogging feature for OneNote

    I thought it might be fun to try a little interactive design experience. There's been a lot of discussion about blogging from OneNote, and how it would make a good tool for managing posts, etc. So it is easy to say "hey, add support for blogging to OneNote!". But if you've read my previous posts on how...
  • Blog Post: Awards for OneNote

    We've had a good week here last week on the OneNote team. First, we heard that we had won a Microsoft internal award for “Best Software User Experience” at our Design Day 2004. This is an event that is held each year as a kind of internal conference on design. One of our users had entered...
  • Blog Post: Avoiding typical pitfalls

    So, how to make sure we didn't have a typical "v.1" product with OneNote? As I mentioned last post , it isn't as simple working on the product until it is "perfect" in design - that approach doesn’t work. Takes too long and you don’t really understand what "perfect" is until after you ship...
  • Blog Post: Schools of development

    I was thinking to write about how software is made. First, I'll start by describing three methods of developing software. I am sure there are more, and someone has probably written books on this, but hey, this is an informal medium. Here they are: The "wait until its perfect" school. This approach...
  • Blog Post: OneNote and Version 1

    Let's say you manage a development team that has a few developers, a few testers, and a handful of Program Managers. You've already laid out a "vision" for a product you plan to build, and most everyone privy to the plan seems to think the idea is solid enough to be valuable and maybe even successful...
  • Blog Post: Why Doesn't OneNote have Feature X?

    Who decides what features go into a software product? If a software product doesn't have a feature, why is that? My entire career at Microsoft has been as a Program Manager. You can probably read elsewhere exactly what that means, but for now we'll just say that the role is one of "make-it-happen...
  • Blog Post: The Acid Usability Test

    Designing software is fun fun fun. During the OneNote project we had countless hours of brainstorming design sessions full of laughs and great ideas. There's really nothing quite as intellectually stimulating as a tough intellectual problem, 3-5 smart, articulate people, and a whiteboard. Ideas come...
  • Blog Post: In or Out? That is the question.

    Some people ask me why OneNote is a standalone application, and not part of one of the Office suites (i.e. not "in the box"). There are advantages to being in the box for sure. One is distribution. A lot of people will see a new product if it is included in a bundle with Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint...
  • Blog Post: Humility and handwriting

    Designing the actual experience of handwriting in OneNote 2003 was quite a challenge. We didn’t want to just replicate paper, since that didn’t seem to be adding enough value. So we got quite interested in the idea of trying to determine the structure of ink. That is very hard and the subject...
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