Announcing Open Virtual Usability Lab (VULab) alpha

Nate Angell nate.angell at
Tue Jan 6 17:00:26 UTC 2009

Ron, thanks for the announcement and your work on the VULab. It sounds  
like it can become a valuable resource.

I'm wondering if the VULab is a resource that can be used by other  
open source communities that may be related to Fluid. I'm thinking  
specifically of Drupal ( and OpenID (http:// communities, that I have been encouraging to contribute to  
and benefit from Fluid's work.

Would it be OK to share your "alpha" announcement more widely?

On Jan 5, 2009, at 5:26 PM, Ron Owston wrote:

> I am pleased to announce that we now have an end-to-end working  
> alpha version of VULab at
> You can create your own login as a "researcher" and then create a  
> login for a "tester". Then login as the researcher and create a new  
> "project." A project consists of a pre- and a post-session survey  
> and the url that you want a "tester" to visit. At the end of project  
> creation you assign the tester to the project and activate the  
> project. Then login again as a researcher and view your tester's  
> video and survey responses.
> I have prepared a 3-part video explaining the steps in conducting a  
> study with VULab at . I urge you to  
> view the video before attempting to use the tool, especially video  
> Part 1 that explains how to create a survey which at this point is  
> still somewhat idiosyncratic.
> For those of you unfamiliar with the application, VULab is designed  
> for remote usability testing. VULab records, on its server, remote  
> users’ interactions with a web site. The application also has a  
> built in survey tool that allows researchers to ask users questions  
> at the beginning and end of their usability testing session. The  
> data collected on the VULab server then can be analyzed by the  
> researcher to identify usability issues with the website. A unique  
> feature of the application is that it does not require remote users  
> to install the software application on their computer as they only  
> need to download a small Java applet at the time of the session. All  
> recording is done on the server.
> Known issues with VULab:
> 1. the captured video plays back too quickly. I suggest using a  
> video player that allows you to reduce the playback speed eg. with  
> VLC hit the minus key several times (and turn off the sound  
> beforehand).
> 2. audio and video aren't synching properly yet.
> 3. work still needs to be done on the layout and css of the web  
> interface.
> 4. exporting of survey data not yet implemented.
> 5. uploading of screen snapshots is fairly slow--it takes at least  
> as long to upload as the length of the user's visit to the website  
> being tested. The user can't take the post-session survey until the  
> upload is completed.
> You can report back any issues to this list, but Colin is creating  
> the list vulab-users at which will take most of the  
> traffic related to end user experiences. This will be announced  
> shortly.
> And finally, Happy 2009, to all members of the Fluid community and  
> thanks for the support you've given our project over the past year!
> Ron Owston
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