more user interface blast from the past


Forgive my continued stroll down memory lane as I sort out my old-school ui / web application design work. Back in those days we didn’t have any fancy “C S S” and we liked it that way! Harumph.

VirtualVault was a high-security variant of HP-UX with an integrated web server, used by the first Internet-enabled banks. In fact, when SecureWare was pitching the first Internet bank (Security First Network Bank) I created the demo screens used in the presentation (my one meager contribution to history, I’ll puff up my resume to say “I designed the first internet bank”).

Compartmented-mode security was devilishly hard to administer, so we created a web-based administration tool. We solved a lot of problems and developed our own standards, and looking back at it I think it holds up remarkably well.

vv-home.gif vv-newaccount.gif

In addition to doing information architecture, graphic design, user interface design, and high-security programming (phew!) one of the toughest things was to retrofit the application for internationalization/localization, then I got stuck managing the Japanese localization (what a time and culture difference!). We came up with a pretty good solution for internationalizing the code, then a few years later I was looking at a new GNU gettext solution, and realized it used a very similar system so I guess we did something right! Even with the aid of tools we developed, retrofitting an existing application was a bitch, so now whenever I can I write i18n code from the start.


This project was a great opportunity for me, but the ultra-high security market was not lucrative enough so HP got out of the security market. The old team still gets together for a holiday party each year, which I think is pretty remarkable.

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