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INFSCI 2470 - Interactive System Design

(Spring 2021, CRN 25926)

[ Formal Data | Course Tools | Syllabus | Course Books | Course Plan ]

Course Tools

Teaching Tools

All course information, homeworks, assignments, etc, will be accessible from the Knowledge Tree Course Portal or Pitt CourseWeb. These two systems will also provide all interfaces for submitting your homework and projects. Below you will find some brief information about these tooks.


The key tool for the course is the Canvas Course Management System. A set of course materials and communication tools is available on the course Canvas site. You need to have Pitt University Computer Account to login to Canvas site. Use Account Managament Page to check the status of your account. We will use Canvas for all communication during this course as well as the too to submit assigments and projects.

Knowledge Tree Course Portal

We provide a range of online learning resources with this course to support both distance and on-site learning. These resources should be accessed through Knowledge Tree Course Portal. Knowledge Tree uses adaptive navigation support to guide you to the most relevant resources. Due to limitatioin of CourseWeb, we can't integrate Knowledge Tree into CourseWeb, so you will need to access this system separately and will be provided with a separate account.


CoMeT is the system that you will be using to select research talks to attend. All talks that the instructor considers eligible for credit will be posted to Human-Centered Computing group. Create an account in CoMeT and join this group for easy access. We also recommend to Subscribe to this group, then any talk posted to the group will be sent to you by e-mail. If you select a talk to attend please, bookmark it. I will ensure that we are not sending too many students to the same talk. Also, you will be notified about changes and cancellations of bookmarked talks. You can bookmark as many talks as you wish (and you could visit as many talks as you wish, one is the requirement), most important is to do it with the talk you plan to attend. CoMeT is adaptive and will recommend more relevant talks as you bookmark a few. Also, watch for interesting talks beyond CoMeT. If you find a relevant talk that is not posted, be the first to post it and get extra credit.

Java Development Tools

To complete the course project, you might need to write and debug Java programs. To do that you need either


We strongly recommend you using Eclipse, one of the most popular Java IDEs used by both students and professionals. While Eclipse is relatively complicated, it is not more complicated than Microsoft Word or other high-functionality application. Use our guide or free online tutorials to locate a small subset of functionalities that you need for your work with examples and problems. Once you learn the core functionality of Eclipse, you can explore some of the useful pluguns

There are many other free and commercial IDE for Java and you are welcome to use any of them if it is something you get used to. However, if this your first IDE, we recommend Eclipse.

Educational IDEs

An alternative for Eclipse and other professional IDEs is a small set of educational IDE that are specifically developed for the needs of students learning Java. These IDEs do not have many components that students do not need while also offering some additional useful tools that the professionals do not need. As a result, many introductory classes use educational IDEs and many Java programming textbooks are written with a specific educational IDE in mind. BlueJ, jGrasp, and DrJava are among the most popular educational IDE. You are welcome to try any of these IDEs, but I would recommend jGRASP developed in Auburn University.

Using an editor and a compiler

An editor -- compiler/runtime environment pair is the simplest way to work with Java. It is easier to use than any IDE, but this option provides little debugging support. We do not recommend this option unless you have special reason to use it. Here are some free software options for this way.

Sun Java Runtime Environment and SDK

Oracle provides free set of development tools (that used to be known as SE Kit) for all versions of Java. You can download the most recent version from Oracle Web site using the link below. Please, download Standard Edition (SE) Development Kit, not any of the advanced versions. On the same pages you can download API specifications and Documentation.

Program Editor

You can use any text editor that you are familiar with. For bare-bones editig you can even use Notepad and Wordpad that belong to Windows accesoiries would work (if you are using WordPad, make sure that your programs are saved as textfile with suffix .java). If you want a little bit more comfort and functionality, use one of the following free editors that are specially designed for editing programs.

Visualization Tools

Visualization tools will let you to look inside the working program. Some educational IDE offer some extended visualization. However, for a really advanced level of visualization details, please, try Jeliot. Jeliot is a great visualization system for beginner-level Java programs.

Copyright © 2021 Peter Brusilovsky