Triple T @ UMD - Terrapin Trader Transformation
This page describes the user needs (tasks, scenarios and references) of the Terrapin Trader Transformation project.
Terrapin Trader is the University of Maryland’s on-going surplus property operation. Through collaboration with the webmaster and owner of the site, our team has identified a crucial process that we will try to improve with this term project.
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Through collaboration with the webmaster and owner of the site, our team has identified a crucial process that we will try to improve with this term project. Currently the surplus submission is a completely manual process that requires handling of several paper forms by the user as well as updating static HTML files to refresh the online inventory by the webmaster.
We will try to semi-automate this process by creating a dynamic submission system that allows University of Maryland personnel to log in to Terrapin Trader’s website, fill out all necessary online forms and submit a surplus property request over the internet.
Additionally, these online submissions will be automatically queued for review by the webmaster. If the webmaster accepts the surplus request he can publish the item on their website with a click of a button without modifying any HTML source. The online submission system and inventory display will be based off a database backend that stores all necessary information.
The interface will be geared towards three types of users. The property surplus submission is handled by personnel of some department of the University of Maryland. This user has some sort of property that is not being used or required by his or her department anymore and it can be released to Terrapin Trader for management and/or resale. The user will utilize an online submission form interface to fill a request with Terrapin Trader for their property disposal. The user will be required to log in with authorized credentials to fill a surplus request.
The second user type comes from the administrative side of Terrapin Trader. This user is currently in charge for the upkeep and management of the University of Maryland's surplus system. To ease the process from a management perspective it will be possible for Terrapin Trader personnel to log into an authenticated area of the web portal to review queued surplus requests as well as manage approved property. After a request is filed by the first user type, the administrator of Terrapin Trader will receive an automated email request of the submission. This will notify the management to review the online submission and either post them to the online catalog or decline the request. This automated system will eliminate any need for manual modification of static HTML pages.
The third group of users that will interact with the online surplus system are people who are interested in purchasing published surplus products. These users could be members from other University of Maryland departments as well as the general public. They will interact with the online catalog that displays available surplus property. A search facility will let them search for specific property or filter the available items by specific criteria. Additionally, it will be possible for the interested party to get in contact with the Terrapin Trader management about possible property acquisition and questions regarding items.
Users of the Terrapin Trader generally fall into one of three categories: University personnel entering new listings, buyers using the site to shop for goods, and administrators within the Terrapin Trader.
Some example users will be presented, divided into these three categories:
USER TYPE A: The first type of user is a person who wants to submit surplus property to Terrapin Trader.
Jane Doe from the Computer Science Department has a surplus desk. Jane Doe is an experienced computer user. The desk is used but in good condition and Jane Doe has a picture of it available that she would like to post with the listing. They would like to submit the desk to Terrapin Trader and to have them pick up the desk. Jane Doe would like to have any payment for the desk credited to the FRS University account. This is Jane’s first time using the website and Terrapin Trader. She will submit her listing to the Terrapin Trader website and await a response on whether her desk is accepted and when it can be picked up. She will then be notified when the item has been moved to the inventory and is now available for purchase for 25 dollars, as that is the price of similar desks listed. Finally she will be notified when the desk is purchased, and that she will not receive any compensation as the selling price was less than 50 dollars.
USER A. 2
Roger Big is from the Agriculture Department at the University of Maryland and possesses a tractor that is not surplus. He would like to create a listing on Terrapin Trader for the tractor. Roger is not an experienced computer user. The tractor currently does not have power and cannot be driven over to the Terrapin Trader facility. Roger Big submits the listing on the Terrapin Trader website. He provides a description of the tractor, pick-up times, and his FRS number for payment. He is then contacted by Mark, a representative from Terrapin Trader who comments that the item will be bid for and that Roger will need to pay for an external company to transport the tractor to the Terrapin Trader facility. The tractor will be on the website for the bidding period of three weeks, and will be sold for the price of 1000 dollars. Mark will be notified of this sale and credited part of the selling price to his account.
Mary Jane from the English Department has 5 chairs, a computer and 20 lightfixtures that she would like to list on the website. She has the items in her car and takes them directly to Terrapin Trader. She does not use computers. She would like for a personnel to list all her items for her and provides contact information for further communication of needed by phone and email. She will never visit the Terrapin Trader website, and will not come back to the location after the drop-off. The next interaction that she will have from the Terrapin Trader personnel will be to inform her of he sales and to notify her that the items will not be credited to her account as they sold for too small of an amount.
USER TYPE B: The second type of sample user is from the administration side of Terrapin Trader.
Bob Jones works at Terrapin Trader and has received a request for the listing of a desk on the website submission form. Bob views the times that the desk can be picked up and contacts the person who submitted the listing with potential times. The item is picked up. The desk is similar to some items already on display and is assigned the price of $25. Bob then changes the status of the item to on-sale and viewable on the website. He does not want to come back to change the status of the listing when it is available for purchase to non-University employees and then the public (after 1 week and then after 2 weeks). The next time he looks up the item is when the sale is made and he deletes the item from the website and sends an email to the person who had listed the item.
Sally Que, a Terrapin Trader worker, needs to update a listing already in the Terrapin Trader database with a new description. It seems that it was not noted that a desk has a broken drawer. She would like to notify the person who listed the item of this change as well. She is an experienced user of the database.
Sally Que receives a request that a motor vehicle has been submitted to the Terrapin Trader website. She notes that this item will need to be a bid item, and not for the showroom. She will need to arrange a pick-up for the motor vehicle to be moved to the Terrapin Trader website. She would like to move the item into bidding and to have an alert every time there is a bid made. She has the vehicle picked up and places it for bidding. She places the item into the bidding category on the website. She receives alerts when items are bid on. She checks that the bidders are authentic. One potential buyers' information does not look credible so she retracts their bid. The bidding ends and the item is removed from the website. It is not removed completely until payment is received in case that it needs to be listed again. USER B.4
Bob Jones would like to modify the database about a sale that is occurring currently. The sale is for 20% off of all computer equipment. He would like to update the price of the items listed on the website to reflect the sale for the given period. He would like to not come back to the website at the end of the period to update the prices again as he is forgetful.
Bob Jones has a set of bookshelves that were left abandoned in a room in the University. He needs to create a listing for the bookshelves himself. He finds that such bookshelves were already listed on the website multiple times and would like to withhold the listing until the previous bookshelves are sold. He wants to create a listing that will be places on the website when the sale is made, and wants to be alerted to the sale so that the shelves could be moved to the showroom. The previous bookshelves are sold several weeks later and the listing goes live. The bookshelves are then sold and he removes them from the website.
USER TYPE C: The third type of user is a potential buyer.
Zach Thomas, a university official, from the Computer Science department would like to buy a chair for his department. He finds several chairs that are available on the website that he likes from the description. He would like to find them easily when he arrives at the location as he is very busy. He arrives and finds the chair that he would like to purchase and completes the transaction.
Steve Roberts, an Anthropology student, wants to buy a computer. He is not an experienced computer user. He knows Terrapin Trader sometimes has computer and would like to check that there are some available before he drives over to the facility. He finds a computer on the Terrapin Trader website that fits his specifications, but he notes that it is not available for sale to the general public yet. He would like to know when it will be available so that there is no other student that could buy it before him.
John Ray from a non-profit organization in Maryland would like to bid on a motor vehicle. He finds two listings on the Terrapin Trader website that fit his specifications and further goes to view them in the facility. He likes Vehicle X and would like to win it no matter the price. He would like to receive notifications if other bids are placed. He checks the website often and does not want to enter his information every time he visits in order to place a bid.
Anthony Tomasic, Isaac Simons, John Zimmerman. Linking Messages and Form Requests. International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (2006).
This journal paper discusses a prototype user interface that would allow users to send an e-mail in plain text that would result in the changes that the user desires being made in a web form. In this way, the user can attain assistance if they don’t understand part of the form or need to make changes to what they have already submitted without having to await a response for a human being on the other end of the communication. This could be incorporated into our method of item submittal on the Terrapin Trader site if a user needs to change something about an item that they have already completed the form for.
ASP.NET Developer Center. (2008). Retrieved September 28, 2008, from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/asp.net/default.aspx
This website details the use of Microsoft’s ASP technology. This can be used to create submittal forms and dynamic web pages of the sort that we are interested in creating for Terrapin Trader.
Fuhr, N. & Grofsjohann K. (2004). XIRQL: An XML Query Language based on Information Retrieval Concepts. ACM Transactions on Information Systems, 22, 313-356.
This article describes a variant of XML known as XIRQL. This language is designed to incorporate rankings of different fields into database results returned through XML. This can be used on the Terrapin Trader site for displaying the database of items that have been submitted to the site.
PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. (2008). Retrieved September 28, 2008, from http://php.net
Similar to Microsoft’s ASP site, this page documents PHP. It can be used in many of the same ways as ASP, which means it is one of the options we can consider when developing the Terrapin Trader web page. It also has support for database management, which will be useful for indexing the items that users submit to the site.
Michegan State University Surplus Store. http://surplus.msu.edu/ A rather functional site of similar nature, one interesting thing they did was integrate their listings with an eBay store. They do not have any type of automated submission form.
Nationwide Universiy Surplus: http://www.universitysurplus.org/
Princeton Universiy. http://web.princeton.edu/sites/TreasurersOffice/Purchasing/SCE/
Some other examples, of varying quality:
http://www.material.rutgers.edu/index.shtml (Rutgers' Surplus and Material Services)
http://fbs.admin.utah.edu/index.php/surplus/ (Somewhat similar to the Trader)
http://www.uiowa.edu/~fusmm/surplus.html (not the best, but it does detail the submission process)
http://surplus.byu.edu/ (bad - all on one in-line html page!)
Main Screen Shots
The first thing that the user will see when entering the site is the Home Page to the database. This will be accessed off of the main Terrapin Trader website and will be where all of the actions relating items coming in, out, and changing will take place. It can be accessed by those who want to submit merchandise, those who want to get it as well as administrators who are updating the merchandise.
On the first page the user will choose to either sign in immediately, or to select one of the actions -- "Submit Surplus", "Manage Surplus", or "Find Surplus".
From here, if the user has not logged in they will be taken to the Login page, where they will either enter their existing email (which is your user name) and password. If they have not yet registered they have the option of creating the account right there with two boxes to verify their password in. During the account creation the user will virtually sign the 'Terms and Agreements' which are always linked to at the bottom of the screen for the future. The login will allow users to have their past information saved, as well as allow only certain users to access the Administrative Area.
After the user has logged in they will be taken either back to the front page (if they have not selected a direction to go in) or to their selection.
If the user has picked to 'Submit Surplus', they will be taken to the Submit page. Here the user will enter their information (not all displayed at this time) including name, location, pick-up time (if applicable), item description, photo (if available) and any other information. They can submit this information or cancel if they change their mind. Submission will take them to a preview of the information they entered from where they can confirm that they would like to submit.
If the user has picked the 'manage surplus' tab, then they will only be able to proceed if they have an administrative account. If they do not, they will get an error message and be sent back to the main page. Here the user will be able to examine all of the pending submissions as well as manage surplus that is already posted. They will be able to approve, change, and delete items. Such actions will trigger a notification email sent to the person who created the listing.
The 'Find Surplus' tab will be where a user goes if they want to see what surplus is available in the database. They can search by a variety of criteria, which will remain displayed on the top of the screen after the results are shown. Each piece of surplus will have an option next to it to view it closer and information about when and where it can be viewed (usually at the site).
At any point in time, the 'FAQ' button is displayed on the bottom right of the screen allowing the user to find the answers to any questions they might have about the operation of the site.
For any questions, there is a 'Contact Us' button on the bottom of the screen which will, open to a web submission form to send questions and concerns to the TTT team.
Main Screen Shots
User Function Diagram
When the user goes to the Terrapin Trader site, they will be directed to the home page. Here they will have the option of logging in and will be provided with contact information about Terrapin Trader. Most importantly, they will have large and easily noticeable links to the three main functions of the site, submitting, managing, and searching items.
If the user decides to upload or manage items, they will be prompted to log in or create a new account.
If the user chooses the submit page, once they have logged in they will be presented with the form to fill out. The form will contain fields for all of the relevant information required by the Terrapin Trader site. Upon hitting the submit button, they will be sent to a page displaying the data they have entered and asking them to confirm it. Once the confirmation button has been pressed, the user will receive a page saying that their item has been successfully submitted.
The search page will provide a text field that allows users to input what they are looking for and search it that way. Alternatively, they will be able to view items by what type and date to get a better general view of what has been submitted to the site.