Business Simulation Display Engine

This takes output from the simulation manager, reporting, decision-entry and help engines and displays it on the screen or prints it.

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The display engine manages the output from the simulation to the screen and the printer and handles decision input.

Screen Display

All my simulations use a standard screen layout showing simulation name, a task bar and the current task.

Simulation Name and Version

The simulation name and version is displayed at the top left of the screen.

Minus, Shrink and Exit Buttons

The normal minus, shrink and exit buttons are displayed to the top right of the screen. If the exit button is clicked users are asked to confirm (to prevent users inadvertently closing the simulation) and, the simulation can be configured to disable the exit button.

Task Bar

At the bottom of the screen is a task bar showing

  1. help buttons
  2. simulation control buttons
  3. printer control buttons
  4. other information

The task bar can be dragged to a new position.

Help Buttons
All my simulations have a context sensitive hypertext help system positioned at the left bottom of the screen and provide:

Help Button helps with software use.

Advise Button helps with the current task.

Explain Button helps explain the current menu item, report row or comment.

Manual Button provides and optional online manual

Simulation Control Buttons
These allow one to move forward (or backward) through the simulation and are .

Confirm or Continue move forward to the next task or action.

Abort allows users to step back out of a task or action.

Printer Buttons
If the simulation is configure to use a printer these cause a report to be printed or paper fed from the computer.

Print (if lit) when clicked spools the current report to the printer.

Page Feed (if lit) indicates that some reports are awaiting printing.

Note: Clicking the Print Button does not send the page to the printer until the page is full or until the Page Feed Button is clicked. This is to print as much as possible on each page.

Other Information
This provide information about the current time and, if appropriate, scrolling buttons and access to a calculator or word processor.

Current Tasks

The current task or report is displayed in the middle of the screen. The default font size for reports, decision-entry, help or menus is 12 point. This size was chosen as when the simulation is used by the participants they will cluster around the screen and a smaller font size would make viewing difficult. Likewise, when the simulation is used by the tutor, his or her maturity might impact vision!

Reports
Reports are opened in a window. If the report is wider or longer than the current screen size then the font size is reduced to try to fit the report. However, if the report is still to wide or long it can be scrolled. But this scrolling is intelligent - row and column names are kept as the data scrolled.

If appropriate, clicking on a line in the report shows help with the result.

Learn more about my Reporting Engine

Example of report

Decision Entry
In the decision entry template to the right the price is shown in red indicating that it has been entered. Production is shown in black showing that it has not been changed. Promotion is highlighted in blue showing that it is the current entry point. Clicking the Explain Button provides help for the current entry point and clicking the Advise Button will provide help for the current decision-entry task.

Learn more about my Decision Entry Engine

Example of decision-entry

Help
The help to the right would be displayed if the Help Button was clicked when entering decisions. Confirm is a hyper link to a page explaining the topic further.

Learn more about my Help Engine

Example of help

Menus

These provide ways of controlling the simulation, choosing reports and (if appropriate) selecting decisions. A menu item can be selected by positioning the mouse and double clicking or pressing enter or using the up/down arrow keys. If lit, clicking the Explain Button (bottom left) provides information about the current menu item.

Simulation Control Menus

The menu below is the master menu for my Tutor Mediated simulations.

Example of simulation control menu

Report Selection Menus

The menu below lists Team Results. When finished with these reports End Selection is double clicked. When an individual report is double clicked the report is displayed on the screen (and, optionally, printed). Double clicking Print all Reports will cause all the reports to be printed.

Report menus can be called recursively and this allows reports to be organised into groups.

Example of reporting menu

Decision Menus

The menu below shows the decision entry menu for a Tutor Mediated simulation. Similar menus can be used where the simulation is complex with several decision groups. A feature of decision menus is the way entry is flagged (in the example Acme's decisions have been entered but neither Team 1 or Team 2 have had decisions entered).

Wall Paper

When provided the simulations have a wall paper that shows my corporate logo (a video screen on an easel) and my web address (www.simulations.co.uk). However it is easy to replace this wall paper.

Printing

All my simulations are designed to be used with a printer as a printed page can shows more data that can be shown on the screen and allows a record to be kept of results. This means that standard reports are printed automatically.

Standard Information

To the left top of the is the name and version of the simulation. To the right top is, as appropriate, team and report group name.

To the left bottom of the screen is a copyright notice and, to the right, is the group or team name, date and time. Putting the date and time, group or team name at the bottom identifies the most up-to-date data a period is rerun. Optionally, in the middle bottom a page number can be printed (I realised that this was needed when using a pair of network printer - cleverly they randomly printed pages.)

The right hand side of the reports is indented to allow the page to be punched for filing.

Each report printed on the page shows the report name and period.

If a report is wider than the page then it is split into two or more parts with the row names repeated on each part.

Page Feeds

Reports are stacked on the page until it is full or until the page feed button is clicked.

Automatic Printing

A simulation can be set-up to automatically print a set of reports thus saving the tutor wasting time instructing standard reports to be printed.

2014 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall

Most recent update: 20/07/15
Hall Marketing, Studio 11, Colman's Wharf, 45 Morris Road, London E14 6PA, ENGLAND
Phone +44 (0)20 7537 2982 E-mail
jeremyhall@simulations.co.uk