Tuesday 12pm, 16 April 2019

Bid seminar

The Design of Electronics CAD Tools; Sketch-based User Interface Retrieval (CHI Preview Talks)

Richard Lin and Forrest Huang

Graduate Students - UC Berkeley


Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design tools are critical in helping users build non-trivial electronics devices. While recent work recognizes deficiencies with current tools and explores novel methods, little has been done to understand modern designers and their needs. To gain better insight into their practices, we interview fifteen electronics designers of a variety of backgrounds. Our open-ended, semi-structured interviews examine both overarching design flows and details of individual steps. One major finding was that most creative engineering work happens during system architecture, yet current tools operate at lower abstraction levels and create significant tedious work for designers. From that insight, we conceptualize abstractions and primitives for higher-level tools and elicit feedback from our participants on clickthrough mockups of design flows through an example project. We close with our observation on opportunities for improving board design tools and discuss generalizability of our findings beyond the electronics domain.

Sketches and real-world user interface examples are frequently used in multiple stages of the user interface design process. Unfortunately, finding relevant user interface examples, especially in large-scale datasets, is a highly challenging task because user interfaces have aesthetic and functional properties that are only indirectly reflected by their corresponding pixel data and meta-data. This paper introduces Swire, a sketch-based neural-network-driven technique for retrieving user interfaces. We collect the first large-scale user interface sketch dataset from the development of Swire that researchers can use to develop new sketch-based data-driven design interfaces and applications. Swire achieves high performance for querying user interfaces: for a known validation task it retrieves the most relevant example as within the top-10 results for over 60% of queries. With this technique, for the first time designers can accurately retrieve relevant user interface examples with free-form sketches natural to their design workflows. We demonstrate several novel applications driven by Swire that could greatly augment the user interface design process.


Richard Lin (Ducky) is a sixth-year PhD student at UC Berkeley, co-advised by Bjoern Hartmann and Elad Alon. He works on open-source electronics design tools with a human factors focus, aiming to make the process more accessible to non-professionals and less tedious in general. His current projects include addressing various dumpster fires in the chip-level (digital logic) design process as well as examining novel approaches to board-level design.

Forrest’s current research focuses on developing machine-learning powered interactive systems supporting sketch-based human-computer interactions. Forrest is a second-year PhD student at University of California, Berkeley working with Prof. John Canny. In the past, Forrest also worked on data-driven design tools for UI/UX designers with Prof. Ranjitha Kumar at UIUC, and collaborated with researchers at Google. His research has been published in CHI and UIST.