Are you an interface designer? Need a challenge?

If you’re looking for an opportunity to solve a unique UI design problem and would like to see your name in a Free Software product, here’s a chance 🙂

Look at this mix of metaphors:

Scared yet? It’s a screenshot from one of the projects I’m involved in that is currently entering beta, which means that people are actually using that interface. Such cruelty.

The project’s called leihs and is an inventory management system with a focus on a borrowing and rental. It exists so that the university can manage its several thousand pieces of equipment that students can borrow for free.

We have a unique problem here: We need to make four dimensions of information visible in the interface. How many pieces of an item are available? When are they available? When aren’t they available? And which inventory pool are we taking how many of them from? The system also knows how to split orders between various inventory pools, since the university has many independent inventory managers and sub-inventories.

We’re currently trying to make this accessible through a mix of metaphors. Our frontend is part e-mail client (look at the top and bottom panes), part online store (look at the item categories and shopping cart) and part hotel/flight booking system. Then there’s a graph that displays item availability over time, a tough one all on its own, but more annoying still when you have to integrate that information with all the other stuff you’re displaying.

So what do you think? If you’d like to contribute, send me an e-mail or sign up for the development mailing list. The backend and all the hidden bits in leihs are beautiful already, it would be great if the frontend were as well 🙂

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