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I just read a line that included the phrase:

...designing transaction flows for the web.

In the context of UI design what does "transaction flows" mean?

Does it literally mean a process of a financial transaction and the UI surrounding that process?

  • What were you reading? Context may be important to answer this question as this might not mean financial transactions. – SteveD Jun 29 '16 at 14:57
  • I like the question and @StefanSchmiedl you've very kindly spent some time explaining it. Still don't understand what a transaction flow is in the context of UI. You need to assume a deeper level of ignorance on my behalf – jackiemb Jul 29 '16 at 20:45
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TL;DR: no.

Transactions are more or less complex process which can either be committed (thus changing the state of the system) or rolled back (thus restoring the original state of the system).

The challenge typically faced in "web" based interfaces is that the HTTP protocol, on which the web is built, is stateless, i.e. a "basic" web server cannot distinguish between a "new request" (starting a new session) and a response to an earlier request (continuing in same session).

Cookies and/or cleverly generated links and/or hidden form fields solve this problem. They either keep the session state on the client or on the server and thus make it possible to "remember" sessions transmitted over a "memoryless" protocol.

So "designing transaction flows for the web" entails more work than, say, a simple dialog box or a multi-page assistant with "Cancel" and "Ok" buttons in a "normal" desktop application.

  • I'm struggling to understand the meaning for UI design. Is it like a process flow, where you have conversation with a server e.g. User enters email address & submits; system sends email to user & presents page 2? – jackiemb Jul 28 '16 at 17:42
  • You can have server conversations, for example verifying the contents of a shopping cart during checkout. You are not required to have server conversations, though: Say you're creating a new account and international customers need to accept special conditions. Presenting these can be done without submitting the address to the server, so cancelling at that point would not leave a permanent record. – Stefan Schmiedl Jul 29 '16 at 7:13
  • So a transaction flow is a process (represented by a process flow) that includes some sort of interaction between front and back end? – jackiemb Jul 29 '16 at 14:52
  • Be careful with words like "is", which imply some sort of equality of both sides. Transactions are multi-step processes within a system that can be aborted before their completion without altering the state of the system. Front end and back end are implementation details of no real importance in that respect. It might be customary to keep the state "in the back end on some remote server", but that is not required. – Stefan Schmiedl Jul 29 '16 at 19:11

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