Copyright 2004 by M. Uli Kusterer Fri, 29 Nov -1901 11:06:32 GMT Comments on article x2005-05-09 at x2005-05-09 Comments witness_dot_of_dot_teachtext_at_gmx_dot_net (M. Uli Kusterer) witness_dot_of_dot_teachtext_at_gmx_dot_net (M. Uli Kusterer) en-us Comment 11 by Uli Kusterer Uli Kusterer writes:
Joachim, thanks, those are some great links and projects. I myself am also mainly a many windows kinda guy, but for browsing tabs help.
Comment 10 by Joachim Bengtsson Joachim Bengtsson writes:
I agree that the windows-and-menus GUI is getting a bit old, and I've been researching alternative UIs for a while and been keeping notes in my voodoopad. My Dream UI would be a Zoomable UI (cf Raskin, Seadragon), where objects are physical (BumpTop, ), the UI is deep (tracks user's eyes to give the UI a perspective transform relative to the user, cf Johnny Chung Lee ), and of course multitouch (cf Jeff Han, ). I call this a "Deep NUI".

One guy actually nailed almost all of these in a concept ( ), but his site seems to have died :( Anyone have a copy?

Until the day when my dreams are realized, inter-app tabs might actually be a pretty good idea, even though I've been for a long time been against tabs in everything but web browsers. In Xcode, e g, I use the Condensed layout and a lot of open windows, navigating them by cmd-0'ing to the project window or spatially (Xcode is excellent at remembering window locations and which windows were open when project was closed).
Comment 9 by Dan Dan writes:
You've got some really good thoughts! What's funny is I found your post while googling to see if there was some pre-existing code to save window positions in my app. :-)
Comment 8 by Uli Kusterer Uli Kusterer writes:
Sam, Lifestreams ( look a lot like what you can do with plain-old Finder (maybe with some Spotlight thrown in). I guess Apple's on the right track there. I'm not sure the fanned-out or stacked view is necessarily a good thing (especially since the article admits it's better for smaller workgroups, so it doesn't really solve the problem of many files), but I could see a fanned out view (like the "piles" Apple was rumoured to have) being quite useful, so I guess it depends on how this actually looks in practice. Thanks for pointing that out. And yes, Zoomable UIs can be 2D just fine (cf. Raskin's), but the study explicitly stated the viewpoint was fixed.

Aaron, yes, the Vista paged frame looks like a step in the right direction. Integrating not just the technical page-switching part, but also the controls is very important and caters to programmers' inherent laziness. Good to see MS is getting that right.
Comment 7 by Sam Thanks for replying Uli

You are right that the paper to which I posted the link was of only minor relevance; however, I must confess that I posted it as much for its relevance as as a prompt to others to check out the scientific literature before arguing in ignorance and therefore often needlessly (a common occurence in HCI discussions in my experience).

To elaborate on my queueing comment, any alternative to tabs, to be as good, must allow easily (as easy as a key combo or mouse click) opening links as the last item of a list and show as context the length of and current position in the list. (I don't think I expressed that well but I tried my best)

I think in general queues are an important UI concept, check out lifestreams and such if you haven't.

Comment 6 by Aaron Ballman Aaron Ballman writes:
Don't get me wrong, I still think window managers have a long way to go before becoming as useful as they could be. ;-)

Window's switchable frame type is different from the page panel concept. It provides a consistent GUI look for the common behaviors. For example, right now in XP, FireFox's back/forward looks different than REALbasic's which is different than IE's, etc. But if we were all using the same frame type, the user's experience would be the same in all the applications. Btw, I don't think this is a revolutionary idea, or some sort of UI panacea. ;-) I was just pointing it out.

I guess I've yet to see a 3D window manager that I've found anywhere near useful. Of course, more research on my part would be a good thing at this point.
Comment 5 by Uli Kusterer Uli Kusterer writes:
Sam, the study by Andy Cockburn that you found only concerns itself with perspective effects. It uses a static viewpoint, and thus effectively does little more than what MacOS X and Windows already do (except for size gradients). However, my reason for suggesting the use of 3D is that I want to make more screen space available in a way that feels natural to users.

In current windowing systems, you have to actually move your windows to work with them, which modifies the spatiality we're trying so hard to preserve. With a 3D system like I imagine, you could actually move the view instead of being forced to re-order or resize windows themselves. Since this actually requires being able to move around in space, Cockburn's study sadly isn't of much relevance (though it is still very interesting).
Comment 4 by Uli Kusterer Uli Kusterer writes:
Aaron, most modern mice already support three axes: scroll wheels can be used quite nicely for z-depth. And in 3D, there rarely is a "fully obscured" window. When you zoom in, stuff appears to be moving further apart. I'm not saying there aren't pitfalls, but there are numerous ways I can think of to fix them, and what I've seen of Raskin's (2D) demos of spatial UIs seems to work very well.

I'm not sure how Windows' new switchable frame type is different from a tab control in MacOS X (where you can hide the tabs and the border to use it for paged Assistants etc.) -- do they actually provide different display styles? Does it have any inter-application-communication provisions?

Just having a paged view style is far from enough. Serf had a "stack" control ages ago, and while it's powerful, it doesn't really do anything for window management. Users should be allowed to decide what is where on the screen, and that includes deciding which things switch out in favor of each other, and which things live side-to-side. E.g. while I typically want to view web pages full screen, when I'm entering information from an event's official web site into our site at work, I need to have them open side-by-side. Both needs to be possible, or we programmers seriously hamper users' workflow.
Comment 3 by Aaron Ballman Aaron Ballman writes:
Interestingly enough, I know of a newer OS in which this is handled at the OS level -- Vista. There's a new frame type in Vista which supports the concept of switching views (be it tabs in a browser or sheets in Excel, or source code viewers in REALbasic). Basically, the entire back/forward navigational system is now handled by the OS if you implement this frame type.

At first, I thought it was a solution in search of a problem. But after seeing the number of interesting uses that it can be put to, I rather like the idea. Of course, only time will tell as to whether it really is a good idea for this sort of thing. ;-)

As for using a third dimension -- we already are (z-ordering) and it's not working out that well because the windows are obscured (hence the reason translucent windows came along) and there's no way to bring a fully obscured window to the front using the mouse (hence the reason things like Alt+Tab and Expose came forth). Until the mouse can navigate in three dimensions, I don't see it as much of a solution.
Comment 2 by Sam (again) Sorry for not doing so in my first post but I googled to see if 2D vs. 3D had been addressed in the HCI
literature, which (as I should have guessed) it has.
See for example
I'm sure those interested can find much more.
Comment 1 by Sam Tabbed browsing (atleast for me) is about queueing.
I am unconvinced that 3 dimensions are better than 2.