Multiple Window Coordination for Visual Information Access
in High Performance User Interfaces
Ben Shneiderman* & Eser Kandogan
Department of Computer Science,
Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory
Institute for Systems Research*
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
E-mail : email@example.com
Tel : (301) 405-2680
Fax : (301) 405-6770
Usability and User-Centered Design
Window Manager, Multi-window operations, Personal Role Manager, Programming
Environment, Navigation Problem
Advancing hardware, software, and networking technology have
raised expectations for users of Geographical Information Systems
(GIS), 3-D graphics tools, information directories, scientific
visualization, medical image databases, desktop publishing,
programming environments, network management, video or animation
editing, and other domains. These domain experts are motivated
users who are attempting more ambitious projects that demand rapid
processing and access to large amounts of visual information, but
unfortunately the graphical user interfaces (GUIs) in many systems
have not kept up with the needs and possibilities for visualizing
information. Advantages of large screens and fast displays are
lost or misused, leading to confusion, poor user performance,
frustration, and missed opportunities.
Today's windowing systems,providing visual information access
(maps, information directories, scientific visualization,
computer programs plus documentation, multimedia), do
not differ much in their basic principles
of window management. Almost all systems follow the independent overlapping
windows approach, where windows are allowed to overlap each other,
operations on windows are performed one at a time, and size and location
of each window is independent. This often makes it difficult for users
to locate what they need and to coordinate several sources of information.
We feel that the greatest and most immediate payoff will come by
improving current methods for hierarchical browsing for
maps, large images, file directories, or network diagrams. In our study
on image browsers, we introduced an informal specification technique
to describe 2D browsers and a task taxonomy, suggested design features
and guidelines, and assessed existing strategies [plaisant2].
On our study of future desktop environments we made the observation that
the design of coordinated window applications in which semi-automatic opening,
closing, and resizing of windows as a result of user's activity in the task
domain would be beneficial [plaisant1,shneiderman2].
Based on these changes and the problems of current
windowing approaches, we have updated the requirements for multi-window
systems to guide new methods of window management [kandogan]:
support multi-window operations to promote organization and coordination
of windows according to tasks.
allow fast task-switching and resumption.
free users' cognitive resources to work on task related
operations rather than to window management operations.
use screen space efficiently and productively
for the tasks.
allow fast temporary window arrangements.
We propose elastic
windows with improved spatial layout and rapid multi-window
operations. Multi-window operations are achieved by issuing operations
on a hierarchically organized group of windows in a space-filling tiled
layout. Sophisticated multi-window operations like Hook, Pump, Minimize,
Restore, Move and Relocate have been developed to
handle fast task-switching and to structure the work environment of
users to their rapidly changing needs. We believe that
users' performance and satisfaction could be substantially
improved while reducing error rates and frustration if multiple
window operations are provided. A CS-TR-3473.
Plaisant, C., Carr, D., Shneiderman, B. (April 1994) Image browsers: taxonomy, guidelines, and informal specifications,
IEEE Software, vol.12, #2 (March 1995) 21-32.
Technical report CAR-TR-712
Shneiderman B., Plaisant, C. (May 1994) The future of graphic user interfaces
: personal role managers,
People and Computers IX, British Computer Societys HCI 94 (Glasgow, S
cotland, Aug. 1994) 3-8.
Technical report CAR-TR-713
Kandogan, E., Shneiderman, B.,
Elastic Windows: Improved Spatial Layout and Rapid Multiple Window Operations,
(1995) Technical report CAR-TR-786
[Postcript file] [Abstract file] [Text only].
The challenge of providing access to multiple sources of information has
stimulated many solutions. Multiple monitors, Split displays, Tiling,
Piles-of-tiles, Cascades, Zooming, and Overlaps are some of them. Emprical
studies are beginning to clarify issues and to establish methods for measuring
performance and ability in windowing environments. Coordinated windows, in
which windows appear, change contents, and close as a result of users activity
in the task domain is a strong candidate element of new generation of window
Bly, S., Rosenberg, J.,
A comparison of tiled and overlapping windows,
Proc. CHI '86 Conference - Human Factors in Computing Systems,
ACM, New York, NY, (1986), pp. 101-106.
Bury, K. F., Davies, S. E., and Darnell, M. J.,
Window management: A review of issues and some results from user testing,
IBM Human Factors Center Report HFC-53},
San Jose, CA, (June 1985), 36 pages.
Card, S. K., Pavel, M., and Farrell, J. E.,
Window-based computer dialogues,
INTERACT '84, First IFIP Conference on Human-Computer Interaction,
London, UK, (1984), pp. 355-359.
Card, S. K.,Henderson, A.,
A multiple virtual-workspace interface to support task switching,
Proc. CHI '87 Conference - Human Factors in Computing Systems,
ACM, New York, NY, (1987), pp. 53-59.
Window interfaces: A taxonomy of window manager user interfaces,
IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications 8,
5, (September 1988), pp. 65-84.
Norman, K. L., Weldon, L. J., Shneiderman, B.,
Cognitive layouts of windows and multiple screens for user interfaces,
International Journal of Man-Machine Studies 25, (1986), pp. 229-248.
Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer
Interaction: Second Edition,
Addison Wesley Publ. Co., Reading, MA, (1992), Ch.9.
RELATED PROGRAM AREAS
Adaptive Human Interfaces
POTENTIAL RELATED PROJECTS
Last update : October 13, 1995