HIERARCHICAL MULTI-WINDOW MANAGEMENT WITH ELASTIC LAYOUT DYNAMICS

Eser Kandogan

Window management is fundamental to all graphical user interfaces on which more advanced interfaces can be built. Almost all current windowing systems use the independent overlapping windows approach, where windows are allowed to overlap and operations on windows are performed one window at a time. However, the functionality and the design choices of these systems are based on the user needs and computer technology of 1980's. This dissertation presents a new windowing approach, called Elastic Windows, in which windows are organized in a hierarchical fashion on a space-filling tiled layout depicting semantic relationships. It supports multi-window operations which enable fast task-switching and reorganization of the windows with orienting elastic layout dynamics that preserves essential spatial relationships. The Elastic Windows approach is a spatially and operationally scalable alternative to current systems, extending organization, access and manipulation of information. It is well-suited to tasks such as web document, programming and personal role management. An empirical study with 12 computer science graduate students indicated statistically significant user performance improvements in medium and complex task situations such as report examination, job search and programming. Analytical studies confirm the findings of the user study and reveal that Elastic Windows provides a scalable organization that allows rapid access and manipulation of information. These results suggest that the design principles of Elastic Windows are applicable to a variety of domains such as visualization systems, office information systems and visual languages, where an improvement in users' capability to manage larger amounts of information would make a significant impact in productivity.



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Eser Kandogan
Sun Sep 13 18:34:46 EDT 1998