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Daniel C. Robbins

Windows


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The current task on the stage is composed of several components, including a loose stack, an ordered stack, and a selected windows set. The loose stack is used for overlapped windows in much the same way as the current desktop metaphor. These windows are mounted on stands to visually ground them to the stage. Clicking on one of these windows will bring it forward to a selected window position, replacing the current selected window. 

Moving windows around and rearranging them is extremely easy and fluid.

 

Loose Stack

Window Controls

Selected Window Set

Ordered Stack

The window manipulation controls are used for moving windows around and placing them on various stacks. These controls appear over the window banner when the user points to the banner. 

Move Bring Forward Ordered Stack Loose Stack Add to Selection Maximize Close

Windows in the loose stack can be directly moved anywhere on the stage, using a technique similar to Point of Interest object movement; mouse movement controls movement in the plane perpendicular to the line of sight, and the shift and control keys control movement toward or away from the user. The ordered stack appears to the left of the stage, as shown in the overview figure. Users choose to place windows in the ordered stack to keep currently unused windows organized (e.g., open email messages). If one of the windows on the podium is moved, the stack is tidied to have a fixed distance between each window. Clicking on a page in the ordered stack moves it to the selected window region. When windows are selected, the system moves them closer to the user for greater legibility. Multiple windows can be selected using the "Add to Selection" icon as shown in the picture of the window controls. Each time a window is added, an automatic layout moves the windows so they are all visible side by side. 

Four windows in the Loose Stack (no windows selected) One window selected Two windows selected Three windows selected Four windows selected

Traditional window managers force users to rearrange windows constantly, bring them forward, send them back, resize them, scroll the contents, and iconify them -- all in an effort to simultaneously see related information from multiple windows. Unlike tiled window managers that crop windows and may force users to scroll, this operation does not affect what is visible in selected windows. Thus we use distance in 3D to provide uniform scaling in an intuitive way.

Overlapping Windows
(traditional window manager)
Cropped Windows
("Elastic Windows" U of Maryland)
Scaled Windows
(TaskGallery)