CS376 User Interface Toolkits

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					stanford hci group / cs376

User Interface Toolkits

Jeffrey Heer · 26 May 2009 http://cs376.stanford.ed

Final Project Presentations Tuesday June 9, 3:30-6:30pm,
104 Gates 8 minute presentations  6 min for research, 2 min for questions  Start with an overview:
 1 sentence statement of your research result  1 slide / 4 sentences of what you 2 did and why

In the beginning…

cryptonomicon.com/beginning.html

The Xerox Alto (1973)

Event-Driven UIs
Old model (e.g., UNIX shell, DOS)
 Interaction controlled by system, user queried for input when needed by system

Event-Driven Interfaces (e.g., GUIs)
 Interaction controlled by user  System waits for user actions and then reacts

Periodic Table of Motif Widgets

Toolkit Example: Java Swingtoolkit with a widget set  GUI
and an API

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User Interface Builders

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Event Dispatch Loop
Event Queue • Queue of input events
Mouse moved (t0,x,y)

Event Loop (runs in dedicated thread) • Remove next event from queue • Determine event type • Find proper component(s) • Invoke callbacks on components • Repeat, or wait until event arrives

Component • Invoked callback method • Update application state • Request repaint, if needed

Event Dispatch
Event Queue • Mouse moved (t0,x,y) • Mouse pressed (t1,x,y,1) • Mouse dragged (t2,x,y,1) • Key typed (t3, ‘F1’) •…
(queues and dispatches incoming events in a dedicated thread)

Window

Panel
Label TextArea

Panel

/* callback for TextArea */ public void mouseMoved(e) { // process mouse moved event }

Button

Button

Success of Tools
Today‟s tools are highly successful
 Window Managers, User Interface Toolkits, and Interface Builders are ubiquitous  Most software built using them  Are based on many years of HCI research:
 Brad A. Myers. “A Brief History of Human Computer Interaction Technology.” ACM interactions. Vol. 5,11

Why Tools?
The quality of the interfaces will be higher.
Why?  Rapid prototyping.  Easier to incorporate changes motivated by evaluation.  Re-use affords investment in high quality tools.  Consistency of interface design.  Enable collaboration among specialists.

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Why Tools?
The user interface will be easier to create and maintain.
Why?  Less code to write due to component re-use.  Better modularization, separation of concerns  Tools may abstract complex systems or algorithms.  Easier to port an application to 13

What should tools do?
Help design the interface given a specification of the tasks. Help implement the interface given a design. Help evaluate the interface after it is designed. Create easy-to-use interfaces. Allow the designer to rapidly investigate different designs. Allow non-programmers to create user interfaces. Provide portability across different 14 machines and devices.

Tools might do:
 Provide sets of standard UI components  Guide the implementation  Help with screen layout and graphic design.  Validate user inputs  Handle user errors  Handle aborting and undoing of operations  Provide help and prompts  Deal with field scrolling and editing  Insulate the application from all device dependencies and the underlying software and hardware systems.
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Application Types
What application domains are “deserving” of specialized toolkit support?

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Application Types
Each has own unique UI style, and implementation challenges

           

Word processors Drawing programs (CAD/CAM) Painting programs Mail readers Spreadsheets Programming environments / code editors WWW Interactive games Visualizations Automated-teller machines (ATM) Virtual Reality Multi-media
 Video  Animation

 Controlling machinery
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DiamondSpin Toolkit
 Toolkit for tabletop user interfaces  [Shen, Vernier, Forlines, Ringel] CHI ‟04

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Tabletop UI Needs
 Multi-user support
    Identity-aware widgets Multiple menus Public and personal spaces Resolving conflicting actions

 Arbitrary orientation of UI elements
 Techniques to control orientation and layout  Rotation sensitive components 20

iStuff Toolkit
 Physical UI components for ubiquitous computing environments (multiple users, devices, and applications)
 [Ballagas, Ringel, Stone, Borchers], CHI „03

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iStuff Design
 iStuff components
 Device + proxy (“smarts” are in the proxy)

 PatchPanel
 Translate between iStuff events and application-specific events  Run-time retargetable events  Address dimension mismatches

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Discussion of Themes
Address the useful & important aspects of UIs
 Narrower tools have been more successful than ones that try to do “everything”  Do one thing well

Threshold / Ceiling
 Research systems often aim for high ceiling  Successful systems often seem to
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Threshold & Ceiling
Programming in C

Visual Basic Director (v6) HyperCard
MFC C Programming C Programming

Difficulty of Use
Lingo HyperTalk Basic

xCmds

Goal

Sophistication of what can be created
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Discussion of Themes, cont. Least Resistance Path of
 Tools should guide implementers into better user interfaces  Goal for the future: do this more?

Predictability
 Programmers do not seem willing to release control  Especially when system may do suboptimal things

Moving Targets
 Long stability of Macintosh Desktop paradigm has enabled maturing of tools26

Evaluating User Interface aTools  “An API is user interface
where programmers are the users”
 ? Evaluate toolkit as you would a UI?

 Factors
 Expressiveness (Ceiling)  Development Rate (of skilled user)  Learning Rate (to become skilled) 27

The Future of Interface Tools Supporting…
 Prototyping  Collaboration  Evaluation
 of interfaces built with tools  of tools themselves – how to prototype, test, iterate?

 Emerging interface styles, such as
 mobile  recognition-based UIs (speech, pens, vision)

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Current Research Challenges space  Complex design
 e.g., do we have to update the toolkit every time someone creates a new sensor or actuator?

 Ambiguous input
 Speech, gestures, computer vision, etc. aren‟t recognized as accurately as mouse clicks. Should the toolkit handle the recognition?
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Summary
 Toolkits provide reusable interface components to simplify UI development  Toolkit trap: it‟s tempting to only make UIs that the toolkit makes easy, instead of making what‟s best for a specific app  Toolkit types:
 WIMP (Garnet, Swing, Motif, etc)  Specialty (Phidgets, iStuff, Papier-Mache, DiamondSpin, 30

Next Time: Adaptive Interaction Sharon‟s online You should use
paper viewer for the next set of readings.

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