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Icon Variations Represent Properties of an Object

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000102100D
Original Publication Date: 1990-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-17
Document File: 3 page(s) / 110K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Temple, AC: AUTHOR

Abstract

This article describes applications based on the idea of a skeleton or 'sketch' icon for a class of object. Additional detail of an object can be surfaced to represent subclasses or instances. The principle can also be used to indicate dynamic changes of state of the object by animation of the icon image. The design provides a mechanism of viewing an object and rapidly recognizing its state through its icon. Sketches extend the benefits of icons, allowing the developing technology to be exploited to benefit the user.

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Icon Variations Represent Properties of an Object

       This article describes applications based on the idea of
a skeleton or 'sketch' icon for a class of object.  Additional detail
of an object can be surfaced to represent subclasses or instances.
The principle can also be used to indicate dynamic changes of state
of the object by animation of the icon image.  The design provides a
mechanism of viewing an object and rapidly recognizing its state
through its icon. Sketches extend the benefits of icons, allowing the
developing technology to be exploited to benefit the user.

      Modern user interfaces for programmable workstations use icons
to represent objects.  An icon is made up of a name and image.  The
name is unique and given by the user to refer to the object.  The
image provides a visual of the object.  Fig. 1 shows examples.  Users
can identify objects more quickly by use of an image than by scanning
a list of names.  Up to four times improvement in the speed of
recognition can be achieved if the images provide good spatial and
color differentiation.  A specific icon image is used for each class
of object as well as the instances of the class.  Thus, an icon for
the class 'printers' will have the same image as all printer
instances making it easier for users to identify printers among a set
of mixed objects.  It then requires the user to inspect names to
identify the specific printer.

      In situations where there are many objects of the same class in
a set, such as charts or documents, all icon images are the same.
The icon has no significant advantage except to confirm visually that
all the objects are of the same class.  Identification of the
specific object must be done by name.  Limitations in system design
have constrained progress in icon technology.  Screen resolution and
the use of static bit maps also inhibit development.

      Instead of each instance of an object in the same class having
the same icon image, one or more properties should be surfaced in the
image.  The appropriate properties should be chosen carefully
according to the class of object.  For example, in Fig. 2 a printer
icon could reflect the type of printer (Matrix, Line, Laser,....) in
the image, quickly separating one printer from another.  Location as
a property would also be of benefit if surfaced in the icon.
Alternatively, a chart icon could reflect the type of chart (Line,
Bar, Scatter, Pie,....) in the image and be more helpful than all
chart icons being shown as, say, bar charts.

      The property being reflected is considered to be the p...