Browse Prior Art Database

Desktop Compass

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000105555D
Original Publication Date: 1993-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-20
Document File: 2 page(s) / 78K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Dunsmoir, HS: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Users of graphical user interfaces (GUIs) often deal with large and complex logical desktops. Existing art even allows objects to be placed an arbitrary distance beyond a single desktop, that is, "off the screen". Users may have difficulty navigating to an object which resides off the screen, under other objects, or simply on a cluttered desktop.

This text was extracted from an ASCII text file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 52% of the total text.

Desktop Compass

      Users of graphical user interfaces (GUIs) often deal with large
and complex logical desktops.  Existing art even allows objects to be
placed an arbitrary distance beyond a single desktop, that is, "off
the screen".  Users may have difficulty navigating to an object which
resides off the screen, under other objects, or simply on a cluttered
desktop.

      In the current art, when a user of a GUI wishes to locate an
object, a list of current applications such as the OS/2* Task List
can be surfaced, allowing the user to access an item off the list.
The disadvantages of this method are:

1.  Only currently active (running) programs are included in the
    list.

2.  To access an item off the list, the running program must be
    restored as a windowed (non-iconic) session.
3.  The task list is unavailable to a user attempting to complete a
    direct manipulation operation.
4.  The task list is a text-based (non-graphical) entity.  Likewise,
    common GUI find (or search or locate) implementations are list-
    and character-based.

      Provided is a desktop "compass" metaphor which may be
substituted for the mouse pointer upon request of the user.  To enter
the compass mode the user might ask the system to search for a given
object, and rather than receive the results in a window list,
initiate the compass function.

      The desktop compass operates much as a physical compass does,
that is, it has an arrow which points toward the object requested.
The object to be found may be identified to the system by any means,
including making a textual/iconic choice from an Object List.

      The process operates as follows:  If the object in question
lies to the right of the current mouse pointer position, then the
compass arrow points to the right.  As the user moves the pointer
relative to the object to be found, the direction of the arrow
changes or "rotates" about a 360-degree span.  Once the object is
"found" by the user, the compass metaphor may be cancelled either by
an arbitrary mouse click/keyboard sequence, or (in the preferred
embodiment) by simply moving the compass itself over the locati...