Browse Prior Art Database

Previous Button and Tab-Extensions for Accessing Hidden Windows

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000113679D
Original Publication Date: 1994-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-27
Document File: 4 page(s) / 173K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Becker, CH: AUTHOR [+4]

Abstract

Certain aspects of GUIs can be frustrating to the user, such as when a newly accessed or opened window completely obscures the previously active window. As often happens, the user may have needed to refer to or obtain data from a window momentarily, and then return to the previously active window, which is now completely hidden by the newly active window. When this happens, the user must usually either move, resize, or minimize the newly active window to expose part or all of the previously active window, which must then be selected, or execute a keystroke which brings up a task manager or window list and then re-select the previous window from that list. Either case represents additional steps required by the user.

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Previous Button and Tab-Extensions for Accessing Hidden Windows

      Certain aspects of GUIs can be frustrating to the user, such as
when a newly accessed or opened window completely obscures the
previously active window.  As often happens, the user may have needed
to refer to or obtain data from a window momentarily, and then return
to the previously active window, which is now completely hidden by
the newly active window.  When this happens, the user must usually
either move, resize, or minimize the newly active window to expose
part or all of the previously active window, which must then be
selected, or execute a keystroke which brings up a task manager or
window list and then re-select the previous window from that list.
Either case represents additional steps required by the user.  Often
it takes quite a while simply to find a particular obscured window,
or even to know whether a particular window is still active.

      This article discribes two means to directly select a
previously-active window in a graphical user environment, and several
variations and extensions of these concepts.

      Previous Button - The first means consists of a single
additional button added to the "minimize", "size", and "maximize"
buttons commonly available at the top of each window.  Three
potential icons for this "PREVIOUS" or "SWAP" are shown in Fig. 1.
When this button is clicked on, the current window is de-activated
and the last accessed window is immediately brought to the foreground
and made active.

      Basically, the concept for this first means is a button just
like the "minimize" one that is in the upper right corner of most all
windows.  It would then make sense to also have this function
available in the window pull-down menu (invoked by clicking on the
window icon in the upper left corner), as is the case for Minimize
and other window-handling options.

      The function of this button could also be assigned to a
keystroke combination, such as Alt-P, for users who do not have or
choose not to use a pointing device.

      Note that inadvertent use of this function, or use with
unexpected results, is self correcting:  the user need merely to
click on the previous button again to return to the starting point.

      One variation of this concept is that the previous button could
be used to scroll through the set of N windows last used, where N is
definable by the user.  When N=1, this function becomes identical to
the main embodiment.  When N=2, the button becomes useful to rapidly
switch between three windows to accomplish a task.  Activating a
window outside the path (in the normal fashion) adds that window to
the path.  Thus, the N most recently used windows are easily
retrievable.

      In a related approach, more than one previously-active windows
are again available by clicking on a button.  This approach differs
from the "Window Path" approach in that each available window is
represented...