Browse Prior Art Database

What Am I Windows for Icons

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000122524D
Original Publication Date: 1991-Dec-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Apr-04
Document File: 1 page(s) / 40K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Keane, PJ: AUTHOR

Abstract

As graphical user interfaces (GUIs) become more widespread, icons and other graphical symbols to represent objects and actions are finding more applications, almost to the point of overwhelming. How are end users to keep all these graphical symbols straight as they are proliferated?

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What Am I Windows for Icons

      As graphical user interfaces (GUIs) become more
widespread, icons and other graphical symbols to represent objects
and actions are finding more applications, almost to the point of
overwhelming.  How are end users to keep all these graphical symbols
straight as they are proliferated?

      Obviously, help -- hard-copy, on-line, contextual, tutorial,
etc.  -- is one way.  But help has a description of the purpose of
the object.  This may be useful when one is learning a system or
application, but is annoying when one is only trying to recognize
what graphical symbol does what he/she wants it to.  Even cartoon
help may describe what an object does, not merely what it is.

      Consider a technique whereby a user enters a mode, e.g. a
"what- am-I" mode, so that by merely pointing at objects, a temporary
pop-up window provides the textual identification of the graphical
symbol.  For example, pointing at one of the three graphic symbols on
the right side of the title bar in the Smalltalk/V* -286 system would
produce a temporary textual display that says size button, collapse
button, etc, thereby reminding, not describing, the user of its
purpose.

      Also, this technique has real uses in education. Consider
applications that teaches a student about the parts of a cell, bones
in the skeleton, etc.  By merely pointing, the student is taught or
reminded what the object is.

      The textual display could be requeste...