Original Publication Date: 1999-Feb-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Apr-05
Martinez, AE: AUTHOR [+2]
This invention describes a new mechanism and collection of behaviors that simplify and enhance the ease of use of interfaces, through control surfaces which react to cursor position by "fading" into the background when the cursor leaves their vicinity and so when the cursor enters their vicinity.
describes a new mechanism and collection of
behaviors that simplify and enhance the ease of use of interfaces,
through control surfaces which react to cursor position by "fading"
into the background when the cursor leaves their vicinity and so when
the cursor enters their vicinity.
interfaces, especially those interfaces
which rely on auxiliary control surfaces such as drawers and tool
palettes become available (at first) in web-based interfaces in late
'98 or early 1999.
The problem with
interfaces like Adobe Photoshop* are all
the auxiliary windows and palettes that crowd the work area. The
palettes add visual noise and clutter. This is especially intrusive
for interfaces where the user must focus on the content of the work
area with minimal distraction. In these cases, the user is left with
lots of real estate management tasks such as moving palettes around
or closing and minimizing windows, then opening and maximizing them.
Figure 1 below shows Adobe Photoshop, with a tool
overlaying the image being edited. the palette adds visual noise
and obscures part of the artwork. At any given the user may have an
average of five or six palettes open.
In many cases,
more time is spent moving palettes
around the content than actually interacting with the content,
especially when working with small display areas.
A solution is
needed to clean up such UIs and reduce the
A mechanism is required
to keep control surfaces at
predictable locations and always available, but not cluttering up the
primary work area. This is accomplished through the Non-Intrusive
(NI) control surfaces mechanism. Although NI surfaces remain
positionally stable, they keep out of the way until they are needed
by becoming translucent or invisible, and react to cursor proximity
by solidifying (turning opaque). Two examples are shown which
illustrate the NI behaviors.
example uses selective invisibility as the NI
mechanism. It is embodied in the sequence of four images below. The
sequence shows an interface fragment with a message line (following
the bullhorn) which is a NI control surface.
In Figure 2 the border is invisible, but the content is at
full opaqueness, since the message needs to always remain readable.
As the cursor
nears the message line (See Figure 2), a
window border begins to reveal itself, shown below. The transition
Figure 2, the surface is fully revealed,
showing a drawer-like control.
Clicking on the drawer handle o...