System and Method for Dynamic Value Display in a Graphical User Interface
Original Publication Date: 1999-Nov-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-18
Disclosed is a solution for presenting values that change dynamically as the user directly manipulates elements of a Graphical User Interface (GUI). It addresses the difficulty of associating the manipulation of a GUI element with corresponding numeric value changes. The disclosed solution attaches a 'value flag' to the manipulable element. When the element is manipulated, the value flag moves with it and dynamically displays the value associated with each position of the element. In the Figures, the value flags are implemented within a cluster analysis program, but their usage is generalizable to other GUI applications. In the cluster analysis program example, the appearance of the tree diagram depends in part on the placement of the distance thresholds. When being dragged, each distance threshold line moves horizontally together with its associated value flag. The value flag displays the value associated with the threshold line's current position with respect to the horizontal axis. The value flag changes its appearance (in this example, its colors) while the threshold line is being dragged, and displays the distance value dynamically according to the position of the threshold line. Before being dragged, the color of a threshold line is the same as the text color of its associated value flag, and the background color of the value flag is white. When being dragged, the color of a threshold line become the same as the background color of the value flag, and the text color of the value flag becomes white. This solution provides a clear visual association between the value and GUI control for optimal ease of use. Figure 1 depicts a sample output of a cluster analysis program. Table 1 illustrates a sample embodiment of the disclosed solution. It assumes that the tree diagram shown on Figure 1 is the initial state and the low-level threshold line was dragged. To save space and avoid redundancy, illustrations in the Table include only the bottom portion of the tree diagram in Figure 1. Other user interface controls exist for presenting dynamic values; for example, Microsoft's Excel* spreadsheets display current cursor locations in the information bar at the top of the window. Other programs (e.g., Microsoft's Visual Basic**) also display dynamically the x, y coordinates associated with the current pointer position. In these earlier solutions, values are displayed in a fixed position that can be visually distant from the interface element being manipulated. The disclosed solution creates a much stronger visual association between the manipulable object and its associated value changes by its use of color schemes and tandem motion.