System for resizing multiple Windows/Panes in a user interface
Original Publication Date: 2002-Sep-14
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21
Disclosed is a User Interface (UI) system for simultaneously resizing both width and height of three or four panes within a tiled user interface. The following describes a specific usability problem facing most modern-day IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) and similarly tiled applications, and the proposed solution for solving such a problem. IDEs, such as those provided by Microsoft, Sun, Borland, and IBM's Eclipse.org, provide a tiled or paned UI. Such UIs typically consist of a primary Editor pane, which is surrounded by additional ancillary panes docked to the edge of the Applications main window. The boundaries of each pane are defined by splitting the application's main window vertically and/or horizontally with a "sash" or similar divider appearing between the panes. The primary pane hosts many different types of editors. Also, depending on the Task, the user will interact more frequently with one or more of the docked panes. As a result, the User finds it necessary to make certain panes larger so that more information can be displayed according to the task at hand. See Figure 1. Current implementations require that the user grab a thin sash or divider. This allows the user to redistribute only one dimension. Also, the sash it typically thin in one dimension and requires unnecessary dexterity, which the user must exercise twice in order to resize both the width and heigh of a pane. Figure 1 A typical tiled User Interface The proposed solution solves two problems: it allows the user to redistribute both width and height simultaneously, and it is easier for the user to grab. The solution is a Control which appears at the intersection of three panes or tiles (or, it appears at the intersection of two sashes). By dragging the control, the user is dragging two sashes simultaneously, therefore resizing the width and height of three panes. The control may be constantly visible, or appear only when the mouse is near the intersection. The UI's cursor is changed to indicate the behavior of the Control. The solution can also be extended to the intersection of four panes, in which case it's appearance would indicate that it affects the separation of panes in all four directions.