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GUI Java Programming Software

Fold 'n' Drop Window Interaction 566

Mints writes "Following up on recent "Desktop Innovation" stories that have left some disappointed, I thought Pierre Dragicevic's exploration of Fold 'n' Drop warranted mention. Described as "a new interaction technique for seamlessly dragging and dropping between overlapping windows", Fold 'n' Drop allows the user to interact with layered or overlapping windows in a very intuitive manner. Refreshingly, Mr. Dragicevic provides both a sample implementation, in Java, and video demos. Mr. Dragicevic is a researcher in Human-Computer Interaction at Intuilab, Toulouse."
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Fold 'n' Drop Window Interaction

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  • by laymil ( 14940 ) <> on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:23PM (#13110020) Homepage
    In my experience, few things can improve on keyboard shortcuts for navigating between windows depending on the amount of windows open. Reaching for the mouse just adds more time.
    • For navigating between already-open windows, when you have more than, say, 4 apps open, I've not seen any keyboard-only technique (or any other technique) that comes anywhere close to the speed of navgation via Expose on OSX (which uses mouse-only or mouse+keystroke) (Expose = mouseclick or keystroke reveals all open windows and lets you choose between them quickly) if you know of a faster keyboard technique, please do tell.. and I'll use it. (but.. before osx i was w/ you.)
    • by Linus Torvaalds ( 876626 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @11:07PM (#13110283)
      So when was the last time you used a keyboard shortcut to drag and drop something?

      This isn't merely for switching between windows. If you can't RTFArticle, then RTFSummary at least.
      • When was the last time anybody dragged and dropped anything, period? Copy and Paste is better. You don't have to "carry" the thing around.
        • Dragging something is much better if you're using a Mac.

          You want to move text to a different application? Select it, and then drag it through Exposé to any window.

          If you drag it to the desktop, it creates a file called whatever.textClipping. The file can be moved around or stored. It's a normal file. If you drag the file to an application, the full text of the file is pasted into your window. If you double-click the file, you can read it just like a normal file. I have three of these files on my de

      • a few minutes ago...
        Ctrl X/C
        Ctrl (Shift) Tab
        Ctrl V

        For me, it's actually faster (but I'm also ambidextrous, so I am equally efficient with my left hand), plus you have more control over exactly what you want in windows. When you click and drag something, in windows it will move it if it's on the same partition, or copy it if it is across partitions. Using the control keys, you don't have to second guess what partition the folder you are dragging it to is on. KDE (IIRC) will ask by default when you click a
        • You are confusing copy/cut and paste with drag and drop, same as the other person who replied. Just because you can cut and paste some things with drag and drop, doesn't mean drag and drop is the same thing as cut and paste. What about dragging something onto a printer or application icon, for example?
          • My understanding is that the objective is to move a file from one folder to another, not to drag and drop. That is a means to do it. Cut and paste is another. Why drag to a printer (I've never even heard of this one) when I can hit ctl-p? Lets not get so obsessed with drag and drop that we lose sight of why its there, the objective. Besides, its just a metaphor, you're really dragging anything.
            Really new users find drag an drop about as intuitive (or less) as mv dir1/file1.txt dir2

            Which to use depends on t
    • It DOES save you time. That demo absolutely rocks. I've been in situations where I've had a ton of windows overlapping each other and I want to move an object to something that's on the bottom layer. So, now we have a choice between clicking a bunch of times to minimize the first few windows, resizing another one and then finally moving the object into the correct position dropping it, then restoring the other windows back to their original position. OR click on the object and fold a few windows back (which
    • by Lally Singh ( 3427 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @08:28AM (#13112347) Journal
      It's funny how you can always tell the OS a person uses by their mouse-prefs.

      Linux: the mouse is only good for click, drag, and select/copy. Users believe the mouse is a useless add-on. On Linux, I agree.

      Windows: good for getting those right-click menus. Also the only way to do things that don't have obvious keyboard shortcuts - preference dialogs, toolbar buttons, etc.

      Mac: Drag and drop everywhere. Bind the middle button to Expose. Eventually you just keep your hands in the Quake position: left hand on the kb, right on the mouse. You know, a GUI.
  • A-ha! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:24PM (#13110023)
    So THAT'S what the backs of windows look like.
  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MankyD ( 567984 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:26PM (#13110046) Homepage
    Kind of neat. My only comments thus far is that if you "discard" a window (fold it all the way over so that it dissappears off the screen) there's no easy way to get it back without dropping the object your dragging first. Similarly, it's too easy to folder over too many windows, by accident.
  • by gooman ( 709147 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:26PM (#13110054) Journal
    Huh? I was expecting an article on laptops.
  • by Trip Ericson ( 864747 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:27PM (#13110060) Homepage
    If you ask me, it'd be much easier to use Ctrl+C and then navigate where you want to go and use Ctrl+V. It's difficult to hold down the mouse button while violently jerking the mouse back and forth to get to the right window.

    Don't get me wrong, it looks really neat, but it's not terribly useful. Sounds like the kind of thing that would fit GREAT in Longhorn.
    • by elbondo ( 785702 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:39PM (#13110141)
      It has been proven through the FPS genre that the majority of the world is very, very good at violently jerking the mouse while holding down the mouse button.
    • If you ask me, it'd be much easier to use Ctrl+C and then navigate where you want to go and use Ctrl+V. It's difficult to hold down the mouse button while violently jerking the mouse back and forth to get to the right window.

      I couldn't agree more. And for those people who would like a "mouse only" solution, you should be able to right-click to pop-up the context menu and select Copy/Paste from there.

    • by wickedj ( 652189 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @11:50PM (#13110523) Homepage
      I think the point is that ctrl+c and ctrl+v are not intuitive for novice users, however, moving the mouse like a finger and leafing through things easily parallels with real-world activities. I mean seriously, whens the last time you used ctrl+c and ctrl+v to move and deposit physical objects (rhetorical)?
      • I think the point is that ctrl+c and ctrl+v are not intuitive for novice users

        You're calling freaky window folding and flopping intuitive? I'm waiting for this supposed intuition to be applied to the desktop UI while my own mother can't even find the start button. Yeap. So intuitive.

        If there is one thing I've learned, it's that ALL computer use is learned. People get "intuitive" mixed up with "ubiquitous" all the time. The fact that most everyone is familiar with one thing is supposed to mean that e

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:29PM (#13110070) Journal
    On Mac OS X, we can do this with Exposé. Start a drag, move the mouse to a hot corner, drag over the formerly-obscured window...


    • On windows, we can do this with the start bar.

      Start a drag, move the mouse down to the title of the window on the start bar, drag over the formerly-obscured window.
      • Unsurprisingly, Microsoft's way is the worst:

        • Due to the infinitely chaotic design of Windows, many windows don't have respective buttons on the taskbar.
        • The user is forced to match the destination window to its respective taskbar button.
        • If the destination window has a child window open, you can't drag items onto it.
        • If the destination window is obscured by another window owned by the application, you can't drag items onto it.
    • This is actually the thing I use Expose the most for. I remember all the talk that it would be most useful for managing windows for applications. When I first started using it, the first things that I really ran into where it proved most useful were how easy it is to grab files and folders and activate expose.

      The really cool thing is that if you're holding a file/folder with left-click, expose automatically switches to a "hover-selection" mentality. It knows it's supposed to be used to dig into deeper

      • I have this with KDE (kompose) and I've never found it useful for drag and drop operations. Perhaps it's because KDE's tabbed file manager means most of my dnd operations are in the same window. Most of the time I'm copying files onto a remote server with SFTP and that's all done in the file manager. Worst case scenario I alt-tab to the window I want to have focus to drop the file, or I have that window on my second monitor.

        It's cool that it works for you, but expose/kompose is completely useless to me. I
        • Afterthought...

          I don't use Kompose for application management either since alt-tab works quicker most of the time. I also use Taskbar2 (from, which gives me window previews by hovering over the minimized items in the taskbar. Taskbar2 removed the last great feature of kompose, and that's app preview so I know what something is before I switch to it. It'd be nice to have this preview integrated with alt-tab.
    • Don't forget that the twitcher works during drags, and spring-loaded folders.

      Fold 'n' Drop would only work for me if I could remember exactly which window showed the directory in which I wanted to drop whatever I was dragging - which is likely not going to be the case when I'm in a situation where the window to which I want to drag is buried.

      If I can't remember all the time, I'm going to continue to use methods that don't require me to remember. I'm just more inclined to use the method that is always app
    • by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:44PM (#13110170) Homepage Journal
      You would think a MacOS X fan would appreciate a more natural and intuitive system for achieving what can potentially be done in other ways.

      The Genie effect, translucent windows during a move operation, Expose, virtual desktops, dashboard, automator, tabbed browsing, and more are things for which similar results can be achieved by slightly clunkier or slightly less intuitive/clear/natural operations. They all offer significant improvement.

      It strikes me that the window folding offered on the site represents exactly the same sort of thing. Yes you can achieve the same "effect" but you can do that on Windows via the taskbar. Neither expose nor the taskbar offer the very natural and intuitive method of flipping through the windows onscreen like flipping through a bunch of papers. The metaphor is much more clear. It is a significant improvement.

      Apple is not the sole source of desktop innovation.

      • Not to mention that it's really kickass. I hate this "oh, CTRL-C CTRL-V already solves that!" crap. I mean, the command line already solved it too.
      • It is probably more natural and intuitive to use folding windows, but from playing with the demo it also seems to take several hundred times as long as using Expose.
        • It is probably more natural and intuitive to use folding windows, but from playing with the demo it also seems to take several hundred times as long as using Expose.

          Are you honestly comparing a java demo to finalised software? Does the java demo have all the wonderful niceness of Quartz to do the graphics and compositing? No. Is the java demo optimised much at all? I expect not. Yes it is slow - it is supposed to give you an idea of how the concept could work, not a demonstration of how the guy expects
          • by edalytical ( 671270 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @12:00AM (#13110561)
            While your comments are insightful and this is a neat idea, Expose will always be faster. And I'm not talking about performance. Picture this, you need to move a file to another folder, but wait that folder is two layers below your current level. You'll have to fold back two windows to get there! Now imagine having to fold 5 or more folders. Since Expose can show you all your windows with one action it wins hands down.
      • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @11:24PM (#13110380) Homepage
        I think the use of the word intuitive is taking it a little far. I don't think anyone's intuition would tell them what an icon is, or the purpose of moving it around, let alone the method for doing so. It's a more accurate representation of a stack of papers perhaps, but that doesn't make it intuitive. When's the last time you dragged a picture or a word off of a piece of paper and put it onto another one? And just because something is a more accurate representation of a stack of papers doesn't make it more effective or efficient. A keyboard is distinctly different from a pencil, yet it's generally a much more efficient means of transferring words from the mind to a visible medium.

        While I don't particularly like the grouping feature of the XP taskbar, if I have several windows open it's much more efficient for me to go straight to the corresponding button on the taskbar than to leaf through a stack of open windows until I found the right one. I prefer to use the ctrl+x/c/v, but I think even right clicking and selecting copy/cut and then navigating to the appropriate window is less cumbersome than holding down the mouse to shuffle through windows.

        That said, there's more than one way to skin a cat. Some people may find the shuffling method to be preferential, and it would probably be beneficial to include such a technique in a new OS.
        • I'll put it another way then: It is very discoverable, and immediately clear how to use it once it is discovered. Start dragging past the corner of a window and it peels back, push that and it folds it away as you would expect. Easy to find, and easy to see how to use it quickly.

          Is it as fast as Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V? No. The again very few things beat vi for editing text - that doesn't make a very natural interface, just a very efficient one. Vi is truly fantastic if you care to learn it, but not everyone is
      • Did you try it? I found it annoying and unintuitive, having tried it without reading the directions first.

        Firstly, I couldn't immediately figure out how to make the windows fold. Sure, when you move the mouse outside a window it begins to fold slightly. But it folds right back almost instanly, leaving you puzzled. I tried moving them mouse back when I saw the fold, but had no luck. It turned out that I just wasn't fast enough, but I didn't realize it until I went and read the site's directions, figur

    • There was a feature in MacOS Classic. I also think it's there in OSX. Basically, drag a file over a folder and hold the mouse, the folder opens up, closing the previous window. You can keep drilling until you get to the desired folder. It's pity that Windows or Gnome don't have a similar feature.
  • I didn't get it at first. I tried the .jar file and made something happen, but couldn't replicate it - then I saw the video. *VERY* neat idea. It would be fantastic if this could be something integrated into KDE4. (Wishful thinking, I know, but wouldn't be impossible. Having something like this integrated into a mainstream (well, sort of!) desktop years ahead of MS/Apple would be great. Of course, what will happen is that Apple will put this in the next OS release next year, then KDE and Gnome will bo
    • Of course, what will happen is that Apple will put this in the next OS release next year

      Why? Apple's already solved the window-clutter problem.


  • Neat! (Score:5, Funny)

    by HisMother ( 413313 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:32PM (#13110088)
    Tried the Java demo. It's a neat idea. It takes a minute or to to get used to it, but then it starts to feel as natural as clearing off your desk with the back of your hand when you and the secretary need someplace to ... well, put something down.
  • Please note (Score:5, Funny)

    by Monte ( 48723 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:32PM (#13110094)
    I would like to announce the following desktop metaphors that I will be reserving for my own development:
    • Hit & Run
    • Smash & Grab
    • Smoke & Joke
    • Crumple & Toss
    • Bind & Dump
    • Pinch & Splash
    • Wipe & Flush (a garbage collection routine for above)
    • Twist & Shout
    • Spin & Puke
    • Slap & Tickle

    Thank you. I will be announcing my API Real Soon Now.

  • by Killer Eye ( 3711 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:33PM (#13110099)
    I think Apple's existing implementation of Expose is quite powerful. Not everyone realizes that drag-and-drop works with it, and more unfortunately Apple does not default to using a "screen corner" to activate Expose (yet this, too, is possible).

    I have it set up so that I can literally "yank" the mouse in the general direction of the lower-right corner to show all windows, perhaps after picking up a file with the mouse. This then allows me to drag the file to any window. Further, I can use spacebar (like in spring-loaded folders in the Finder) to immediately choose a window instead of pausing for a second to have it selected automatically.

    This action is so natural and powerful, I use it all the time. And though I use Linux at work and it is fantastic in many ways, I sorely miss features like Expose in Mac OS X.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Oh yea! And after seeing the video, I think that use of Exposé with hot corners is a simpler and more elegant solution, imo. As you drag the file, it's just a quick swipe to the hotspot corner to do the task with Exposé. With this "fold-n-drop," a lot more mouse movements are required. (plus, in the screen corners you have an "infinitely large target" which makes it easy; whereas the fold-n-drop mouse movement requires more specific movements in a "more finite" area, so to speak.) That isn't t
      • With expose (or dragging over the taskbar in Windows) you are required to make a precise mouse move onto the target window (or taskbar button), plus if you have a decent screen resolution the distance all the way to the top corner then back to wherever your target window has moved to is quite significant. With this method you can relatively inaccurately wave your mouse about a few times then drop onto a fullsizez target window.

        Target area is huge (you don't need to be precise with the folding) and the dis
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You should try mapping Expose to a multi-button mouse. I have a 5 button mouse that has each Expose function mapped to a separate button.

      1. Left Button = Left-Click
      2. Right Button = Right-Click
      3. Scroll Click = Expose Show Application's Windows
      4. Thumb Button = Expose Show All Windows
      5. Second Thumb Button = Expose Show Desktop

      This way, you can easily Drag from one window to any other window with the click of a button, also allowing you to switch quickly between apps. You can also get different
    • Ugh, screen corners for Expose!? Maybe if Apple had been kind enough to implement a slight time delay, but as it stands expose seems to activate every time I overshoot a target near a screen corner when I am using a computer that does have it turned on.

      No thanks. I keep my left hand out of my pants while I'm using the computer, so I might as well use it to hit a key every so often.
  • by Dekar ( 754945 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:36PM (#13110121)
    It's fun to use and all, but why would I have that many windows open, and then need to sort a lot of documents through them? Moreover, with dual screens and/or multiple desktops, overlapping windows should be mostly a thing of the past.

    It's always nice to see new ways to interact, but I can't recall a single time this would have been useful in the past week. My memory can't recall much more than that, but the folding corners would certainly annoy me more often than it would actually be useful.

    • Speak for yourself. I'd love to see this make it into Linux or OS X. I always seem to have 30+ windows open and never seem to be able to find the correct one to drop into. Two 19'' monitors at 1240x1024 *don't* help. Expose doesn't work because it either shows the desktop (no windows) or all windows. Spring loaded windows are about the only thing that helps in this situation.
    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @11:20PM (#13110360) Homepage Journal
      "It's fun to use and all, but why would I have that many windows open, and then need to sort a lot of documents through them? Moreover, with dual screens and/or multiple desktops, overlapping windows should be mostly a thing of the past."

      Nope. I'm doing plugin development for Lightwave. I have a small LW window open. I have my editor open. I have a few file windows open. (Yes, I need them for this.) I have a PDF viewer open for documentation. I have a web browser open for accessing the knowledgebase. I sometimes even have an ICQ window open so I can talk to the people testing the code. I run dual monitors at 1600 by 1200 each, and I still have a bunch of overlapping going on.

      Couldn't tell you if this particular desktop management system would do me any good or not (couldn't get the page to load) but I'll take any help I can get.
      • If you're using X Windows, use a non-xinerama multi-head configuration and put plenty of virtual desktops on each one. Then you can pick-n-mix windows as you please. The downside is you can't move windows from one screen to another (unless you can get that GTK window migration thing working...).

    • For what it's worth, I said the exact same thing when Expose came out. I thought it was another pretty useless feature I'd never actually use, much less need. I have no idea when or where or why I started using it, but now if I use a mac without it turned on I make a very specific 'BAHHHGH' sound.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:37PM (#13110127) Homepage
    I found the demo to be a little clunky, but he did have to implement it himself.

    Once I figured out how it was worked, I found myself wondering how useful it would be to be able to just fold back the corners of a window when I wasn't dragging a file.

    The general idea of peeling back the corner of a window seems like it might be actually useful at times. Sometimes the rigidly rectangular window can get in the way.

    Of course, I'm sure it would eat CPU like all graphical candy, but cycles are cheap I guess.
  • Gloves (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vandoravp ( 709954 )
    Combine this with some kind of hand gesture sensors (yes a mouse is one but I mean more complex) a la Minority Report and you would have a very intuitive "virtual paper" interface. This looks like it will be very handy (no pun intended) for use with a mouse but I think using more complicated hand gestures (in the future, when possible) will really make this paper-like manipulation of windows even more intuitive and useful. Funny how the further we move away from paperwork, the closer we get to being just
    • Us human beings aren't built to wave our hands around all day long. It's okay when you are mousing because you are resting your hand on a surface, but your arms would get very tired if you had to use a Minority Report style interface for the same amount of time as you use a mouse. It's like voice recognition - sounds good in theory, but sucks in practice.
  • Seriously, if you still have both hands, you don't need this. At least not under Windows. While dragging, you can still press Alt+Tab or Win+D (Desktop), so you should be able to get everywhere you want to.
  • WTF???? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 )
    On OSX I've ben doing this for ages.

    Step one:open two windows
    Step two: select a file in window "A" and drag over window "B" (which is overlapped and beneath window "A")
    Step three: Wait half a second for window "B" become the modal window and release.
    Step four: ???
    Step five: PROFIT!!!!

    Perhaps next time you get some wild idea about a revolution in user interaction, you head on over to the Apple store first.

    If you look at the pics which illustrate this ground breaking idea -- it does what OS X al
    • Re:WTF???? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      jesus, you zealots can't wait to shit on anything that doesn't come from the mecca in cupertino. I've read more bitter posts from apple fanboys in this story that I can credit. if it's on a computer and it didn't come from stevie's ass it's just no good, right? fuckin jerks.
      • You know what pisses me off is all the Windows fanboys who don't fucking bother to check out other operating system features outside their own.

        Once again YET ANOTHER feature that has been standard with Apple for sometime is accredited as a "NEW AND REVOLUTIONARY" approach to user interaction.

        And I quote the article:
        "Fold n' Drop is a new interaction technique for seamlessly dragging and dropping between overlapping windows."

        How about dropping the word "new" and replacing it with "proposed" and appendin
    • Modal [] doesn't mean what you think it means.
    • Re:WTF???? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kebes ( 861706 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @12:13AM (#13110606) Journal
      Step two: select a file in window "A" and drag over window "B" (which is overlapped and beneath window "A")
      Step three: Wait half a second for window "B" become the modal window and release.

      What happens if the target window is completely obscured by the front window? If there is no overlapping edge for you to move towards and wait for focus to be given to the underlying windows?

      From what I've seen, Mac OS really is the best with regard to user interaction tricks. It's the smoothest and best interface around. However, this new technique seems to have some advantages in terms of smoothness and it is intuitive. Clicking on a keyboard button may accomplish the same thing in the current Mac OS, but then again in Windows you can drag down to the taskbar and wait for that window to gain focus. It's just not as elegant as what's being proposed here. I, for one, think this sounds cool! You can push away the front window(s) and see what was previously obscured.

      (Then again, I have not used Mac OS X that much and maybe what they already have is better than what is being proposed here... but still I think it's a neat idea worthy of consideration for any GUI.)
  • by I don't want to spen ( 638810 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @11:03PM (#13110261) Journal
    ... I find a sharp blow to the Solar Plexus will also produce a satisfying fold and drop.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Looking at the video, I'm struck again by how ill-fitting the "window" metaphor is. "Leafing through windows"?? Come on -- the model here is the page or the sheet.

    Maybe it was never very appropriate. Windows and icons and menus... on desktops?? Oh my!
  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @11:13PM (#13110320) Journal
    Windows's taskbar already lets me drag and drop amongst arbitrary windows. You just drag the stuff to the task's button on the taskbar, wait till it goes foreground, then you drop it wherever you want.

    I usually have more than 10 windows open, I don't want to waste time peeling through them one by one, especially when I know exactly which window it is (I just recently clicked its task button after all).

    Once I have a taskbar, I don't often have to remember which windows are "below" or "above" each other. I just need to remember which task button represents the window to get to it.

    Which comes to a related point - KDE orders the tasks on the taskbar top to bottom, left to right. This means that if you remove a task, the ALL of the tasks to the right of it will change their vertical positions. This is bad UI IMO. However the person in charge prefers it the way it is[1].

    Windows does it left to right first then top to bottom. This means that only leftmost and rightmost tasks change positions if you remove one, so it's not as much of a mess trying to remember where a window is.

    [1] Nope he doesn't go check with the "people in charge of Usability", because there aren't any. Which probably explains why Linux still has a mediocre GUI in terms of usability.
    • [1] Nope he doesn't go check with the "people in charge of Usability", because there aren't any. Which probably explains why Linux still has a mediocre GUI in terms of usability.

      Which is why it's interesting that KDE is more popular among the hardcore geek crowd. When Gnome tries to make justifiable usability changes, they complain. Here's a hint - usability will be a mixed up hodgepodge unless you have someone whose job it is to prevent that from happening.
    • Unfortunately, the uniformity of support for DnD is very poor under Windows. At least, it's not as wide-spread as it is under OS X.

      (Actually, the only application that I use regularily that doesn't support it under OS X is WMP. :P)
  • Come on, there's got to be a lame gag about flipping, dropping, kicking, scrunching up windows and installing Linux in here somewhere.
  • Although this is pretty neat, I think far more useful would be a new form of "drag and drop" which just happens to be compatable with the the X middle mouse actions, but works for all objects: Select an object (in a program-specific way) to start a "drag", and click the middle mouse button to do a "drop". Normal interface is also supported where you push down on a selected object and then let go at the drop location. Pushing down the middle mouse button and holding it will result in exactly the same state a
  • Style over substance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TintinX ( 569362 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @12:15AM (#13110616) Homepage
    This looks cool and was rather fun to play with in the Java demo, but just how useful is it really?
    How many people actually move/copy files in this manner anyway? I suppose Jo(e) Average may but surely anyone who uses a computer at all regularly would copy and paste - I've even seen people copy/cut and paste using menus more than I have seen them drag and drop between open windows.
    Neat trick, but... next!
  • by HishamMuhammad ( 553916 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @12:24AM (#13110650) Homepage Journal
    In stories like this you can see how much the Slashdot userbase has changed over the years.

    Here's a new UI concept, that is very promising and hasn't been implemented anywhere yet. A true opportunity for Linux to score a "first" in UI design -- this could be the next generation of window shading/rollup, the possibilities are endless.

    And the comments are "in Mac OSX you do such-and-such instead", "in Windows you do such-and-such instead". Things like "this problem is solved" -- as if there was One True Solution in UI design! -- and "before doing your research you should stop at the Apple store" -- as if PhD research didn't do related work assessment! --, enumerations of Windows key sequences, and so on. And those are ranked "5, Insightful".

    A few years ago the comments would range from the usual "GUI? Give me a CLI any day" to discussions on how to implement this on Linux and which wm would get it first, which would (d?)evolve to a healthy wm flamefest.

    The Slashdot audience truly has changed. *sigh*

    • I don't wanna expand on the Mac or Windows fanboy stuff, mainly because I agree.
      I'd like to comment on the topic: to me GUI innovation relates to how this fits into your cognitive space. On that note, I'll say that I find Ion a GUI that fits right in the UNIXspace. Being unprejudiced, it mixes freely between CLI and GUI. You can switch between shell and graphical applications without having to resort to mouse clicks (and if you use a keyboard, contrary to some misconceptions, you still are using your hands)
    • by michaeldot ( 751590 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @03:22AM (#13111344)
      The first post still wants to use his keyboard.

      Personally, I wish the computer cognoscenti *would* give more emphasis to truly graphical computing.

      The fact that the keyboard is more efficient for interacting with the majority of computer operations that people do really just goes to show that our culture hasn't advanced from thinking in pipelineable data chunks to true objects.

      For much software, config files, switches, and option params still dominate over graphical dialogs, and even those that do exist in polished software are still just checkbox and radio equivalents of config settings, not real objects in the sense of "chopsticks interacting with noodles" (associating entities with containers).

      Even most GUIs are simply visual equivalents of the same verb-noun operations that CLIs have always used, eg, graphically foo.txt dragging up a level is the same as mv foo.txt ../ Of course the latter is faster if that's all you're doing.

      I think the future is somewhere in the way non-linear video editing suites and graphical art programs work, but more consistent.

      Hopefully now that OSes are moving to 3rd gen windowing architectures that allow much more complex visual depictions (OS X a few years ago, Longhorn next year, Linux real soon), more experiments like this will be tried, and new interactions will emerge.

      Although this post has made no sense, here's to truly graphical computing!
    • by reflective recursion ( 462464 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @03:26AM (#13111353)
      It's not that they have changed. As I remember it, quite a few people didn't understand Enlightenment. And that window manager really had no innovation, other than bringing eye-candy to X11.

      I wrote a few posts a few days ago on this, but I'll repeat...

      As much as people talk about innovation, few really want such a thing. That's how it has always been.

      Instead of innovation, people want familiarity. Which is why many people years ago did not want to move from text console to X11 when hardware and drivers were finally reasonable. I was one of those people, sadly. You couldn't get me to touch an xterm (or rxvt, my preferred). That is, until I discovered those nice terminal fonts and how it was possible to change the default xterm colors to that of a VGA textmode terminal. That is what I still use today.

      I try to be as open-minded as possible, but I catch myself doing those same things today. I've had many discussions with people who claim to want innovation when they really want upgrades to the things they already use. There isn't much innovative about switching from devfs to udev, etc. yet quite a few act as if innovation occurs often.

      Given the choice between backwards compatibility or innovation, hardware and software manufacturers will always choose backwards compatibility. Only because that is what the end-user always wants.
  • Force Feedback! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ghost1911 ( 146095 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @12:31AM (#13110677) Homepage
    This technology seems like the perfect killer app that would require Force Feedback. Imagine for a second... the more windows you leaf back, the heavier they become. You could blindly lift off a few windows...

  • by 7Prime ( 871679 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @03:11AM (#13111304) Homepage Journal

    I'm all for the improvement and innovation of interface design. Making a design intuitive increases productivity, even among power users who may do a particular action only once among a few thousand, and may not have it as ingrained as expected. That said, there are some major drawbacks to this design that may serve to make it less productive and even less intuitive.

    Counter-Intuitive Metaphors
    Metaphorical abstractions for computer objects only work if they have a clear representation of being similar to object they represent. While some windows (text boxes, for example) have a clear similarity to being a leaf of paper, many others do not; directory windows seem fairly unrelated to 2d objects: they contain multiple objects inside of them, likening them more to being a box or drawer, some 3d abstraction. Thus it is not only counter-intuitive to "fold-over" an object which has depth, but also brutally forcing a metaphor onto an object of which could suggest a completely alien mental abstraction from the one a user original envisioned. For this reason, almost all interface references to real-world objects are either extremely obvious or very broad in definition. The "focus" metaphor works, for instance, because you can bring any object (one with depth or no depth) and put it on top of another object, thus bringing it into "focus" or plain-sight; it is an extremely simple and all-encompassing concept.

    Temporality and Spacial Complexity
    The second problem with this method is its inherent temporality. Most GUI operation requires no timing, and in the rare cases that timing is required (ie: double-clicking, hovering over spring loaded folder), the operation is extremely simple and requires no precision. The one exception is double-clicking, and you can witness its result by watching any surface user fail to open a folder because they can't keep the mouse still while clicking the left mouse button. The folding operation illustrated here, on the other hand, is an extremely complex operation that takes some very precise timing. Even I, an experienced computer user (as we all are), had to practice it many times to double-back on my mouse movement fast enough to correctly "fold-over" a window. Since windows move and change in organization, the operation is slightly different each time it is performed. I can already tell that even if it the operation becomes somewhat natural, I'll always continue to miss on occasion because of it's complexity. And if I'm having trouble with it, I can't imagine what it would be like for my parents!

    UPDATE: I had my mother test it out to see if a surface user could cope with it, and after struggling with it for a few minutes, finaly gave up.

    Accidents and Set-backs
    The third problem I for-see is that folding can easily occur unintentionally and is difficult to undo. Spring loaded folders and "snap-to" focusing work well because their actions inherently require a very specific action: going over a folder and waiting for about a half a second for the window to pop up. Since the cursor is going to be generally moving while dragging objects, a half-second wait over a folder or partly obscured window is abnormal and requires intentionality. Even then, it is as easily (if not more easily) reversed as it done by simply moving off the newly focused window. With folding, on the other hand, it's easy to see how any quick movement during a drag could activate the effect, and when the process of folding is started, it takes an even more complex spacial action to set it back, that being the looping around and back onto the fold from the other side.

    Just a few thoughts on intuitive interface design, using this as an example of what works and what doesn't.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker