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[Demexp-dev] Next generation GUI: the current state

From: David MENTRE
Subject: [Demexp-dev] Next generation GUI: the current state
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2005 21:16:47 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) Emacs/21.4 (gnu/linux)


Jean-Marie and myself have thought about the way we could improve the
client and its user interface. In short: drop my idea of using the OS
browser as interface and keep to a graphical client, but with a
redesigned interface.

Here is a figure showing a typical graphical client of the next
generation client:

PNG image

The area is divided into four areas:

 (1) The scroll bar and preview bar. It shows in reduced size the area
     (2). The "cursor" (here a black frame) shows the content of the
     displayed area in area (2);

 (2) The browsing area, with history. Here, is displayed the lists of
     questions, tags and delegates. Along the use of the client, the
     user selects items and, from top to bottom of this window, we have
     history of this browsing;

 (3) The information area, which displays information on the selected
     item in area (2), e.g. information on a question. This area allows
     for example voting on questions;

 (4) The search area: nothing new, a search box. :)

The behaviour of this interface is a follow: each time an element is
selected, e.g. "T2. Blabla" in upper figure, the connected elements
(tags, questions and delegates) are displayed below it (with a new
arrow).  I speak of "connected" elements, in the LFS (Logical File
System) meaning, i.e. the elements that allow to refine the search (more
precise tags for example) or that open a new search path (delegates that
have voted on a question).

The choice of items to display because they are "connected" to a
selected item is made according to LFS meaning. Please refer to
following paper to see how LFS allows to navigate and search in
information. LFS "properties" are our own "tags":

To give an example, look at the upper figure: tag "T2. Blabla" is
selected. On the right panel is displayed information about this tag. On
the green, red and blue areas item below it (with a dark grey bar on the
left) are displayed connected questions, tags and delegates. If the user
clicks on question "Q4. Bar?", the display is updated: the information
about this question is displayed in the right panel and allows us to
vote. Moreover, connected items (questions, tags or delegates) are
displayed in yet another zone below it, with an arrow pointing to it. 

Please notice that each step is marked on the left with a dark or light
gray area on the left (with a step number, not displayed here). If the
user clicks on an item upper in the history, then all elements below the
newly selected item are erased and the new connected elements to the
selected item are displayed.

Of course, the interface as also usual toolbar, url box, bookmarks at
the top of the screen.

Why we have designed the interface this way:

 - simplify the browsing: the naive user won't see any differences
   between questions, tags, and delagates. This allow to *explore* the

 - keeping an history: colors, the enhanced scroll bar (1) and the whole
   browsing area (2) represents graphically a search, from top to
   bottom, towards a desired item. We keep some spatial references.

The search box (area (4)) allows to make a free text search on
questions, tags, etc. We haven't dug a lot that part.

Jean-Marie is going to give a try at this interface, focusing his
developments on the graphical part. 

Of course, its hard to describe in an email a graphical and dynamic
design like this, so you probably think I'm pretty obscure. Please do
ask questions on things you don't understand. I'll try to bring some
light in the cave.  ;-)

pub  1024D/A3AD7A2A 2004-10-03 David MENTRE <address@hidden>
 5996 CC46 4612 9CA4 3562  D7AC 6C67 9E96 A3AD 7A2A

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