HCIL-2011-21

Yeh, T., Wongsuphasawat, K., Shneiderman, B., Davis, L.
September 2011
HCIL-2011-21
Effective use of screen space and reduction of occlusion are important for usability. We present a toolkit to help a GUI manage space and occlusion by visual introspection. Rather than relying on a GUI’s internal model, our toolkit inspects a GUI’s visual appearance at the screen pixel level and computes maps to describe the GUI’s space and occlusion distribution. Moreover, we compare a GUI’s expected appearance perceived internally to the actual appearance seen on the screen for detecting occlusion. We give examples how a GUI can adapt accordingly, such as resizing, repositioning, adding and removing components and borrowing space from outside. We validate the usefulness of this toolkit with two case studies. First, the developer of LifeFlow, a visualization tool for temporal event sequences, used our toolkit to improve the space utilization of the query interface and the main visualization interface. Second, our toolkit was used to implement an automatic text placement extension for JUNG, a popular open-source network visualization library. From the two case studies, we drew recommendations to inform potential users of our toolkit.
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