[Etoys] A few notes on eToys interface

Milan Zimmermann milan.zimmermann at sympatico.ca
Sat Apr 7 22:47:35 EDT 2007

Hi Richard,

Your zooming interface description is a great. I am not sure I am visualizing 
mechanism of the interaction correctly, but I like what you are describing 
very much (get back home to the nest feels like the right paradigm).  It 
would be cool to have a chance play with it.

(By suggesting "unhiding" the back button + providing a "home" button, I tried 
to describe a "minimum work" changes that would allow to "find a way back". 
Not sure it is agreeable but it seems easy and help navigation)


On 2007 April 2 16:20, Richard Karpinski wrote:
> Wild idea for geographic navigation.
> On 2007, Apr 2, , at 9:00, Milan Zimmermann wrote:
> >    - I think the largest potential issue is ease of eToys
> > navigation for
> > someone who is running the system for the first time. I am thinking
> > how to
> > modify the UI, without significant changes, to help a new user to
> > not "get
> > lost" (for example by following a few projects from the cloud
> > menu). I think
> > people's sense "not getting lost" is greatly satisfied when there
> > is a way to
> > know "how to go back" - either one step back, or all the way to the
> > beginning. I realize this is where the "Navigator->Prev" is used,
> > but it is
> > not very obvious for a first time user, mostly because it's
> > contents (the
> > Prev button) is "hidden". I am thinking if the following would help:
> Background - Why geographic navigation works
> When Jef Raskin, the father of Macintosh, proposed a zooming user
> interface for a hospital information system, it was built that way.
> It worked well, but the part that interests me now is that utter
> novices learned the system quickly. They became comfortable and
> competent in literally less than a single minute. Of course, computer
> experts took longer but they succeeded in less than two minutes. This
> was using a mouse with two buttons designated Zoom In and Zoom Out.
> My analysis is that for millions of years, our ancestors succeeded in
> getting back to the nest. This imbues their living descendants with a
> natural talent for learning to navigate in a geographic world, even
> one where there is a lot of content in zoomable regions. I want to
> take advantage of that native ability in an even simpler system, one
> which uses the graphical input device alone with no keys or buttons
> at all.
> Utility - Why auto-zooming is good for you
> The first  thing to notice is that there is room for unbounded
> content if you can write it very small and zoom in to read what
> interests you. If you showed a shelf full of products, there would
> always be room for more detail, even a complete user manual, in a
> region no larger than ten or sixteen pixels on a side. The rollover
> event could be interpreted to auto-zoom into the region. The amount
> of zooming could be arranged in the construction of the zoom world to
> be just right for reading text or viewing images in that region.
> Next, we can observe that rollover works the other way too. If you do
> the natural thing to return to where you were, you will cross the
> same region boundary in the other direction and be back there again.
> This is so simple that nearly everyone, I claim, will discover it on
> their own. They shouldn't have to, when less than a minute of
> training is required, but they could, especially if they are kids and
> not yet overly concerned with making no mistakes. Indeed, it works
> for the preliterate as well as those who can read and compose text.
> Beyond zooming - Making the graphical input device alone do even more
> I would go further and devise a mouse only (or touch pad only)
> gesture for select, and at that exact moment, make a pie menu appear
> to permit the second half of a noun-verb command to be chosen and
> activated. But I shall leave further discussion of such extensions
> for future occasions.
> Initial introduction - How to make first use painless
> In gaming arcades, there is often an attract mode which gives hints
> about what this game offers. For us, this includes several
> introductory eToy projects. With the auto-zooming interface, it would
> make some sense for the initial screen to have each of them in a
> region with a well defined border and let folks auto-zoom in to
> whichever strikes their fancy. Re-crossing that border, anywhere,
> naturally returns you to the original screen contents. Rapid learning
> can be expected.
> Since there is always room for another help sheet or demonstration
> video on any screen, gentle training can always be at hand. Even a
> direct passage to the initial screen, despite violating the strict
> geographic navigation paradigm can be arranged to be awfully clear
> and quite effective. Any navigation problem which is discovered to be
> common can be addressed in such a way without much time or effort
> required to set it up.
> Barriers - Why this scheme cannot be adopted at this time
> We need to press forward and we already have much too much to do.
> This would be a radical change which we have no time to consider at
> present. It would take weeks to set this up just to see if it works.
> Nobody needs this. It won't work. People will fall into the auto-
> zooming regions and be lost and stuck. It is not now such things are
> done.
> Richard Karpinski, World Class Nitpicker
> 148 Sequoia Circle, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
> dick at cfcl.com  Home +1 707-546-6760   Cell +1 707-228-9716
> http://cfcl.com/twiki/bin/view/Karpinski
> ps Put (or leave) "nitpicker" in the subject line to get past my spam
> filters.
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