To try the Fisheye Menu demonstration applet, you must install the Java 2 plugin. It is available for free from Sun. The Java 2 plug-in gets automatically installed when you install Java 2, and will allow your existing web browser (IE, Netscape, and others) to work with Java 2. Fisheye Menus work best with version JDK 1.3.
Note that Fisheye Menus are available for Java 1, but require Swing. This makes it harder to deploy as an applet which is why we use Java 2 here.
Fisheye Menus are freely available for non-commercial use. They are also available for commercial use via license through the office of Technology Liaison, of the University of Maryland. For more information regarding a commercial license contact Gayatri Varma.
The applet on the left shows our fisheye menu, as well as the three most common mechanisms currently used to select from a long list: arrows to scroll the list, a scrollbar to scroll the list, and hierarchical organization.
The fisheye menu is designed to be self-explanatory. All of the items are visible, and can be accessed by moving the mouse. No mouse clicks are necessary for navigation. Because there are so many items, a small mouse motion will move to the next item, so a focus lock mode has been implemented which lets you select items near the focus more easily. Move the mouse on the right side of the fisheye menu to enter focus lock mode, or on the left side for regular fisheye mode.
We expect that the fisheye menu is nearly as efficient as the hierarchical menu for directed tasks (where you know what you are looking for), but much better for browsing tasks.