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Design

The Elastic Windows browser is a multi-window browser, where pages are organized hierarchically. Multiple links can be selected and opened in a group window which gives users an overview of a number of pages. It provides a flexible layout where users can quickly organize, filter, and restructure the pages on the screen by efficient multi-window operations.

Basically, the browser implementation follows the basic design principles of the Elastic Window approach. However, there are three additions and modifications as follows:

In the Elastic Windows browser, a new page can be opened by clicking on the link. The window for the new page is opened ``inside'' the window of the parent page, placed on the right, using half of the space. Thus, when a link is followed, the context is preserved on the left, while the detail on a link is being examined on the right. By selecting a different link, the user might either replace the last selected link(s) or add the new link to the existing pages sharing the space.

Multiple links can be opened by the select operation with the left mouse button followed by a right mouse button click. All selected links are opened side by side, placed within their parent's window on the right. Alternatively, vertical and grid placement styles can be selected from the window menu. Links in a region can be selected by drawing a rectangle on the links with the left mouse button. Non-contiguous links can be added to the selection by pressing the control key with the left mouse button pressed.

Adding the conventional open-and-replace strategy is still possible. This way users can skip uninteresting intermediary pages when following a number of links to the desired information.

In the Elastic Windows browser, a hierarchy of visited pages can be collapsed into a hierarchicon providing an overview of those pages. A hierarchicon is an active thumbnail image of groups of pages, which allows rapid display of any page or groups of pages. Clicking on the same region more than once changes the depth of the selected subhierarchy.

Hierarchicons best serve their purposes when the content of pages is rich with images or the text is well-structured. However, spatial characteristics (e.g. location, shape) of pages can also be used in the selection of the active group, though with more cognitive effort.

To provide better visibility in the Elastic Windows browser, contents are scaled according to the width of the window. However, for windows above a threshold width, contents are reformatted rather than scaled to display more information. We believe that scaling of contents preserves visual attributes of information which can provide context to help orient the user, and also provide an overview of its contents. It also allows easier recall for later accesses. However, highly demagnified pages might not be very useful especially for text-only pages.


next up previous
Next: Benefits Up: World-Wide Web Browser Previous: Motivation

Eser Kandogan
Sun Sep 13 18:34:46 EDT 1998

Web Accessibility