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A user study was conducted to compare user performances with Elastic Windows and traditional independent overlapping windows in terms of task environment setup, switching and task execution in 2, 6 and 12 window situations for report examination, job search and programming tasks. Elastic Windows users had statistically significantly faster performance for all tasks in 6 and 12 window situations, where at times more than ten-fold performance improvements were recorded compared to the independent overlapping windows approach. These results suggest promising possibilities for multi-window operations and hierarchical window organization, which can be applied to the next generation of tiled as well as overlapped window managers.

The Elastic Windows approach not only leads to faster user performance but also dramatically increases a person's capability to manage larger hierarchical information spaces, e-mail archives, personal information, library resources, web documents, source code hierarchies, etc. The Elastic Windows approach is spatially and operationally scalable in that as more information is introduced users' performance time to organize and manipulate information increases less than linearly.

I have also developed metrics and factors that examine the dynamic aspects of the layout such as traceability, accessibility and viscosity and metrics that examine the static aspects of the layout such as total capacity, scalability, visibility and information density. When analyzed according to these metrics, the Elastic Windows approach is found to be scalable, accessible and viscous.

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

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