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HCIL-2003-01

Bederson, B., Grosjean, J., Meyer, J. (January 2003)
Toolkit Design for Interactive Structured Graphics
IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering(TSE).
HCIL-2003-01, CS-TR-4432, UMIACS-TR-2003-03

In this paper, we analyze three approaches to building graphical applications with rich user interfaces. We compare hand-crafted custom code to polylithic and monolithic toolkit-based solutions. Polylithic toolkits follow a design philosophy similar to 3D scene graphs supported by toolkits including Java3D and OpenInventor. Monolithic toolkits are more akin to 2D Graphical User Interface toolkits such as Swing or MFC. We describe Jazz (a polylithic toolkit) and Piccolo (a monolithic toolkit), each of which we built to support interactive 2D structured graphics applications in general, and Zoomable User Interface applications in particular. We examine the trade-offs of each approach in terms of performance, memory requirements, and programmability. We conclude that, for most applications, a monolithic-based toolkit is more effective than either a hand-crafted or a polylithic solution for building interactive structured graphics, but that each has advantages in certain situations. Keywords Monolithic toolkits, Polylithic toolkits, Zoomable User Interfaces (ZUIs), Animation, Structured Graphics, Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), Pad++, Jazz, Piccolo.


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