[lively-kernel] History of zooming

Richard Karpinski dickkarpinski at gmail.com
Sun Apr 11 23:01:59 CEST 2010

Hi Alan,

Oh yes, and we shouldn't leave out Schneiderman's lab and Pad++ et al. I'm
not saying that Raskin invented zooming at all. But his take with that
hospital information system worked for virtually instant learning. That's
the main part I want to replicate elsewhere and Lively Kernel is my favorite
choice for where.

I still don't know how to get text into boxes and how to edit it there, but
I would wager that is not a real problem at all. Indeed, when I have what I
want, I'll decorate demo apps with instructional pages all over the place so
that they are at hand exactly when and where the student needs them. The
zooming aspect of the system lets me do that without using much space in the
demo. There is always room to add as much as you want if you just write
small, or very very small.

What I don't know is how to make a box and expand the whole world until the
box is the only or almost the only thing showing on the screen. If I could
then make the contents of the box be a video, or really a video player like
YouTube I'd love it.

Similarly, I'd want another box to be some web site, or really a browser
like Firefox or Chrome, that would extend the utility of the system. Of
course I want another box to just run some arbitrary application.

Now comes the hard part. Dan spoke of Lively Kernel as a laboratory for user
interface experiments. I want more, more, MORE. I want a UI lab system where
I get to intervene with scripting to revise the UI of anybody's app.

First thing I want to do is eliminate modal dialog boxes without violating
anybody's intellectual property rights. When such a thing happens, because
such widgets have not yet been universally banned as inhumane thought train
breakers, I want my intervention system, in Lively Kernel, to prevent my
ever seeing it, record the contents in a log, and push the usually singular
button to recover the ability to do anything else with that app. Usually the
button reads "OK" which I hate. It might be a bit less obnoxious if it said
"Damn", but I still never want to see it nor have my entire computer
captured and held hostage by it.

It might be that some human would have to identify each modal dialog box and
set up to activate the appropriate failsafe recovery, but then a few hours
of work in the UI lab could repair that aspect of yet another poorly built

Then I want to make approaching any new complex app easier for real human
users. Again it may take some hours to simplify the app, removing all
indication of the true complexity available to a power user of the
app. Nobody wants the pain and extended confusion of starting to use
Photoshop. Nobody.

There may be a hundred sensible ways to begin using that giant app, but more
likely millions. If a power user had a good idea of what kind of
mini-Photoshop would be good for a student who just wanted to manipulate the
contrast of an image, I want her to have the UI lab facilities to create
such a simplified app without touching the actual code of the real app. If
she can whip up a demo in a few hours, it would be monstrously easier than
the effort to get Adobe to do it for her.

I don't care if the basis for such a UI lab system requires two or three
virtual machines per app and Unix pipe like connections for the screen
image, the mouse, the audio stream, and so forth with coordinated filters to
accomplish the transformation. Still I want the UI lab to have the quality
Larry Wall claims for Perl, namely whip-up-itude. Lively Kernel has the
marks of such a system. But of course I am asking for a stream of miracles
without parallel in the known world.

Now, just to make certain that I insult everyone, I want to use Fitts' Law
to justify replacing the handles on a Morphic object with an eight way pie
menu (did you notice that the mirror image of 314 is PIE?) activated by
rollover or click (test? set by preference?) on the
much-larger-than-a-handle object itself. The gesture is so easy to make
automatic that your fingers will quickly know what to do and the choice will
require no conscious attention at all, leaving that to attend to your task,
and not the particular mechanism employed.


Richard Karpinski, Nitpicker extraordinaire
148 Sequoia Circle,
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Home: 707-546-6760
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