CS 789 User Interface Tools


To discuss the rich selection of graphics input devices and interaction techniques now available. Emphasis will be placed on the pragmatic factors of various devices, on the human factors of interactive systems, and on interaction dialogue managers.


The primary textbook is: Readings in Human Computer Interaction: A Multi-disciplinary Approach, by R. Baecker and W.A. Buxton, Morgan-Kaufman, 1987. Additional readings from Designing the User Interface, by B. Schneiderman, Addison-Wesley, 1987; Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics, 2nd. ed., by J. Foley, A. Van Dam, and S. Feiner, Addison-Wesley, 1988; and from the literature.

Terms Available

Normally available in winter.


Introduction (2 hrs)

Approach to interaction; conceptual models; introduction to human factors; examples of existing systems.

Physical Devices (5 hrs)

In-depth study of devices: positioning devices, string devices, valuators, choice devices; absolute vs. relative; return to centre; C/D ratio; device selection; pragmatics; relationship between pragmatics and human factors.

Logical Devices (1 hr)

GKS as the programmer's model; device independence, pro and con.

Interactive Techniques/Virtual Devices (7 hrs)

Twenty-three ways of drawing a line; sliders; picks; chunking; three-dimensional object manipulation techniques; meuns. This section will include the critical viewing of many illustrative video tapes.

Human Factors (7 hrs)

Feedback; visual clarity and consistency; device layout; perception issues; color issues; timing; error avoidance; error recovery; help; undo.

Dialogue Design (6 hrs)

WYSIWYG; direct manipulation; iconic interfaces; requirements definition; top-down design; prototyping and iterative development.

Interaction Systems (8 hrs)

UIM's; Toolboxes; Window Systems; style editors (consider designer's viewpoint); object-oriented approach; parallel input support. The interaction systems covered will include: MIKE, GWUIMS, U. of Alberta UIMS, Tiger, Menulay, and the Switchboard. Window systems covered will include: X, NeWS, Sun Windows, and Andrew.