A current interest is to develop and later to test the effectiveness of an interchangeable batch-WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) picture drawing program. Faina Shpilberg, one of Berry's M.Sc. students, developed WD-PIC, which has a windowed, direct manipulation, WYSIWYG interface not unlike MacDraw, XFIG, Adobe Illustrator, etc. There is a pallet with buttons for a number of different shapes. In most such programs, clicking on any of these and then clicking on two or more of its points in the drawing field cause the requested shape to show up at the specified points. WD-PIC has a batch language for expressing pictures, i.e. the PIC language, as its ASCII internal representation. Clicking on a shape button causes the PIC code for the shape to go into the internal representation while the shape shows up on the drawing field at the default size and position without the mouse having to designate any points. The internal representation of a WD-PIC drawing is thus an ASCII file that can be edited by an ordinary text editor. The result is that any step in the production or changing of a drawing can be done with the most convenient interface for the step. Building a picture from scratch can be done in a direct-manipulation WYSIWYG way, while global substitution of captions or addition of new items in the middle of the picture can be done by editing the internal representation. The research issues were the user interfaces, the division of work between the batch and WYSIWYG approaches, and portable construction of this software by using GUI tool kits and portions of the code of the batch PIC program.
Shpilberg, Faina, ``WD-pic, a WYSIWYG, Direct-Manipulation pic,'' M.Sc. Project, Technion, Haifa, Israel, 1997: FTP
Since Shpilberg finished her thesis, several others have tried to improve on the work, including:
a group of Technion students: FTP
and some groups of Waterloo students: FTP
Finally, Lihua Ou did a production quality version for her Master's thesis, Ou, Lihua, ``WD-pic, a New Paradigm of Picture Drawing Programs and its Development as a Case Study of the Use of its User's Manual as its Specification'', Master's Thesis, School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada, 2002: FTP
All of this is together at the WD-PIC directory FTP
What remains to do is for someone to do a controlled experimental evaluation of the effectiveness of WD-PIC's user interface as compared to the traditional picture drawing software user interface, in what is called a usability study. Any takers?