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Chapter: User Interface Design : Windows and controls

Window Characteristics

A window is seen to possess the following characteristics:

Window Characteristics


A window is seen to possess the following characteristics:


A name or title, allowing it to be identified. o A size in height and width (which can vary).


A state, accessible or active, or not accessible. (Only active windows can have their contents altered.)


Visibility—the portion that can be seen. (A window may be partially or fully hidden behind another window, or the information within a window may extend beyond the window’s display area.)

A location, relative to the display boundary.


Presentation, that is, its arrangement in relation to other windows. It may be tiled, overlapping, or cascading.


Management capabilities, methods for manipulation of the window on the screen.

Its highlight, that is, the part that is selected.

The function, task, or application to which it is dedicated.


The Attraction of Windows


While all the advantages and disadvantages of windows are still not completely understood, windows do seem to be useful in the following ways.


Presentation of Different Levels of Information: A document table of contents can be presented in a window. A chapter or topic selected from this window can be simultaneously displayed in more detail in an adjoining window.

Presentation of Multiple Kinds of Information: Variable information needed to complete a task can be displayed simultaneously in adjacent windows. For example in one window billing can be done and in one window stock maintenance can be done at the same time using windows. Significant windows could remain displayed so that details may be modified as needed prior


Sequential Presentation of Levels or Kinds of Information: Steps to accomplish a task can be sequentially presented through windows. Key windows may remain displayed, but others appear and disappear as necessary. This sequential preparation is especially useful if the information-collection process leads down various paths.


Access to Different Sources of Information: Independent sources of information may have to be accessed at the same time. Independent sources of information may have to be accessed at the same time


Combining Multiple Sources of Information: Text from several documents may have to be reviewed and combined into one. Pertinent information is selected from one window and copied into another.


Performing More Than One Task: While waiting for a long, complex procedure to finish, another can be performed. Tasks of higher priority can interrupt less important ones and then the interrupted tasks can be preceded.


Reminding: It can be used to provide remainder through messages or popup or menus.


Monitoring: Data in one window can be modified and its effect on data in another window can be studied.


Multiple Representations of the Same Task: the same task can be represented in two different ways in two windows. For example a report can be given as table in one window and as a chart in another window.


Constraints in Window System Design


Historically, system developers have been much more interested in solving hardware problems than in user considerations.


This lack of guidelines makes it difficult to develop acceptable and agreeable window standards.


The result is that developers of new systems create another new variation each time they design a product, and users must cope with a new interface each time they encounter a new windowing system.

Hardware Limitations


Either seeing all the contents of one window is preferable to seeing small parts of many windows or the operational and visual complexity of multiple windows is not wanted.


Poor screen resolution and graphics capability may also deter effective use of windows by not permitting sharp and realistic drawings and shapes


Human Limitations


These window management operations are placed on top of other system operations, and window management can become an end in itself. This can severely detract from the task at hand.


The results suggest that advantages for windows do exist, but they can be negated by excessive window manipulation requirements.


It is also suggested that to be truly effective, window manipulation must occur implicitly as a result of user task actions, not as a result of explicit window management actions by the user.


Other Limitations


Other possible window problems include the necessity for window borders to consume valuable screen space, and that small windows providing access to large amounts of information can lead to excessive, bothersome scrolling

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