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Oakland, CA

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Look closer. Posted on 08/15/2001.

I've written before how Zooming User Interfaces intrigue me. I think they're a model that can best take advantage of human cognitive capabilities. Doing some research, I found some good introductions to the topic:
Introduction - from a report on the effect of zooming speed in such interfaces
Zooming User Interface Page - With a bunch of links to interesting examples

As well as an application of Zooming User Interfaces:
Padprints (238k PDF), a web-browser history tool exploiting treemaps and zooming user interfaces.

On a tangent, the title of this post is derived from the marketing of the movie American Beauty, the DVD of which I rented from Netflix (my favorite web service, now that Webvan is gone). The DVD is great--the director's commentary is superb and insightful, and the storyboard-to-final scene comparison with the director and cinematographer is quite revealing.

7 comments so far. Add a comment.

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This is a great juxtaposition as there seems to be strong similarities between the zoomable interfaces and director's commentary and/or storyboards on DVDs. The American Beauty and the Matrix DVDs are wonderful examples of added features, but also give great insights to the minds of the creators. I wish projects could have directors commentary or "making of" videos so as the client begins to better grasp what was done on the project and the impcacts of the decisions made they could jump to an entertaining method of accessing this info. The zoomable interfaces could provide some of this in a timeline format or page/screen annotation hyperlink to dig into the developer's and project manager's notes and comments.
Posted by vanderwal @ 08/16/2001 04:48 AM PST [link to this comment]

From one of my 'blog entries:
The PhotoMesa Image Browser is a zoomable image browser created by Ben Bederson, one of guys in charge of the Jazz Toolkit for Zoomable User Interfaces. This thing is SO COOL...a must have for you digital camera owners.
Posted by brad lauster @ 08/16/2001 10:45 AM PST [link to this comment]

A similar zooming image browser is Sony's VisualFlow. Presented at CHI2001, it was designed by Eduardo Sciamerella, who is interviewed here.
Posted by peterme @ 08/16/2001 03:11 PM PST [link to this comment]

Yeah, zooming is cool. The ability to focus on certain bits of information, while keeping the big picture in perspective is incredibly useful. It is great to be able to zoom in on a picture in an album, or a storyboard. I also like the use of non-linear magnification ( ) for displaying local areas of graphs.

However, I think that the zooming approach has it's limitations. Especially when it comes to text. As opposed to images, text becomes illegible under both too high, and too low a magnification. Thus, sitemaps generated with Pad++ can only display two levels of a hierarchy at a time. Adding colored shapes to the map makes it seem as if 3 levels are being displayed, but this isn't really so. If you want to get some funky visuals while browsing a (hierarchical) sitemap, you might as well use inxight's star tree. At least then you can actually read the labels at depth 3.
Posted by Alex Shapiro @ 08/16/2001 10:47 PM PST [link to this comment]


i thought the zooming in the city was really nice (and creepy :) also you can zoom in on the colour pictures on
Posted by kenny @ 08/18/2001 01:15 PM PST [link to this comment]

Does anyone know if ZUI or the Visual Zooming Interface method has been implemented in anything besides graphic programs like Sony's VisualFlow? I would love to see someone make a ZUI Like windows... or thinking small... just a browser.
Posted by John @ 09/04/2002 08:33 PM PST [link to this comment]

A web browser was among the first applications made with a ZUI:
Posted by peterme @ 09/04/2002 08:48 PM PST [link to this comment]

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