Presentation Based User Interface

Unknown author (1984-08-01)

A prototype presentation system base is described. It offers mechanisms, tools, and ready-made parts for building user interfaces. A general user interface model underlies the base, organized around the concept of a presentation: a visible text or graphic for conveying information. Te base and model emphasize domain independence and style independence, to apply to the widest possible range of interfaces. The primitive presentation system model treats the interface as a system of processes maintaining a semantic relation between an application data base and a presentation data base, the symbolic screen description containing presentations. A presenter continually updates the presentation data base from the application data base. The user manipulates presentations with a presentation editor. A recognizer translates the user's presentation manipulation into application data base commands. The primitive presentation system can be extended to model more complex systems by attaching additional presentation systems. In order to illustrate the model's generality and descriptive capabilities, extended model structures for several existing user interfaces are discussed. The base provides support for building the application and presentation data bases, linked together into a single, uniform network, including descriptions of classes of objects as we as the objects themselves. The base provides an initial presentation data base network graphics to continually display it, and editing functions. A variety of tools and mechanisms help create and control presenters and recognizers. To demonstrate the base's utility, three interfaces to an operating system were constructed, embodying different styles: icons, menu, and graphical annotation.