“Pad: an alternative approach to the computer interface” by Perlin and Fox

  • ©Ken Perlin and David Fox




    Pad: an alternative approach to the computer interface



    We believe that navigation in information spaces is best supported
    by tapping into our natural spatial and geographic ways of thinking.
    To this end, we are developing a new computer interface model
    called Pad.
    The ongoing Pad project uses a spatial metaphor for computer
    interface design. It provides an intuitive base for the support of such
    applications as electronic marketplaces, information services, and
    on-line collaboration. Pad is an infinite two dimensional
    information plane that is shared among users, much as a network
    file system is shared. Objects are organized geographically; every
    object occupies a well defined region on the Pad surface.
    For navigation, Pad uses “portals” – magnifying glasses that
    can peer into and roam over different parts of this single infinite
    shared desktop; links to specific items are established and broken
    continually as the portal’s view changes. Portals can recursively
    look onto other portals. This paradigm enables the sort of peripheral
    activity generally found in real physical working environments.
    The apparent size of an object to any user determines the amount of
    detail it presents. Different users can share and view multiple
    applications while assigning each a desired degree of interaction.
    Documents can be visually nested and zoomed as they move back
    and forth between primary and secondary working attention.
    Things can be peripherally accessible.
    In this paper we describe the Pad interface. We discuss how to
    efficiently implement its graphical aspects, and we illustrate some
    of our initial applications.


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