Corners, edges and multiple monitors

13 Apr 2008 - 3:53pm
6 years ago
9 replies
1254 reads
Mattias Konradsson
2008

Hi all,

Using corners and edges of the screen for different things can as we all
know be a great timesaver. However in the day of the multiple monitor we're
facing some new problems, screens do not have edges on all sides.

So I'm designing an application that uses the edges for some global
navigation (left, right, up, down on respective edge). When you hit an edge
there's an visual marker along that edge and if you click it activates the
navigation. I want it to be useful even though I have multiple monitors,
what do I do?

The first thing I thought about was something like "sticky edges" where the
cursor wouldn't cross the screen boundary unless you hold the left mouse
button down. Not immediately intuitive but perhaps a behavior you could
teach. Unfortunately that is more of a os-level feature and I'm not sure if
I can implement it.

The second solution might be to let the user overshoot the edge, but still
show the markers and if you click it activates the navigation. So if I have
a monitor to the right, drag over the cursor to right screen, the right edge
marker would show. This of course becomes a problem though if you don't want
to navigate but simply work in that screen.

You make right clicking hide the marker and the make the right screen the
"active one" (going outside it's edges will activate the markers) Clicking
the right mouse button will however in most cases also bring up a context
menu so it's slightly annoying.

Is there a good solution to this problem?

Best regards
--
Mattias Konradsson

ution to this problem?

Best regards
--
Mattias Konradsson

Comments

15 Apr 2008 - 7:29am
kimbieler
2007

Mattias,

Based on how I use my two monitors, I would suggest you do something
closer to your first solution.

I'm thinking that if you create a zone all the way around the inside
of screen 1 where the cursor activates the navigation, as soon as I
travel over there with my cursor and see a navigation bar pop up, I'm
going to slow down my mouse. So, it wouldn't take long before I "got"
that the edges are where the navigation resides. You could help the
user by making the right and left zones a bit wider, in case a second
monitor is present.

I don't know if this is helpful, but Adobe palettes detect screen
edges, even if there are two monitors (on the Mac -- I don't know
about Windows). If I want to anchor my palettes to screen 2, they seem
to be aware of where the edge is.

-- Kim

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Kim Bieler Graphic Design
www.kbgd.com
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

15 Apr 2008 - 8:54am
sylvania
2005

Hi Mattias,

I assume your motivation for using the edges stems from Fitts' law, but Fitt's law really isn't about the physical or perceived edges of the monitors, it's about the virtual edges of the user's desktop. The reason the edges and corners are so useful is that the mouse naturally stops there, so the easiest mouse movement - high velocity, minimum aim - results in successful target acquisition with the least amount of effort. Because the physical monitor boundaries aren't translated to the virtual desktop in a multiple-monitor setup, Fitts' law does not apply to those edges at all. Technically, the perceived boundaries do carry over, and users won't *usually* position windows to span that boundary, but I'd argue that there's no more time-saving or usability enhancements to be had at those edges than there is at the edge of a window positioned in the middle of a single monitor (from a Fitts' law perspective). And trying to force boundary behaviour at an OS level in order to get Fitts' benefits seems likely to feel unnatural, disconcerting, and possibly annoying.

Sticky edges could be a good thing, but I'd approach it from the perspective of the window boundaries, not the monitor boundaries. Slowing down the mouse to help with acquisition of a target is a well-known accessibility trick, but can annoy a lot of users. Stopping the cursor unless a button is held seems even more likely to cause frustration.

Another Fitts'-related solution could be to make your target larger.

Cheers,
Sylvania

User Experience Designer

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Mattias Konradsson
Sent: Sunday, April 13, 2008 4:53 PM
To: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Corners, edges and multiple monitors

Hi all,

Using corners and edges of the screen for different things can as we all
know be a great timesaver. However in the day of the multiple monitor we're
facing some new problems, screens do not have edges on all sides.

So I'm designing an application that uses the edges for some global
navigation (left, right, up, down on respective edge). When you hit an edge
there's an visual marker along that edge and if you click it activates the
navigation. I want it to be useful even though I have multiple monitors,
what do I do?

The first thing I thought about was something like "sticky edges" where the
cursor wouldn't cross the screen boundary unless you hold the left mouse
button down. Not immediately intuitive but perhaps a behavior you could
teach. Unfortunately that is more of a os-level feature and I'm not sure if
I can implement it.

The second solution might be to let the user overshoot the edge, but still
show the markers and if you click it activates the navigation. So if I have
a monitor to the right, drag over the cursor to right screen, the right edge
marker would show. This of course becomes a problem though if you don't want
to navigate but simply work in that screen.

You make right clicking hide the marker and the make the right screen the
"active one" (going outside it's edges will activate the markers) Clicking
the right mouse button will however in most cases also bring up a context
menu so it's slightly annoying.

Is there a good solution to this problem?

Best regards
--
Mattias Konradsson

ution to this problem?

Best regards
--
Mattias Konradsson

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15 Apr 2008 - 7:42am
Mattias Konradsson
2008

>
> I'm thinking that if you create a zone all the way around the inside
> of screen 1 where the cursor activates the navigation, as soon as I
> travel over there with my cursor and see a navigation bar pop up, I'm
> going to slow down my mouse. So, it wouldn't take long before I "got"
> that the edges are where the navigation resides. You could help the
> user by making the right and left zones a bit wider, in case a second
> monitor is present.

The problem with requiring the user to hit a specific area along the edge is
that you loose the "infinite width" aspect of edges. If it's a normal edge
without multiple monitors you can simply swoop the mouse in the general
direction of the edge and click which is much fast than hitting a target...

best regards
--
Mattias Konradsson

15 Apr 2008 - 9:36am
sylvania
2005

Quote: "However, this particular application replaces the windows metaphor with something else and the edges are used to flip between different virtual screens"

Ah, well that's entirely different, then. :)

In that case, sticky (or slightly sluggish) edges does sound like the best option to me, also.
Please forgive my confusion.

Cheers,
Sylvania

User Experience Designer

15 Apr 2008 - 2:28pm
Rob Mitchell
2008

Forgive my light reply but what about implementing a gesture metaphor
to trigger menu?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=28072

24 Apr 2008 - 11:28pm
Troy Gardner
2008

I have 4 x 24" monitors (~4x4' of monitors), when an application is
spanned across multiple....putting things at the borders makes for
tons of unecessary mouse movement. So I've really come to like
contextual hovers or right clicks.

http://intrio.com/blog/2008/01/21/a-great-deal-1920x1600-24-monitor-for-370by-westinghouse/
(not the best pic, as th setup is still in progress)

On Sun, Apr 13, 2008 at 1:53 PM, Mattias Konradsson
<mattias at konradsson.net> wrote:
> Hi all,
>
>
> Using corners and edges of the screen for different things can as we all
> know be a great timesaver. However in the day of the multiple monitor we're
> facing some new problems, screens do not have edges on all sides.

25 Apr 2008 - 1:12am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Apr 24, 2008, at 9:28 PM, Troy Gardner wrote:

> I have 4 x 24" monitors (~4x4' of monitors), when an application is
> spanned across multiple....putting things at the borders makes for
> tons of unecessary mouse movement. So I've really come to like
> contextual hovers or right clicks.

I'm sorry... People who have four feet of monitor space in use
simultaneously with traditional computer applications don't get to
complain about excessive mouse movements. That's like someone with a
Hummer complaining about gas prices.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

25 Apr 2008 - 2:36am
Troy Gardner
2008

Hummers consume more gas due to the laws of physics. What golden rule
says that to have more screen real estate should make applications
less useable? Even a single large monitor can reflect all the
problems: Keyholes galore, assuming a single resolution, or
peripherals for all status, problems with liquid layout, poor
contextual design, unintelligent modals. If you are suggesting this
is fine and dandy, I'll let you stick with your scrolling fetishes,
and stone tablets...I have more fun things to do.

Larger monitors, faster harddrives, and cpu's are here to stay, people
are already routinely hooking up pc's to big screens, and
microprojectors are coming soon. I'm only a few years ahead of the
power-user consumer. Ironically mobile phones and GPS with the most
limited ui's tend to favor contextual.

On Thu, Apr 24, 2008 at 11:12 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk
<andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
>
> On Apr 24, 2008, at 9:28 PM, Troy Gardner wrote:
>
> > I have 4 x 24" monitors (~4x4' of monitors), when an application is
> > spanned across multiple....putting things at the borders makes for
> > tons of unecessary mouse movement. So I've really come to like
> > contextual hovers or right clicks.
>
> I'm sorry... People who have four feet of monitor space in use
> simultaneously with traditional computer applications don't get to
> complain about excessive mouse movements. That's like someone with a
> Hummer complaining about gas prices.
>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Principal, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
>
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>
>

25 Apr 2008 - 7:18am
Mattias Konradsson
2008

I have 4 x 24" monitors (~4x4' of monitors), when an application is
> spanned across multiple....putting things at the borders makes for
> tons of unecessary mouse movement. So I've really come to like
> contextual hovers or right clicks.
>
>
> http://intrio.com/blog/2008/01/21/a-great-deal-1920x1600-24-monitor-for-370by-westinghouse/
> (not the best pic, as th setup is still in progress)
>
>
Right-context menus are golden (and perhaps we should start utilizing that
third-mouse button better too) but I still think that screen edges on a big-
or multi-monitor can be a valuable tool. Since it's the edge of *each*
monitor that activates an action it shouldnt be slower and you should also
most likely have mouse acceleration high enough that you can "swoop" to the
current edge and activate

I agree that large and multiple monitors introduce new problems and issues
not evident when the windows metaphor was introduced. Considering the
plummeting prices of screens coupled with the proven increased efficiency of
larger and multiple monitors it is a reality we must start adopting
ourselves too and I think the change needed is more fundamental than we
think

I love my 30" monitor :)

mvh
--
Mattias Konradsson

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