AppMap: Exploring User Interface Visualizations

AbstractIn traditional graphical user interfaces, the majority of UI elements are hidden to the user in the default view. Application designers and users desire more space for their application data and thus want to minimize the user interface footprint. We explore the benefits of dedicating additional screen space for presenting an alternative visualization of an application’s user interface. Some potential benefits are to assist users in examining complex software, understanding the extent of an application’s capabilities, and exploring the available features. Thus, we propose user interface visualizations, alternative representations of an application’s interface augmented with usage information. We first introduce a design space for UI visualizations and describe some initial prototypes and insights based on this design space. We then present AppMap, our new design, which displays the entire function set of AutoCAD and allows the user to interactively explore the visualization which is augmented with visual overlays displaying analytical data about the functions and their relations. In our initial studies, users welcomed this new presentation of functionality, and the unique information that it presents. We conclude by summarizing some potential benefits of UI visualizations.

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