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BumpTop, Pushing the Desktop Metaphor 213

Posted by timothy
from the slide-'em-around dept.
Alranor writes "BumpTop is a new way of manipulating your GUI desktop with a graphics pen. Documents can be moved and piled (among other actions) as if they were real pieces of paper on a physical desktop. Simulated real physical interactions, such as documents pushing others out of the way as you move them around, are intended to increase the intuitiveness of the layout tool. Given the messiness of my desks at work and home, I'm not so sure this will work for me, but it's an interesting idea."
There's a neat video demo linked from the site (and a "hip-hop overview") if you want to see BumpTop in action; unfortunately for Linux users, BumpTop seems to be Windows-only. As reader idangazit describes it, this is "not just another "me-too" alternative UI; a lot of effort and polish has been put into the (pen-based) interaction, resulting in a very natural way of interacting with collections of information. Less sci-fi than Minority Report, but far more likely to hit a desktop near you in the next few years."

Update: 06/22 16:55 GMT by T : As zdzichu reader points out in the comments below, a visually similar project called lowfat, with an equally impressive video demo, is being developed — with enough sponsorship, lowfat will go open source.
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BumpTop, Pushing the Desktop Metaphor

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  • Lowfat (Score:2, Informative)

    by Peturrr (940456) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:54AM (#15581619)
    This reminds me of something I saw on the UbuntuForum.
    It was a simple start of an Linux app in wich you could manipulate photo's very much like this app.

    Found it! => Lowfat [thepimp.net]
  • Re:At a glance... (Score:3, Informative)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes.xmsnet@nl> on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:29AM (#15581830)
    I would LOVE to use this system for dealing with photographs

    Aperture [apple.com] lets you do something like this: you can arbitrarily arrange photos on a workspace (light table).
  • lowfat (Score:4, Informative)

    by zdzichu (100333) <zdzichu@[ ].pl ['irc' in gap]> on Thursday June 22, 2006 @10:22AM (#15582252) Homepage Journal
    Fortunately for Linux (and other freenixes) users, an alternative is beeing developed [thepimp.net] since February.
  • Re:At a glance... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Flammon (4726) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @10:43AM (#15582427) Homepage Journal
    Same kind of activity happening in the FOSS world. Check out macslow [thepimp.net] the lowfat [thepimp.net] project.
  • by prell (584580) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:23AM (#15582737) Homepage
    User Interface design frequently looks to real-world metaphors because people already understand how to interact with common, everyday objects. You use real-world metaphors everyday, even in the interfaces for cutting-edge applications. For example, Firefox has tabs, and so have filing systems and Rolodexes, for years! When you see a tab, you have expectations about what will happen when you click on one, and you understand that when one tab looks different from other tabs, that means it's the active tab.

    A classic book on user-interface design is The Design of Everday Things [amazon.com]. I recommend that everyone check it out! It's not even targeted at computer application UIs. For example, there is a section of the book that points out the ineffective design of many doors -- especially "artistic" doors that look pretty but make no sense: Imagine a door that has a handle. When you see a handle, you pull. But then you realize that there is a Push sign on the door. Whose fault is this? It's not your fault!! Handles mean "Pull me!" The fact that you have to fall back to searching for a sign is a powerful indication of how completely and spectacularly the interface of the door has failed. And doors have been around for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years!

    So, UI issues aren't always easy, and they come into play whenever you design anything that people have to use. And frequently, presenting users with creative representations of things they already understand how to use, results in tremendously powerful and deep interfaces that are easy to use and learn from day one.

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