In this research investigation 3Desque, I explored design possibilities and constraints for 3D enhancements of graphical user interfaces for the Mac OS.
Challenge: The challenge was how could you convey more information to Mac users whilst using less screen space and avoiding visual clutter?
Response: I designed and prototyped a set of information rich behaviors for the onscreen representation of users documents, containers and working environment. Dr. Gavin Miller built a C++ prototype based on my designs and took the exploration of “window” behavior to a new level of sophistication, making them appear to “slap back” moving from a 2D to 3D projection.
Some of the features we developed included live scrolling of windows and support for the smart layout of icons (documents) and trays (folders). Information associated with documents could be explored without opening the application saving users time.
“Periphs” which were black lines at the edge of a 3D window indicating more content was available beyond the window boundary were created. Innovations in lighting and shading techniques and along with environments designed for different user needs were designed prototyped and tested.
The prototypes allowed us to demonstrate the viability of content rich interface behaviors for finding and working with user content on the Mac.
Result: By projecting the Macintosh finder into 3D, we were able to make greater use of screen space and provide a better context for displaying the relationship between user interface elements.
We demonstrated 3Desque at the 1996 Apple Developer conference to good reviews. We also published an article “3Desque: interface elements for a 3D graphical user interface” in the Journal of Visualization and Computer Animation in June 1999.