Allen Cypher, Mira Dontcheva, Tessa Lau, Jeffrey Nichols
1 Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 The HCC Section, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet3 Hokkaido University4 Administration, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet5 Administration, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
combining application elements to build custom interfaces for information access
Many applications provide a form-like interface for requesting information: the user fills in some fields, submits the form, and the application presents corresponding results. Such a procedure becomes burdensome if (1) the user must submit many different requests, for example in pursuing a trial-and-error search; (2) results from one application are to be used as inputs for another, requiring the user to transfer them by hand; or (3) the user wants to compare results, but only the results from one request can be seen at a time. We describe how users can reduce this burden by creating custom interfaces using three mechanisms: clipping of input and result elements from existing applications to form cells on a spreadsheet; connecting these cells using formulas, thus enabling result transfer between applications; and cloning cells so that multiple requests can be handled side by side. We demonstrate a prototype of these mechanisms, initially specialized for handling Web applications, and show how it lets users build new interfaces to suit their individual needs.
No Code Required: Giving Users Tools To Transform the Web, 2010, p. 153-172