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