NOTE: This blog has been moved to

Friday, March 05, 2010

Microsoft Courier Interesting Moments & Design Patterns

I culled numerous screenshots from the video posted on Engadget in their article: Microsoft's Courier Digital Journal and have organized these into 17 sets on my Designing Web Interfaces flickr site. Each corresponds to an interaction pattern with individual keyframes to call out the interesting moments.
The 17 patterns
What Stands Out to Me
  • 2 individual panes. Perfect for book reading. Perfect for master/detail pattern (which is being exploited in the ipad as well).
  • Pen, finger & hand gestures. Little wider input vocabulary as you advance in skills.
  • Even more physicality than iPad (or at least it appears so if the video is really a true representation). When objects are selected, they move upward to a higher plane and float above the other elements. Using the z-index is a clever way to represent selection. When the elements break free of "flatland" they wiggle/wave like a flag as they move into position. The page that gets mailed, transforms itself into a postcard through a series of origami style folding.
  • The pocket is really clever. Store stuff in the binder/gutter and move around then pull it out.
  • The language of object on object meaning is also richer than the iPad (will the normal consumer understand this?)
  • The use of the pie menu with the pen is a good idea. Pie menus have been shown to be efficient and seem natural in this interface.
  • Returning to the pen. Being able to use the pen for finer pixel level manipulation is good (again, this is not as simple as just the finger, but provides more capabilities). Also being able to input with the pen (hopefully they nail this) should be faster than the keyboard for short spurts (don't have to leave the surface to begin writing).
  • Gobbling while surfing. I am not sure if my former colleague Karon Weber has been involved in this project (she works on touch based interfaces at Microsoft with Bill Buxton). We did the Yahoo! Teachers project together and she & Samantha Tripodi designed the gobbler which I built. The premise was easily grabbing content from around the web and dropping it into "wells/objects". In the Courier this is made simpler by tossing into the right pane (the receptacle for the drop). The tossing seems pretty effortless and the landing target is huge (can you say Fitts law?)
Of course, all of this may just be vaporware, but regardless I found it useful to analyze the interactions as they illustrate where interfaces will be heading as we break away from the world of pure WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointers).

1 comment:

Johan Strandell said...

The gobbler/pane/shelf concept seems to pop up in various places. I just stumbled upon Together's (an OS X note taking application) shelf, which seems very similar.

Nextstep seems to have had something along the same lines as well which was also named "the shelf". I haven't used NeXT myself though, so it might have worked differently.