A New Take on ZUI Technology

Hello world!

We are proud to present the beginnings of a new open technology that aims to enable more people to (hopefully easily) make zooming user interfaces that effectively solve difficult human-computer interaction problems.

Generally speaking, a ZUI is a type of GUI that allows for practically unlimited room for organizing content. It does this by panning and zooming through a virtual space, and by using variable levels of scale for content. Map browsing is the most known specialized type of ZUI, and there are a few lesser known general purpose ones (EagleMode and Raskin for example).

In our research and development, we found that limiting and compartmentalizing the traditional ZUI in certain ways can produce better results for decomposing complex activities and data structures to a form favorable for human-computer interaction. This provides an elegant blend of abstract inter-connectivity and immediate simplicity that exploits human predispositions for both efficient execution of simple tasks, and creative complex thought.

To put it simply, this basically means navigating through a web of interconnected screens that are spatially organized. Each screen contains a flat set of UI elements, avoiding complexity. The streamlined content of individual screens, coupled with the potential of a large number of meaningfully interconnected such screens, together with intuitive navigation functionality, can provide the means for solving a huge number of difficult UI design problems with simple ideas that people can easily understand and use.

We chose to use Cocos2D-X as the foundation for implementing these ideas. The level and layers of abstraction in a game engine is just about right for having enough control in implementing ZUI related ideas, and having enough performance—especially on mobile devices.

The work so far involves basic navigation on and between screens, a few simple widgets and data driven screen creation. It’s still early days… however, we feel if could be beneficial in multiple ways to continue on from this point publicly. Head over to the gvispZUI Bitbucket page to get involved if you are interested.

Here’s to the beginning of a new adventure. Cheers!