DeepDocument: use of a multi-layered display to provide context awareness in text editing

M. Masoodian, S. McKoy, W.J. Rogers and D. Ware

2004 (May)

Working Paper No. 05/2004


The most commonly used view in word processing software shows only the paragraphs of text immediately adjacent to the cursor position. Generally this is appropriate, for example when composing a single paragraph. However, when reviewing or working on the layout of a document it is necessary to establish awareness of current text in the context of the document as a whole. This can be done by scrolling or zooming, but when doing so, focus is easily lost and hard to regain. Furthermore, in a collaborative editing/review setting it is not only necessary for each user to understand their own context, but also to have an awareness of the contexts of the other participants. Although systems have been developed that provide awareness in collaborative settings, they usually rely on multiple windows, which use valuable screen real-estate. We have developed a system called DeepDocument using a two-layered LCD display in which both focussed and document-wide views are presented simultaneously. The overview is shown on the rear display and the focussed view on the front, maintaining full screen size for each. The physical separation of the layers takes advantage of human depth perception capabilities to allow users to perceive the views independently without having to redirect their gaze. DeepDocument has been written as an extension to Microsoft Word™. It also includes awareness features to track focus positions for both single and multiple users.

Keywords: Multi-layered display, context awareness, collaborative awareness, CSCW, text editing, word processing, Deep Video™, Microsoft Word™

Working Papers Series, ISSN: 1170-487X


Department of Computer Science, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.

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