A Spatial Model for Nested Multiscale Interfaces

Chris Olston


Significant recent interest has been devoted to the multiscale interface as a paradigm for user-driven exploration of large or complex information worlds. Multiscale interfaces sometimes permit nesting of worlds, a notion that underpins a diverse variety of navigation aides and multiple-view tools such as visual hyperlinks, bookmarks, filters, magnifying glasses, overview and detail views, and coordinated views, all of which can be used to enhance the effectiveness of information exploration. These constructs often behave in accordance with underlying spatial relationships among nested views. Unfortunately, researchers and designers currently lack tools to help them describe and reason formally about spatial relationships tying together nested virtual worlds. The absence of appropriate formalisms is problematic because multiple spatial models are available and, even under a consistent model different nested constructs can exhibit different behaviors, many of which have complex and asymmetric properties. In this paper we describe a spatial model for nested multiscale interfaces that we constructed based on experience with a prototype data visualization system. We show how behaviors of nested components can be described succinctly in our model and provide a comprehensive taxonomy of 32 distinct behaviors. Finally, we make use of our spatial model to design techniques to help maintain user orientation during navigation between nested worlds by smoothly animating transitions between outer and inner views.

Technical Report: [PS], [PDF]

Online Demonstration Program: [Java]