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“The Cross-GUI Handbook” front cover
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Aaron Marcus, Nick Smilonich, Lynne Thompson
The Cross-GUI Handbook
For Multiplatform User Interface Design

Addison-Wesley, 1994
304 pages
ISBN: 0-2015-7592-2

This book was released in 1995 and its main purpose is being a comparison of the popular GUIs: Macintosh, OSF/Motif, NeXTSTEP, OS/2’s Presentation Manager and Microsoft Windows. It tries to do it on various levels: visual, methodological, terminological, giving away free design tips in the process. However, the book has aged rather badly – it won’t be of much use to contemporary UI designers, and is simply too ugly to put on a representative bookshelf.
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Back cover blurb

The following paragraphs are quoted verbatim from the back cover:

Interactive software applications often must operate on multiple computer platforms. These platforms today generally feature graphical user interfaces (GUIs) – interfaces that are similar in purpose on each platform, but that differ, sometimes obviously, occasionally subtly, in their details. The software developer must be aware of these similarities and differences to ensure the consistency of any given application from one platform to another.

This handbook is the first comprehensive source for comparative information about the principal GUIs currently available. With detailed comparisons of the features, capabilities, and strengths of these GUIs, the book is a practical reference for user interface design. In clearly presenting the terminology, appearance, interaction, and common behavior of each GUI, it condenses into a single convenient volume the details you need for your applications to operate with a consistent look and feel across multiple platforms. Other features include design guidelines for portability and migration, and recommendations for handling conflicting or incomplete style guides. The book also sets the foundation for designing an object-oriented user interface, incorporating new technologies such as multimedia and pen interface.

The GUI environments covered are:
Microsoft Windows and Windows NT
IBM OS/2 Presentation Manager
Apple Macintosh


1. Design Principles1
1.1. Human Factors4
Empower the User4
Reduce the User’s Information Load5
1.2. Presentation7
Create Aesthetic Appeal7
Use Meaningful and Recognizable Representations8
Maintain a Consistent Interface9
1.3. Interaction10
Use Direct Manipulation11
Provide Immediate Feedback12
Make the Interface Forgiving12
2. Desktop15
2.1. Desktop and Its Environment17
2.2. Desktop Metaphor19
2.3. Desktop Objects19
File Deletion Object20
Printer Object22
Desktop Accessories22
2.4. Desktop Managers24
2.5. Comparison of Desktop Environments25
Macintosh Desktop Environment25
OSF/Motif Desktop Environment26
NeXTSTEP Desktop Environment27
IBM CUA Workplace Shell28
Microsoft Windows Desktop Environment30
2.6. Icon Design31
2.7. Desktop Trends32
Object-Oriented User Interface32
Virtual Desktop36
New Look and Feel37
3. Windows39
3.1. Elements of a Window41
3.2. Window Controls44
3.3. Types of Windows49
Application Windows50
Document Windows51
Dialog Boxes51
Other Window Types52
Comparison of Window Types52
3.4. Window Hierarchy57
Primary Windows58
Secondary Windows58
3.5. Window Status59
Active and Inactive Windows59
Key Windows60
3.6. Window Behaviors61
Opening a Window61
Closing a Window61
Positioning a Window62
Moving a Window63
Changing the Size of a Window64
Maximizing a Window66
Minimizing a Window67
Splitting a Window68
Switching from Window to Window69
3.7. Window Arrangement70
Overlapping Windows70
Cascading Windows71
Tiling Windows72
4. Menus75
4.1. Menu Presentation77
4.2. Components of a Menu79
4.3. Types of Menus81
Pull-Down Menus81
Cascading Menus83
Pop-Up Menus84
Tear-Off Menus86
Additional Menu Types88
4.4. Types of Menu Items89
4.5. Desktop Menus89
Pop-Up Desktop Menus90
Desktop Control Menu91
Apple-Controlling Menus92
NeXTSTEP Application Dock92
Future Desktop Menu92
4.6. Application Menus93
Application Control Menu93
Standard Application Menus94
4.7. Object Menus99
5. Controls103
5.1. Check Box (Check Button)105
5.2. Close Control108
5.3. Combination Box (Combo Box)109
5.4. Command Button (Push Button)111
5.5. Container114
5.6. Drop-Down Combination Box115
5.7. Drop-Down List Box116
5.8. List Box (Selection List or Scrolling List)118
5.9. Maximize Button121
5.10. Minimize Button122
5.11. Multimedia Controls124
5.12. Notebook126
5.13. Radio Button (Option Button)126
5.14. Restore Button129
5.15. Scroll Bar130
6. Dialog Boxes145
6.1. Elements of a Dialog Box148
6.2. Dialog Box Controls150
6.3. Dialog Box Behaviors157
Modal versus Modeless157
Movable versus Fixed160
Resizable versus Nonsizable167
Unfolding Dialogs167
6.4. Common Dialog Boxes163
Message Dialog Boxes163
About <application-name> Dialog Boxes166
File Open Dialog Boxes168
Page Setup Dialog Boxes168
Print Dialog Boxes169
6.5. General Design Tips170
Selection of Dialog Box Types170
Placement of Dialog Boxes170
Size of Dialog Boxes177
Selection of Dialog Box Controls177
Organization of Dialog Box Controls172
Density of Dialog Boxes175
6.6. Dialog Box Trends176
Dialog Box Metaphors176
Multimedia Considerations177
7. Interaction and Feedback179
7.1. Interaction Model182
7.2. Interaction Devices and Their Operations185
Pointing Devices188
Pointers and Cursors195
7.3. Object-Action Model198
7.4. Object Types and Classes198
Text Data199
Field Data199
Graphic Data199
7.5. Manipulation Principles200
Direct Manipulation201
Indirect Manipulation202
Other Manipulation Techniques202
7.6. Selection202
Selection Types203
Selection Highlighting205
Selection Techniques205
7.7. Drag and Drop217
7.8. Activation218
7.9. Navigation (Transversal)220
7.10. Data Transfer221
7.11. Providing Feedback222
Visual Feedback223
Textual Feedback230
Auditory Feedback230
7.12. System Modes230
System-Busy Mode231
General-Control Mode231
Text-Editing Mode231
Appendix A: Comparison of Windowing System Component Terminology233
Desktop and Desktop Managers233
Window Elements234
Types of Windows237
Types of Menus237
Standard Application Menus238
Dialog Box Behavior239
Types of Message Dialog Boxes239
Mouse Operations240
Types of Selection240
Appendix B: Comparison of Windowing System Components – Graphical Representations243
Desktop Environments243
Window Elements245
Types of Message Dialog Box Icons248
Selected Bibliography259
About the Authors275

Page added on 6th June 2004.

Copyright © 2002-2006 Marcin Wichary, unless stated otherwise.