Working with WPF for more than a few months starts to change the way you think about UI. I’m sure you have experienced it yourself. It influences little things;
- Why should listbox be filled with a list of strings? Couldn’t I put put a picture or video in the listbox?
- Do treeviews have to be indented the way they are? What if I want a tree to look more like an org chart or spiderweb?
I find myself thinking about bigger UI challenges too. What is the best way to layout the entire application? Can I use 3D in a way that enhances the UI or will it make the UI look silly. Which brings me to the topic of this post.
BumpTop is a experimental 3D version of your desktop that uses real world metaphors like stacks and piles to show your documents. It has an extensive physics systems and works with pen input devices. It is built using OpenGL but a comparable interface could be probably be created with WPF.
Show me the video.
Read more at BumpTop.com.
What others are saying
Indeed, the Bumptop interface–the brainchild of Anand Agarawala, a graduate student in computer science at the University of Toronto–looks more like the set for a computerized air-hockey game than like a traditional workspace. It uses lighting, shading, and animation techniques directly borrowed from the world of video-game development, along with a so-called physics engine that makes the icons move as if they were subject to real gravity, momentum, and friction.
It’s all possible thanks to the growing graphics-processing power of today’s PCs. And while it may sound like overkill, Agarawala believes it’s worth a few extra CPU cycles to add realistic spatial cues to the static, 2-D graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that have been a mainstay of personal computing since the debut of the Apple Macintosh in 1984. “The ‘PC desktop’ was supposed to be a metaphor for managing our files,” says Agarawala. “But my real desk looks nothing like my desktop. I have all these piles subtly arranged on top of each other in a way that may look chaotic to someone else but is personally meaningful to me. The idea was, How can we bring that feeling onto the desktop?”
From the NY Times
A Canadian programmer named Anand Agarawala presented a new computer-desktop filing system that was, to say the least, novel. The audience spent quite a bit of time giggling, ooh-ing and ahh-ing.
The status quo, Anand pointed out, is a desktop filled with icons. “You can sex it up with a ‘lickable’ interface like the Mac’s, but basically it’s the same old thing: Point and click, icons.”
In his revised version, icons behave a lot more like actual sheets and bundles of paper. As you drag them around the screen, they tumble and pile up. They collide with other icons, tumbling and shoving them pell-mell out of the way.
You can drag a dotted line around a group of icons to stack them into piles, which you can then click through, flip through, or spread out like a deck of cards. You can then add another icon to a pile by tossing it with your mouse, and grinning as it flies to the top of the pile as though you have perfect aim.
You can make an especially important icon bigger by dragging it; once it’s bigger, it’s also heavier, so that it pushes other icons out of the way. You can even crease and fold icons, as though to dogear them. You can even crumple icons up and toss them into a corner of the screen.