Future website for

Pick, Click, Flick!
The Story of Interaction Techniques

(tentative title)

A new book by:

Brad A. Myers
Human Computer Interaction Institute
School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3891 USA

Approximately 575 pages, with over 300 illustrations.

Copyright © 2022 - Brad A. Myers

IxtBook: "IxT" stands for "Interaction Technique" in the same way that "IxD" stands for "Interaction Design".

IxT Book Tentative Chapter List:

DRAFT Abstract

This book provides a comprehensive study of the many ways to interact with computers and computerized devices. An “interaction technique” starts when the user performs an action that causes an electronic device to respond, and includes the direct feedback from the device to the user. Examples include physical buttons and switches, on-screen menus and scrollbars operated by a mouse, touchscreen widgets and gestures such as flick-to-scroll, text entry on computers and touchscreens, consumer electronic controls such as remote controls, game controllers, input for virtual reality systems like waving a Nintendo Wii wand or your hands in front of a Microsoft Kinect, interactions with conversational agents such as Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Microsoft Cortana, and adaptations of all of these for people with disabilities. The book starts with a history of the invention and development of these techniques, discusses the various options used today, and continues on to the future with the latest research on interaction techniques such as presented at academic conferences. Sections also cover how to use, model, implement, and evaluate new interaction techniques. The goal of the book is to be useful for anyone interested in why we interact with electronic devices the way we do, and designers creating the interaction techniques of tomorrow who need to know the options and constraints and what has been tried, also for implementers and consumers who want to get the most out of their interaction techniques.

DRAFT Preface


This book provides a comprehensive study of the many ways to interact with computers and computerized devices. First, it defines and motivates “interaction technique”, and why they are important. Then, it provides a comprehensive but brief history of desktop and mobile interaction techniques and the important historical systems and interaction styles that hosted them. Part 2 looks in detail at the various kinds of interaction techniques, with each chapter focusing on a different one. The chapters explain the history and design variations, and considerations and constraints that drive the designs: pointing devices, scrolling, percent-done progress indicators, menus, text entry, forms and dialog boxes, graphical editing, window managers, 3D interactions, ubiquitous computing, gesture recognition, undo, help, assistive techniques, and AI techniques. Part 3 focuses on using, designing, and implementing interaction techniques, including more “meta” issues, about interaction techniques in general. Much of this part is focused on programmers who will need to write code to use interaction techniques, or to make new ones work. Interaction Designers and Graphic Designers, even if they are not programmers, might need to know some of the material in this part to help evaluate existing interaction techniques or design and evaluate new ones. Finally, Part 4 is based on interviews with the original inventors or designers of interaction techniques, based on guest lectures to my class.

All of the content of this book has been carefully researched, and full citations to original sources are included throughout. As mentioned in the Acknowledgements, in many cases, the information comes from the original people who worked on the interaction techniques.

Who is this book for:

For Historians of Technology: This book will provide value to anyone interested in the user interfaces (UIs) of computers and other technology. It was designed to capture the history of interaction techniques, which somewhat surprisingly has not been previously captured. For example, even though there are many articles about the early Smalltalk and Xerox Star systems and their many influences, I have not seen anywhere a detailed discussion of how their interaction techniques worked. The extensive citations to original sources can help those wanting even more detail than is provided here.

For Designers of User Interfaces: Virtually all user interfaces are made out of interaction techniques, so everyone designing or implementing a user interface of any kind will be using the interaction techniques discussed in this book. Also, since most UI design is creating or using interaction techniques, the topics discussed in this book are relevant to UIs in general, and not exclusively for interaction techniques. Part 3 provides guidance about how to use and implement UIs with interaction techniques.

For Inventors of New Interaction Techniques: New interaction techniques are being invented all the time, and this book motivates where and why new ones are needed. It presents the constraints and tradeoffs relevant to new designs in many different areas, and the industry-standard ways to evaluate the quality of the interaction techniques, so it can be done well. New techniques can have a high economic value, and this book also includes a discussion about legal issues around interaction techniques such as patents and copyrights.

For Lawyers working on Intellectual Property Cases About UIs: There are many patents and lawsuits about interaction techniques, and patent attorneys may benefit from understanding the history and details of the historical and current interaction techniques through time.

For Students and Faculty of UI Courses: This is a unique reference that brings together detailed discussions about designs and tradeoffs for UI elements. It may be the primary reference for classes about interaction techniques, or a supplementary reference for other classes where an understanding of their low-level designs and/or implementations would be useful. As mentioned below, full teaching materials on these topics are available.

For Users of Interaction Techniques (which is everyone using technology): Few people are aware of the details about how the interaction techniques on their technology works. Throughout the discussions of each interaction technique, this book provides lots of neat tricks that make interacting with devices faster, less error prone and more efficient. For example, many people do not know how to undo erroneous actions on an iPhone (by shaking it), how to abort an action while it is in progress on Microsoft Windows (by hitting the keyboard ESC key), or how to select a range or multiple individual items in a list (with Shift-Click or Control-Click). All of these and many more details are explained for each interaction technique.

Use in Classes:

This book comes out of my class on Interaction Techniques, which I have taught 4 times. The most recent class used this book as the primary reference for all the classes. The full curriculum for my class is available starting from: https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~bam/uicourse/05440inter/. Included there are the full curriculum, lecture slides and homeworks for each year. Others have used my material for their own courses, which is explicitly authorized (with attribution).

As stated in my course curriculum, after reading this book, students will be able to: