Graphic design for a collaborative workstation: columns for commenting and annotation
One challenge for graphic designers is to provide visual structures that efficiently organize what is seen on the computer screen when many users work on the same display. This paper reports work on such a project.
The visual interface we describe is a part of the Prep Editor, an experimental environment for collaborative writing. We show how a graphic interface with a simple organizing structure can help collaboration by reducing screen clutter and focusing end-user tasks efficiently. The Prep Editor uses the metaphor of a column to support a variety of collaborative tasks. We believe that a columnar visual structure provides a comprehensible interaction mechanism to support collaborations in general, beyond the limited intent of this project.
Graphic design for the Prep Editor is influenced by methods of page layout that have supported collaborations in the past, seen in a type of medieval manuscript known as a glossed bible. Glosses promoted orderly access to complex information and provided tools for scholars to organize, annotate, and cross-refer between different kinds of information, working alone or in concert with others.