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OmniGraphSketcher and Direct Manipulation 2.0

University of Washington DUB colloquium
Seattle, WA
July 29, 2009

Abstract: Scientists, engineers, and educators commonly need to make graphs that quickly illustrate quantitative ideas yet are not based on specific data sets. I call these graphs quantitative concept diagrams (QCDs). To reduce the cost of creating QCDs, I developed software that deeply integrates the data plotting capabilities of charting programs with the direct manipulation techniques of illustration programs. I will demo the latest version of this software - OmniGraphSketcher - and show some of the ways customers are using it. I will then step back a bit to discuss how to use new interaction techniques to solve old problems, as illustrated by some of my favorite direct-manipulation interfaces from the Mac software world.

Bio: Robin Stewart is a software developer and user interface designer at The Omni Group, a Mac software company in Seattle. Robin started programming for Mac OS X during his first year at Williams College, when he discovered that there was no good software for making economics-style graphs. After doing research in artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and information retrieval, he decided all of that was boring compared to graph sketching, and wrote his MIT masters thesis on what had become a five-year "side project." He joined Omni last fall and the side project became their newest application, OmniGraphSketcher. The paper describing this software was a Best Note at CHI 2009.


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