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3D User Interface Extension For Windows
posted by Editor on Friday October 26, @10:38AM
Visual User Interfaces 3DTop is an extension for Windows that represents desktop icons in 3D, letting you to fly around your desktop, change the shape of the icons, and rearrange them in 3D by dragging and dropping. You can also create coloured spotlights, background and floor textures, "paintings" (bitmaps), clocks, and "flags" that represent shortcuts. The implementation is almost completely non-intrusive - you run a single Win32 program called 3dtop.exe, which temporarily turns the Windows desktop into a 3D world. If you don't like it, you can simply terminate the program, so it's a great way to get a feel for how 3D UIs are supposed to work without a commitment (then you can join the debate about the effectiveness of 3D UIs with an informed opinion). The program can be downloaded free for a two-week evaluation period (a license costs $10). The manual is also kept online, and there are some nice screenshots.

Rendering Effective Route Maps | Breaking the Screen Barrier: A Thesis On Post-PC Interfaces  >


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    *pbffttt* hahahahahahah *snort* (Score:1)
    by misuba on Friday October 26, @11:43AM EST (#1)
    (User #118 Info)
    I particularly like this one as an example of how this thing grossly hinders usability. MMmmm, yeah, that's the best way my computer can help me find things. Yup.
    Not impressed (Score:1)
    by bartle on Friday October 26, @12:04PM EST (#2)
    (User #24 Info)

    I've been monitoring 3DTop's progress for the last few years. While I'm impressed that they continue to work on it, it seems like their program doesn't actually accomplishing anything. The key bit is that 3DTop doesn't actually make the windows 3D, they merely create some 3D background. I fail to see the point of having 3D in any part of the environment unless the whole environment is going to be 3D.

    In reference to the other link, "When to use 3D", I'd like to suggest that 3D has usefulness that extends beyond the situations they listed. Most of the time people think of rather vulgar 3D environments, ala the wierd Unix system in Jurassic Park. I suggest that 3D could be used successfully to augment an otherwise 2D interface. Microsoft already did this (sort of) when they made all their buttons appear to be 3D, or in maintaining a sort order of windows to provide the sensation that the windows are actually behind each other. I believe that many 3D techiques could be very useful if used in similiar ways, providing the user with 3D references that they could mentally key off of.

    They need to decide (Score:1)
    by usonian ( on Saturday October 27, @10:36AM EST (#3)
    (User #19 Info)
    Whether they want to play with spotlights, panning, tilting, and spinning crap or make a good interface for interacting with desktop objects in 3D. You don't need the full range of motion accorded by a Quake-style first person shooter to move around a 3D desktop... I think a much more effective way to do it would be to maintain the user's wallpaper, and allow forward, backward, side to side and up and down motion only in fixed distances controlled by key strokes (arrow keys for XY, A/Z for forward/back, maybe?) The scrolling could still be animated smoothly, but it would make it a heck of a lot easier to organize things in layers along a Z-axis. There's no need for pan, tilt, or lighting effects. That being said, I still don't think it would represent any great leaps forward in UI; if I've got so many icons on my desktop that I have to push some of the lesser used ones away into the background, they would probably be better off in a subdirectory anyway.
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