Liquid view is designed to help an author think in order to produce a document, it is not a general purpose system for analysing information. In light that framing, it will be important to be very clear about the purpose of the system, as starts here. The purpose of the liquid view is to help the author better understand how the sections in their document, as indicated by headings, relate to each other and thus to organise the sections better and integrate information which appears to be missing.
It should be possible to interact with the liquid views in different ways for different reasons, depending on where the user is in the process:
Creation of Liquid View
The Liquid View should be embeddable in another .liquid (Author’s native document format) document and should also be createable from a user-specified subset of headings in a .liquid document.
The user should be able to create a new node/heading by double clicking on the screen and start typing. By default any new heading is shown as being level 1. The user can then drag the heading onto any current heading and the new heading will then slot in user the current heading (same level or one level below, depending on how the user drops it, a gesture we will have to study)/
Type heading on screen. Defaults level one. Appears at end of WP. Floating in liquid. Changes heading if snapped to different level. How to order as level one? Move to head then maybe be away. Cmd f searches on it.
• Choosing what Elements to show
• Choosing How Many Levels Deep to Reveal Headings
• Manual Layout in 2D and 3D
• Criteria Layout
– Using ‘magnets’ to pull Elements in specific directions
– Search to show only Elements with specific keywords or hide, as well as to show connections to such Elements
• Manual Connection view
• Criteria Based Connections view
• Connections visual change depending on criteria, such s amount of keywords linked, age etc.
• Navigation by moving the user’s view within the document, primarily horizontally and vertically as well as ‘zooming’
• Attracting Further Information in order for the author to best understand the information as well as
• Hiding Information away for use later – such as by putting Elements into the Cuttings area from the liquid view
• Quick find on screen through allowing the user to type in the first characters of a Heading and have the Heading(s) which include the search text to be highlighted.
• Create Heading/Node. Headings are usually created in the word processor view but should also be possible to add to the liquid view, either as sections under current headings or free-floating (where they will then be appended to the end of the word word processing view unless moved elsewhere).
Control mechanisms need to be present to allow the user to alter:
• Global view attributes, such as a toolbar.
• View attributes of specific link types.
• View attributes of specific headings. It needs to be possible to:
– Move section
– Choose how many levels to see: open/collapse. If collapsed, the Heading is underlined to indicate more under it.
– Show/Hide connections
– Indicate wether the section is Done (green dot/colour text maybe), In Progress, Paused or Empty (grey maybe, and auto-assigned?)
– More… To be determined during user consultations, as with all potential features
• Mouse over sections to see structure, in other words what other Headings are part of the same column
The user will be able to manually move elements around the screen and summon automatic layouts based on criteria:
• The basic layout unit scheme is a column, where headings show up as in the word processing view’s collapsed ‘Table of Contents’. The author can easily snap apart headings from columns and create new columns.
• Clusters of near or overlapping headings will show similarities and and those headings not near each other will imply distance in meaning through distance in layout.
• Relative positions of top/bottom and left/right can be used to show meaning.
The author should be able to save views (maybe in a tabbed format) and possibly to go back through a timeline.
How can the user best transition between the word processor view and the liquid view, in a way that feels natural and makes it feel like two different views of the same information is shown? Currently, logically, the view fights with the collapsed/Table of Contents view. How should the liquid view look on first entering it; the same as Outline?
• Toggle Outline view: Pinch in with two fingers to enter and and pinch out with two fingers to exit
• Toggle liquid view: Pinch out with three fingers maybe?
• Toggle flow view: pinch out with two fingers when in regular view and pinch in with two fingers to go back to regular view
The liquid view should be annotatable, just like the word processor view should be.
On publishing the .liquid document the author should be able to choose what liquid views related information should be included.
(note from my PhD work)
How To ‘Think’ This Section
This section connects ‘How scholarly tools inappropriately constrain thought’ with ‘How Author, Liquid Views and Liquid addresses the issues’. With so many dimensions, and adding auxiliary projects, it becomes quite unwieldy. I have therefore moved this into Scapple, to mock-up how this would be dealt with when we have a Liquid View. I built this view on a 27” iMac so the view may be quite tiny on a Macbook and likely unusable when printed out on anything smaller than A3/4.
Issues arising from this Liquid View Scapple Mockup Exercise
The first issue is one of size. This was created on a large display but the target user group uses significantly smaller screens. An issue then becomes how to best zoom in and out while also having a mechanism for deterring how deep or shallow in the hierarchy to reveal. Here the sub-headings under ‘View’ are visible:
The visual design will also need to be revised, with better magnetism for where the lines should spring from the headings/nodes and how the lines should be visualised. In this example only a sub-set of the headings in this document were turned into nodes so the user should be able to easily and elegantly choose what should be used. Furthermore the black notes on the sides of the view are not in this document so I need to design an interaction and system for handling such notes.