|Don's NeWS Pie Menu|
Why am I writing this thirty years later? Follow me below the fold.
|Don's CHI88 demo|
Today (May 15, 2018) is the 30 year anniversary of CHI’88 (May 15–19, 1988), where Jack Callahan, Ben Shneiderman, Mark Weiser and I (Don Hopkins) presented our paper “An Empirical Comparison of Pie vs. Linear Menus”. We found pie menus to be about 15% faster and with a significantly lower error rate than linear menus!This should not have been a surprising result. As Don writes, it is a consequence of Fitts' Law:
the bigger and nearer by the target, the faster and more accurately you can hit it. Pie menus maximize the target size, and minimize the target distance!
But I can't resist this snippet. Don recalls that:
Jobs' expertise in the design of menus can be illustrated by the following story, which I hope I recall correctly. The then (and still) canonical way sub-menus work is that they pop up with their top aligned with their parent menu item, so that the most frequent choice at the top of the sub-menu is closest. But Jobs thought that this looked messy, so on the NeXT they popped up with their top aligned with the top of the parent menu. Everyone else at NeXT knew this was bogus, so one time when Jobs was on the road they fixed the menus to work right. When he got back he went ballistic and made them unfix the menus.On October 25, 1988, I gave Steve Jobs a demo of pie menus, NeWS, UniPress Emacs and HyperTIES at the Educom conference in Washington DC. His reaction was to jump up and down, point at the screen, and yell “That sucks! That sucks! Wow, that’s neat! That sucks!”I tried explaining how we’d performed an experiment proving pie menus were faster than linear menus, but he insisted the linear menus in NeXT Step were the best possible menus ever.