Personal Object Space
A physical desk, especially a messy one
Public bulletin board (again, a physical one)
Iconified applications in some windowing systems and OSes
Context: There are many things that the user needs
ready access to, such as working surfaces, documents, objects, or tools.
This is often useful in Sovereign Posture
applications, especially those that are WYSIWYG
Editors or integrated development environments; also, Pile
of Working Surfaces is really a specialized example of this pattern.
The Windows 95 task bar, which also contains iconified applications
Problem: How should the items in question be organized?
Solution: Allow users to place things where they
want, at least in one dimension but preferably in two. Start
out with a reasonable default layout, however. Permit stacking, moving,
grouping, aligning, "neatness" adjustments, sorting, and other layout operations.
Do not capriciously rearrange the user's space -- only do automatic layout
if the user specifically requests it!
The user should be able to arrange things in a way that works best for
them, since they know more about how they work than the artifact's designer
If the user arranges a large set of items, they can better remember where
things are than if the items were arranged for them.
The user wants a sense of ownership and control over the artifact, and
substantial customization contributes to that sense.
It's tedious for the user to do all the item placement themselves, especially
if they want precision or a sorting order.
Resulting Context: The artifact should maintain
the user's layout between uses, so Remembered
State is a natural next step; User
Preferences and User's Annotations,
other customization patterns, go hand-in-hand with this one. Good
Defaults lets you design the initial layout well. Actions
for Multiple Objects give the user greater efficiency as they manipulate
items within the Personal Object Space.
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified May 17, 1999
Copyright (c) 1999 by Jenifer Tidwell. All rights reserved.