Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Computer program lets users learn keyboard shortcuts with minimal effort

30.09.2013
A computer scientist from Saarbrucken has developed a software which assists users in identifying and learning shortcuts so that they can become as fast as expert users. This new interface mechanism is easy to integrate in programs using a toolbar, a menu or ribbons as a graphical user interface.

If somebody wants to shift text elements within a Word document from one position to another, he usually uses the mouse. This procedure is rather cumbersome for the user, since he first needs to click and highlight the text element before he can put it at the appropriate place.

The user could avoid such complications by using a few shortcut keys, so-called hotkeys, instead. Certain hotkeys correspond to mouse clicks regarding the actions they perform. Nevertheless, users frequently do not know enough keyboard shortcuts to work with them efficiently, or are not aware of the available combinations.

Gilles Bailly, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and the Cluster of Excellence at Saarland University, wants to change that situation. By making the shortcuts readily accessible to everybody, he wants to increase the use of hotkeys among less-experienced users and help them maximize expert performance by using consistent shortcuts. To accomplish this, Bailly developed a special interface mechanism in collaboration with other researchers from several universities. It enables hotkey browsing, supports physical rehearsal and assures rapid hotkey identification.

“To see the hotkeys, the user needs to press a certain key button”, explains Sylvain Malacria from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He calls this special key the modifier. On an Apple keyboard, this function is taken by the command key; at a Windows computer, by the control key. As soon as the user has pressed the modifier, the software overlaps the icons on the screen, as for example all the symbols in a toolbar for a Word document, with shortcuts for a few seconds. Thus, the interface mechanisms shows small boxes in which every equivalent keyboard shortcut is displayed. In so doing, users who rarely use the computer are given the essential hints to apply the shortcuts until they know them by heart. The program supports them by proposing the hotkeys very quickly; they need only press the modifier key. To use the shortcuts more generally, the user frequently has to repeat the same finger moves. In this way, the user keeps remembering the key combinations. Professionals, on the other hand, can expand their shortcut knowledge and accelerate their working speed by using this mechanism, which the researchers named “ExposeHK”.

“If the user is in the middle of a workflow, he does not need to remove his hands from the keyboard and reach for the mouse. He is able to enter his commands into the computer directly”, says Bailly. To test their software, the researchers ran some studies. They asked participants to identify icons in toolbars and select them as fast as possible. To do that, the participants could either follow the instructions of a speaker, who was reading the key combinations to them, or they could use the mouse or the new software’s hotkey display. After that, the test participants had to choose which of the methods was easiest to manage. Most of the participants decided in favor of Bailly’s mechanism. The study results show that amateurs used the keyboard shortcuts four times more often after they had sampled them for a few minutes. “It’s no matter if the user forgot a shortcut. The only thing he has to do is to press the modifier again and the shortcut overview pops up”, Bailly explains.

He could observe how positively the user community responded to his software when he exhibited it at a prestigious Human-Computer Interaction research conference (ACM CHI) in Paris. “With our mechanism, we offer the user a simple and elegant solution to operate efficiently. And it is neither expensive to integrate nor to learn”, says Bailly. He is therefore confident that his mechanism will be available every conceivable application soon.

Background information on Saarbrücken’s Cluster of Excellence:

Since 2007, the Cluster of Excellence “Multimodal Computing and Interaction” at Saarland University has received major national and regional funding. Work at the MMCI Cluster includes research into strategies for organizing, understanding and searching multimodal information from audio files, photos, images, texts and videos. Researchers from Saarland University and the following institutes belong to the Cluster: the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, Max Planck Institute for Informatics, Max Planck Institute for Software Systems and Center for IT-Security, Privacy and Accountability (CISPA).

Further questions can be addressed to:

Gilles Bailly
Max-Planck-Institute for Informatics
Cluster of Excellence on “Multimodal Computing and Interaction”
E-Mail: gbailly@mpi-inf.mpg.de
Editor:
Gordon Bolduan
Science Communication
Cluster of Excellence on “Multimodal Computing and Interaction”
Phone: +49 681 30270741
E-Mail: bolduan@mmci.uni-saarland.de

Friederike Meyer zu Tittingdorf | idw
Further information:
http://www.gillesbailly.fr/hotkeys.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1fmKX3jKxI

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Ultra-precise chip-scale sensor detects unprecedentedly small changes at the nanoscale
18.01.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

nachricht Data analysis optimizes cyber-physical systems in telecommunications and building automation
18.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Algorithmen und Wissenschaftliches Rechnen SCAI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>