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Pie Menus | Don Hopkins

Pie Menus

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What are Pie Menus?

Pie menus are a naturally efficient user interface technique: directional selection of pie slice shaped targets. The cursor starts out in the center of the pie, so all targets are large, nearby, and in different directions. Fitts' Law explains the advantages of pie menus, relating their fast selection speed and low error rate to their large target size and small distance. Pie menus are easy for novice users, who just follow the directions, and efficient for experienced users, who can quickly "mouse ahead" once they know the way.

Why Pie Menus?

Question: Why Pie Menus?

Answers:

  • Pie Menus are much faster and more reliable than linear menus, because all of the items have large wedge shaped target areas, and each one is located adjacent to the cursor, but in a different direction.
  • Several free pie menu implementations are available as open source, reusable, customizable components, that synergistically leverage the capabilities of XML, DHTML, JavaScript, ActiveX, Internet Explorer, Firefox, SVG, Flash and Laszlo.
  • Pie Menus can be specified in XML, so designers can easily understand and create them in a text editor, as well as automatically generating pie menus on the "SOA" web server or "AJAX" browser client, using XML processing tools like XSL.
  • Pie menus are easy to configure and customize in many ways, with default attributes that can be easily overridden and specified for a whole menu or any individual item.

Pie Menu Stuff

This is stuff about Pie Menus. Pie menus are a naturally efficient user-interface technique -- directional selection of pie slice-shaped targets. The cursor starts out in the inactive center region of a pie, and all target slices are large, nearby, and in different directions.

Pie menus are quite easy for new users. You simple follow the pop-up directions to use them. They are also extremely efficient for experienced users. Once you know the directions, you can quickly and reliably 'mouse ahead' without looking.

Fitts' Law explains the pie menu advantage -- their fast selection speed and low error rate is due to their large target size and the small distance between each item.

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