JavaSketchIt: Issues in Sketching the Look of User Interfaces

Anabela Caetano, Neri Goulart, Manuel Fonseca, and Joaquim Jorge

We present a visual approach to layout static components of user interfaces as hand-drawn compositions of simple geometric shapes, based on sketch recognition. We have de- fined a visual grammar using drawing data from target users, where we tried to figure out how people sketch interfaces and what combinations of shapes are more commonly used to de- fine widgets. From these we built our grammar and implemented a prototype, JavaSketchIt, that allows creating user interfaces through hand-drawn geometric shapes, identified by a gesture recognizer. This prototype generates a Java interface, whose layout can be beautified using an a posteriori set of grammar rules (e.g. to align and group objects). To validate our approach, we conducted usability studies to compare our approach with a commercial system (JBuilder). Besides a measurable speed advantage in drawing interfaces, users found our system more comfortable, natural and intuitive to use, than the competing product, as demonstrated by post--experiment inquiries.

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