Fine Tuning Web Sketchpad’s Construction Interface

When the Web Sketchpad team created the interface for tools, there were lots of design decisions to be made. We made the best choices we could at the time, but after months of daily use, it became clear that at least one aspect of tool functionality needed some rethinking.

In the original design of tools (which you can still try here), tapping on a tool like a segment produced a preview image of the segment, with two glowing endpoints. To position the segment in the sketch, the user dragged each endpoint to its desired location. This method seemed sensible at at the time, but we gradually questioned our choice when even the simple task of constructing a triangle began to feel burdensome.

In our new tool design, it’s still possible to drag points to where you’d like them to go, but now there is an easier way as well. Tap the Segment tool icon in the websketch below, and then tap twice in the sketch to place the two endpoints wherever you want. Use the Segment tool twice more to construct a triangle with just a few taps of your finger or mouse.

Try all three of the tools in this websketch to get a feel for how this interface works. I’ve also included a video that demonstrates how the new interface works. Let us know what you think!

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