Enhanced Visual Authoring Using Operation History

Sara L. Su
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D. Dissertation, May 2009


I successfully defended my Ph.D. thesis on April 8th, 2009 in a public seminar. (See the EECS and CSAIL event announcements.) I filed my dissertation with the EECS department on May 22, 2009, and will receive my degree on June 5, 2009.


Graphical editors have introduced great flexibility to the designer's workflow, providing powerful digital tools and enabling the creation of complex and compelling designs. This thesis presents methods for improving these interactions by leveraging operation history. Much instrumentation and activity logging in software has been for the purpose of debugging, that is, for the benefit of the programmer or analyst. Our work addresses the mining of operation history for the benefit of the end user. We present three main contributions in this area. First, we introduce selection expansion, a method for facilitating the reuse of complex multiple-item selections by identifying items that are likely to be edited together. We then discuss an extension of this work, soft grouping, which gives users more control than standard selection and more flexibility than standard grouping. Finally, we present an interactive visualization of operation history, interactive storyboards, which enables in-context browsing and manipulation of operation history. We demonstrate these approaches in the context of vector graphics editing and present the results of pilot studies using our software implementation. While this thesis focuses on the usage patterns of graphic designers, many of the strategies could be generalized to other domains.


Sara L. Su, Enhanced Visual Authoring Using Operation History. Ph.D. Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, May 2009.

Dissertation: PDF
Video: coming soon
Slides: PDF