Touchscreen Interfaces for Visual Languages


Michael M. Hackett
Philip T. Cox

Author Addresses: 

Faculty of Computer Science
Dalhousie University
6050 University Ave.
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
B3H 4R2



Touchscreen tablets are all the rage at the moment; they are inexpensive, highly portable, and frequently house more processing power than the laptops of even a year or two past. They are proving to be wonderful devices for digesting content, but can they be used for “real work”? The lack of a physical keyboard may make them poorly suited for working with text, but the touchscreen removes a layer of indirection introduced by the mouse and allows for a more direct relationship—literally “hands on”—with the objects on the screen. Through the construction of a simple mock visual programming language (VPL) editor, this study compares two different styles of touchscreen interface and demonstrates the natural fit between touch input and visual programming. The addition of “multi- touch” also opens up intriguing possibilities for two-handed, immersive interfaces, with the potential for greater efficiencies than possible.

Tech Report Number: 
Report Date: 
July 29, 2011
PDF icon CS-2011-05.pdf11.58 MB