Subjunctive-interface demonstrations

A subjunctive interface is a style of interface for helping users to obtain and compare alternative results from simple input/output applications - that is, applications for which you specify some inputs, and the system provides corresponding results.

In general, exploring the various results available from such an application is a laborious trial-and-error activity: the user must specify a set of inputs, and examine the results, one by one. To help with such explorations, a subjunctive interface makes it possible to set up many alternative input values simultaneously and to see their respective results side by side. In many cases, what is especially helpful about this is the ease of making comparisons between alternative results.

The basic features of a subjunctive interface are that:

  • multiple scenarios (based on alternative input values) can be set up at the same time;
  • the results from those scenarios can be seen simultaneously;
  • the scenarios can be adjusted in parallel.

This page shows some demonstrations built using the RecipeSheet, a spreadsheet-inspired environment that has subjunctive-interface features built in.

A simple world clock

Though not calling for result exploration as such, in this application it is useful to see alternative results side by side. The demonstration also shows how the RecipeSheet supports variation in processing as well as in input-data values.

Exploring the HSV colour space

In general, subjunctive interfaces require input widgets and result displays that support not just a single value but multiple values - used to create multiple scenarios - simultaneously. This demonstration shows the behaviour of a specialised slider widget that has been developed for subjunctive-interface use.

Trying design alternatives

One kind of exploration is experimenting with features that make up the design of some artifact. Seeing many alternative design outcomes side by side can be helpful in evaluating which design will suit your needs best. This demonstration shows a simple example based on the formatting of a Web page.

Merging alternative search results

The results provided by a search engine are filtered and ranked using sophisticated, hidden algorithms. It can be useful to see what alternative results would have been ranked highest if the query were changed in subtle ways.

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Last updated: October 2010