The WebTop - HotJava Views and Beyond

Don Gentner, Human Interface Designer, JavaSoft, Sun Microsystems

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University October 17, 1997


The WebTop is a new model for accessing and distributing both personal and shared information. Instead of tying the information and user to a physical computer, we can take advantage of the Internet, Web protocols, and Java-based applications to let users access information on the Web from a variety of devices, anywhere that they can connect to the Internet. The implementation of this model is just beginning, with the emergence of Network Computers and Java-enabled Web browsers and operating systems.

I will start in the present, describing the design of HotJava Views, an WebTop environment and suite of applications for a Network Computer. In HotJava Views, we have abandoned some of the characteristic features of current GUI interfaces, such as the desktop metaphor, file systems, and the distinction between applications and documents. Our design principles are focused on simplicity, efficiency of operation, clarity of the interaction model, and tight integration between applications. Then I will look into the future and discuss how this approach could be expanded to provide the full WebTop vision of access from any device, anywhere.  


 Don Gentner has designed innovative human-computer interfaces at Philips Labs, Apple Computer, and Sun Microsystems. He is currently a senior staff engineer in the JavaSoft division of Sun Microsystems, where he is a human interface designer for HotJava Views. Don has written numerous papers, most recently focusing on new directions in human-computer interfaces.


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