Menus and the Mouse

Imagine a piece of paper tape divided into brightly colored squares, with computer commands or selections written in the squares. Trim off any excess and glue the ends together to make it into a loop.

That's pretty much what an AUI menu is like, except that you don't see those computer commands and selections; you hear them — the color bars in the display screen pictured here are the visual display of the menu — the brightly colored squares.

As the mouse's scroll wheel spins or the mouse moves backward and forward on the table, the tape 'moves' under the mouse, and the bars rotate on the display.

Every time a new square is entered, the content of that square is spoken by the computer. Pressing and holding down the left button provides a more detailed explanation of the state of the activity. Double-clicking selects that cell for action (in the text menu, a triple click gets a capital letter).

Menus are composed of 'items' or cells, and the cells are almost always grouped into sections; there's always a section of commands to exit the current activity, set preferences, etc. There can be sections of numerals and operators in the Calculator; letters, numerals, and punctuation in the Text Editor, etc.

The mouse is a tremendously important part of AUI. It's the heart of the hardware, so it needs to be reliable, simple, and easy and comfortable to use. The computer is (can be) completely controlled, and all data entered, by nothing more than actions with the mouse, and it's used in a very different way from the way a GUI uses it — AUI is much more interested in mouse actions than it is in mouse location.