Graphstract: Minimal graphical help for computers

Jeff Huang, Michael B. Twidale

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


We explore the use of abstracted screenshots as part of a new help interface. Graphstract, an implementation of a graphical help system, extends the ideas of textually oriented Minimal Manuals to the use of screenshots, allowing multiple small graphical elements to be shown in a limited space. This allows a user to get an overview of a complex sequential task as a whole. The ideas have been developed by three iterations of prototyping and evaluation. A user study shows that Graphstract helps users perform tasks faster on some but not all tasks. Due to their graphical nature, it is possible to construct Graphstracts automatically from pre-recorded interactions. A second study shows that automated capture and replay is a low-cost method for authoring Graphstracts, and the resultant help is as understandable as manually constructed help.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2007
Event20th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, UIST 2007 - Newport, RI, United States
Duration: Oct 7 2007Oct 10 2007


Other20th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, UIST 2007
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNewport, RI


  • Graphical abstracts
  • Minimal manuals
  • Software help

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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