ShowMeHow: Translating User Interface Instructions Between Similar Applications

Vidya Ramesh, Charlie Hsu, Maneesh Agrawala, Björn Hartmann


Many people learn how to use complex authoring applica- tions through tutorials. However, user interfaces for author- ing tools differ between versions, platforms, and competing products, limiting the utility of tutorials. Our goal is to make tutorials more useful by enabling users to repurpose tutorials between similar applications. We introduce UI translation interfaces which enable users to locate commands in one application using the interface language of another application. Our end-user tool, ShowMeHow, demonstrates two interaction techniques to accomplish translations: 1) direct manipulation of interface facades and 2) text search for commands using the vocabulary of another application. We discuss tools needed to construct the translation maps that en- able these techniques. An initial study (n=12) shows that users can locate unfamiliar commands twice as fast with interface facades. A second study shows that ShowMeHow enables users to work through tutorials written for one application in another application.

ShowMeHow helps users to translate instructions between applications that offer similar functionality, e.g., the image editing applications Photoshop and GIMP.

Research Paper

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ShowMeHow: Translating User Interface Instructions Between Similar Applications
UIST 2011, pp. 127-134.