Circle Menus

by Greg Bronevetsky
(greatest thing since sliced bread and only half the fat!)

 What is a Circle Menu?

The User Trials!
Well, finally we'll see who's better, circle menus or pull-down menus.
The Circle Menu User Trials are finally in public release over the Internet. Anybody can participate! I'll also put up a page with upto date stats on how the trials are going and what type of menus are winning. Stay tuned!
Pie Shape
Heart Shape
The circle is divided into pie slices, one slice for each menu option. When the mouse is in a given option's slice, the option follows the mouse, while the other options stay still. When the mouse leaves an option's slice and moves into another option's slice, the former option returns to its original position around the circle while the later option proceeds to follow the mouse.
The menu options are arranged in a heart shape, with central wedge pointing in the direction of the mouse and the center of the menu placed at the tip of the wedge.

The menu options are arranged in a circle that moves in response to the mouse's motions. In order to bring to the mouse the options towards which it is pointing, the circle moves in the opposite direction from which the mouse moves.
Ellipse Expanding Circle
The menu is arranged as an ellipse, with the menu's center placed at one of the ellipse's focal points. The near side of the ellipse is in the direction of the pointer while the far side of the ellipse is away from the pointer.

This is similar to a normal Circle, except that here the circle expands as it moves away from the mouse. The result it that the mouse-ward side of the circle doesn't move and the menu options on the opposite side of the circle move away more dramatically.
Visible Slices
In order to make it more obvious to the user in which directions the menu options lie, when he or she moves the mouse into a menu option's slice of the circle, that slice identifies itself by lighting up.

Circle Menus, The Nitty Gritty Present.

I know you want a DEMO!
Yes, of course there's a demo. What'd you think, I was just going to talk your ear off without showing you something? Well, go and enjoy yourself. Its a Java applet so you'll be able to use it inside the browser.

Try it out!

User Trials Free Source Code
I know it supposed to be immoral to experiment on humans but how else am I supposed to test my Circle Menus out? The user trials are available over the Internet for everybody to participate in. When we get in enough data I'll publish the results and we'll all see if Circle Menus are really worth it. Meanwhile stay tuned for live stats about how the trials are going. Yes, I'm giving the source code to my Circle Menu demo away. You are free to read, distribute and modify it, because the whole idea is to help you create circular menus of your own.
So, once I clean and better document my code, I'll make it publically available to anyone. All I ask is to be referenced and that you keep your code free.

Circle Menus, In The Future!

Electro-Magnetic Force
Various Shape Ideas
Rolling Sphere
Think of the menu options as charges pushing each other away, only the force is not transmitted directly between them but around the circle. Now think of the mouse as a large charge pushing all options but the nearest away from itself.
My ideas about various shapes and interactions that are still speculative or that I'd like to use but haven't come up with actual mechanisms for. I invite anybody to email me with ideas and I'll put them up here.
The entire circle menu is placed on the surface of a sphere and the sphere is rotated in response to the mouse's movements.
What about COLOR? Menus for the blind?
Maybe we can color all of our menu options some dark color at the beginning and have the options that the mouse is closest to become brighter in proportion to the proximity. Maybe the colors could change along sort of color gradient. Why not? Yes, normal graphical menus have been completely off-limits to the blind. However Circle Menus show some promise of being used effectively by the blind.

License & Rights

I wouldn't mind an email or two.