Proceedings: GI 2006

Faster cascading menu selections with enlarged activation areas

Andy Cockburn , Andrew Gin

Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2006: Québec, Québec, Canada, 7-9 June 2006, 65-71

DOI 10.20380/GI2006.09

  • Bibtex

    author = {Cockburn, Andy and Gin, Andrew},
    title = {Faster cascading menu selections with enlarged activation areas},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2006},
    series = {GI 2006},
    year = {2006},
    issn = {0713-5424},
    isbn = {1-56881-308-2},
    location = {Qu{\'e}bec, Qu{\'e}bec, Canada},
    pages = {65--71},
    numpages = {7},
    doi = {10.20380/GI2006.09},
    publisher = {Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society},
    address = {Toronto, Ontario, Canada},


Cascading menus are used in almost all graphical user interfaces. Most current cascade widgets implement an explicit delay between the cursor entering/leaving a parent cascade menu item and posting/unposting the associated menu. The delay allows users to make small steering errors while dragging across items, and it allows optimal diagonal paths from parent to cascade items. However, the delay slows the pace of interaction for users who wait for the delay to expire, and it demands jerky discrete movements for experts who wish to pre-empt the delay by clicking. This paper describes Enlarged activation area MenUs (EMUs), which have two features: first, they increase the area of the parent menu associated with each cascade; second, they eliminate the posting and unposting delay. An evaluation shows that EMUs allow cascade items to be selected up to 29% faster than traditional menus, without harming top-level item selection times. They also have a positive smoothing effect on menu selections, allowing continuous sweeping selections in contrast to discrete movements that are punctuated with clicks.