sliding window multi-page mode
Submitted by dje..@..rd.edu
I would like to request a multi-page viewing mode which is implemented as a horizontal sliding window. This would allow viewing multiple pages without having to "flip" a page, thus obscuring the previous page's content.
For want of a better explanation, here are some crude illustrations.
Here's the current dual page mode, which acts like you're flipping pages in a book:
1 2 3 4 5 6
The problem with this, is that if something on page 4 references page 5, I have to flip to the [5 6] view, and lose my spot on page 4. I typically read technical papers which refer to figures and tables on neighboring pages, and this gets very annoying.
An alternative way of displaying dual (or more) pages is to implement a horizontal window of a given number of pages, and scroll the pages through that window.
[1 2] 3 4 5 1 [2 3] 4 5 1 2 [3 4] 5
This allows one to move forwards or backwards without losing context.
Most document readers mimic turning pages in a book or magazine. But that's not always the most comfortable means of reading, especially if you have to consult material on neighboring pages. Let's say you are reading a "left hand" page, and there is a passage which refers to a complicated chart on the previous page, which is a "right hand" page. You have to refer to the chart multiple times as you read the passage, and that requires you to flip the page back and forth, back and forth. That really breaks up ones concentration. If the document is a novel or an essay, you usually don't have this problem, but technical documents often require short jumps of a page in either direction.
There's an actual real-world device which simulates this: a microfilm reader. Imagine reading the document using a reader which can view more than one page at a time. If the text references something a page away, you can always scroll the film so that the both the referring and referred to pages are in view.
In the physical world I sometimes duplicate this by printing a document single sided, which means I never have to flip pages. If I need to refer to a previous page, it is always available directly to the left of the page I am reading. When I look at a new page, I remove the leftmost page, slide over the rightmost page, and introduce the new page. If I clean my desk off, I can have three pages side by side, which allows references to +/- one page.
I realize that this isn't the traditional way of doing things, but it can be a much less intrusive means of navigating the document. After all, two-sided pages are required only of real paper -- there's no need to carry over the disadvantages of that medium into the virtual world; the less a computer gets in the way of doing ones work, the better.