Response to my post about pie menus was overwhelming! There were way too many comments for me to reply to each one individually, so instead I’ll respond to the general ideas in follow-up posts.

I’ve put up a new and improved pie menu demo that solves some of the usability problems with the previous version. Although, given the shape, perhaps “Grid Menu” might be a more descriptive name for this new style.

This version solves the following problems that people pointed out in the previous version:

  1. It’s difficult to lay out text in pie wedges: this version uses squares. It’s still the case that every item is just a short movement in a unique direction from the starting point, so the benefits of the circular menu are still preserved.
  2. The number of items can grow without bound, but usability suffers with more than eight choices: this version can handle hierachical sub-menus (and sub-sub-menus). Try mousing over the item in the bottom-right of the menu to see this in action.
  3. Some items are unreachable if the pie menu is invoked near the edge of the screen: this version pushes the menu grid inward from the edge so that all items stay visible.
  4. Many people aren’t used to holding the mouse button down while navigating the menu: this version respects click-move-click style interaction in addition to click-drag-release style interaction.

I’ve also added the names and icons of some actual Ubiquity commands, just to make the demo look more like what you might see in an upcoming version of Ubiquity — if we decide to include it.

Still a problem: if the original menu is invoked too close to the bottom-right of the area, there is sometimes not room for the sub-menu or sub-sub-menu. I’ll need to come up with a smarter positioning algorithm in order to deal with this problem.

You can try out new demo here.