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  • Adam Behringer

    Seattle, Washington USA

    Adam is the founder of BEEDOCS, an artisan software company that makes great timeline software for Mac OS X.

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Bee Docs' Call Out - Design

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Last week, I announced plans to build document callout software designed for the Mac. Today, I'd like to give an overview of the design goals of the project.

The software I envision is pretty basic conceptually. There are only two steps from the users perspective:

  1. Open a page from a document
  2. Select a region of the page to emphasize.

Then the software should display the selected region in such a way that it is easy to read at a distance, and such that the original context of the callout is obvious.

Once of the things that I like about this project is that the concept is so simple that we can really focus on the details. For example, what is the very best way to open a document and select a page? What is the very best way to select a region of a document? What is the very best way to display a callout? I will discuss these issues in the blog as we ponder them.

There are two important goals of this project which will drive all our design decisions:

  • Ease of Use: The software needs to be so easy to use that a person can use it in real-time during a presentation or court case without training. Users will also be able to prepare presentations in advance.
  • Nice Looking: This is presentation software after all! Any graphics or effects should enhance the clarity of the presentation and should look beautiful without becoming a distraction to the presentation. I hope for something so beautiful that the results can be used in a documentary, but so clear and professional that it can be used to question a witness at trial.


Anonymous AnonymousJune 29, 2005 5:29 PM


have you thought about _not_ doing the "open document" bit, and just concentrate on the callout bit?

This would make it even simpler to design:

In OS X (in the utils folder) there is a little app called "DigitalColor Meter". This lets you move your mouse over any region on the screen, and then have that region magnified.

What I'm thinking of is an app very similar to this - only it works with any document. You simply open a document in, say, word - and then highlight some text in the document (in the normal) way and pres the special "Bee Docs" hotkey combination which launches your app. Bee Docs looks at what is selected, and then with a suitably nicely animated effect enlarges that portion of the document on screen.

There are a couple of technical difficulties here: How to read the "highlighted" area in any document (and perhaps this is not possible, and you would have to copy to clipboard first or something) - but this approach would mean that Bee Docs would essentially work with _any_ document type - from notepad, to word to .pdf to photoshop documents....

Your thoughts?

Blogger Adam BehringerJune 30, 2005 3:16 PM

This is an interesting idea. This is basically what the Mac does for a screen shot (Press Apple-Shift-4 then drag a box around an area of the screen). Except you are saying that it could produce a call-out rather than a screenshot, am I right?

I think that most people would prefer a dedicated application, but maybe this could be implemented as an extra. Thanks for the suggestion.

Blogger Esther MarieMay 25, 2007 5:27 AM

Adam, has the call-out software stopped being developed. Im currently getting frustrated with having to use a pc and trialdirector and found your thread in a google search.


Blogger Adam BehringerMay 25, 2007 10:07 AM


You are correct, I am not currently working on Call Out. All of my Bee Documents energy is focussed on the next version of Timeline right now.

I am still interested in doing Call Out at some point in the future. The new Core Animation features in Leopard could be well suited towards building great Call Out software.

Blogger Paul WigginsNovember 06, 2007 3:09 PM

Adam can you shed any insight on this thread about jargon ..... http://testycopyeditors.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=58577#58577 ....
which has a link to your blog entry

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