How to Choose with Pie Menus
English 393
Assignment #1
Instructions for Performing a Process
Don Hopkins
March 10, 1988

Q: What is the process?
A: The process is selecting from pie menus.

Q: Whis is the audience?
A: The audience is users of the pie menu software for the NeWS window system.

Q: Where would the document be found?
A: It would be part of the documentation that goes along with the software.


Selecting commands from menus is an easy, straightforward way to operate a computer. You can use a pointing device called a "mouse" to indicate the selection you desire, from a list of choices show on the screen. Pie menus (Figure 1) differ from traditional "linear" menus (Figure 2) in the way that their choices are laid out, and the shape of their selection target areas on the screen.

These instructions will describe how to select a choice from a pie menu, cancel a menu without making a selection, and make selections quickly and efficiently.

Buzz words

Refer to the figures for illustrations of the definitions.

Cursor: The "cursor" is a small symbol superimposed on the computer's display, which points to some spot on the screen. Its shape may change according to where it is pointing. It is the focus of your attention.

Mouse (Figure 3): The "mouse" is a hand-held pointing device, used to move the "cursor" around on the screen. Moving the mouse around on the "mouse pad" produces corresponding "cursor" motion. It has three "buttons", which are used to select and manipulate things.

Mouse pad (Figure 3): A mouse pad is a flat surface that the mouse rests on. The mouse can sense how it's moved around on the pad.

Buttons (Figure 3): The three buttons of the mouse are referred to as the "Left", "Middle", and "Right" buttons. They are used for "clicking" at things on the screen. Each button can have different meanings at different times.

Click: To "click" a button, quickly press and release it, without moving the mouse.

Pie menu (Figure 4): A round menu, initially centered on the cursor, having each of its choices in a different direction. Each wedge shaped "slice" of the menu selects one of the choices. The slices are labeled with the names of the menu selections. There is an "inactive region" in the menu center, which makes no selection.

Inactive region (Figure 4): A small round area in the center of the menu where the cursor starts out, that makes no selection.

Slice (Figure 4): Wedge shaped areas on the screen, centered around the inactive region. They are labeled with the names of the menu choices.

Selection target area (Figure 4): The wedge shaped region of a slice, whose area on the screen actually extends out beyond the menu radius, to the screen edge. To indicate a slice, move the cursor into its selection target region. To choose it, click the Right mouse button there.