A method for expanding and contracting a window panel to uncover the panel's content to the user without resize other panels and without reformatting their content, is described. A user chooses a window panel by moving a pointer to that panel. If there is content in that panel not shown to the user, the panel expands to show the entire content. If expansion is not necessary initially, the system waits to see if any actions by the user require expansion. Upon expansion at any stage, portions of neighboring window panels are covered instead of the neighboring panels contracting and reformatting their content. Once the pointer is moved out of a window panel, the panel contracts to its default or original size and the expansion process occurs for a newly entered panel. Also described is the process of determining the maximum expansion size of a window panel and the "rolling out" and "rolling in" characteristic of the expansion and contraction process.
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1. In a computer system that includes a display monitor that is configured to display a window that has a plurality of window panels wherein each one of the plurality of window panels can temporarily overlap another one of the plurality of window panels, a method of changing a default size of a selected one of the plurality of window panels displayed in the window without causing any adjacent window panels to resize, the method comprising:
- detecting when a pointer has been quiescent within a selected window panel for at least a threshold time period;
- determining whether the selected window panel is in condition to be expanded;
- enlarging the selected window panel thereby creating a temporarily expanded window panel when it is determined that the pointer has been quiescent within the selected window panel for at least the threshold time period and it is determined that the selected window panel is in condition to be expanded, such that when the selected window panel is temporarily enlarged, adjacent window panels are not contracted thereby causing a temporary overlap of one or more of the adjacent window panels by the selected window panel; and
- contracting the selected window panel to a default size.
2. A method as recited in claim 1 wherein the threshold time period is in the range of approximately 0.1 to 1 seconds.
3. A method as recited in claim 2 wherein the threshold time period is in the range of approximately 0.2 to 0.5 seconds.
4. A method as recited in claim 1 wherein the step of determining whether the window panel is in condition to be expanded is based at least in part on a determination of whether the selected window panel contains hidden content.
5. A method as recited in claim 4 wherein the step of determining whether said window panel is in condition to be expanded is further based on a determination of whether a user action has caused the selected window panel to contain content that would be hidden at a current window size.
6. A method as recited in claim 1 wherein the step of enlarging the selected window panel further includes the steps of
- determining a desired expansion size;
- determining a maximum permissible expansion size of the selected window panel; and
- wherein the selected window panel is enlarged to an expanded window panel determined by the smaller of the desired expansion size and the maximum permissible expansion size.
7. A method as recited in claim 1 wherein the step of enlarging the selected window panel further includes redrawing a panel frame that defines a boundary of the selected window panel to a position corresponding to the expanded window panel.
8. A method as recited in claim 1 further comprising the steps of:
- determining whether any content in the selected window panel is to be repositioned during expansion; and
- redrawing the content of the selected window panel at a new position.
9. A method as recited in claim 1 wherein the step of contracting the selected window panel further comprises the steps of:
- detecting when the pointer has been moved out of the selected window panel; and
- redrawing the panel frame to the default size.
10. A method as recited in claim 1 further comprising the steps of:
- determining whether the content of the selected window panel is to be repositioned during contraction; and
- redrawing the content of the selected window panel to a new position.