Electronic Cocktail Napkin

Collaborator: Ellen Yi-Luen Do


1996 The Electronic Cocktail Napkin is an experimental computer-based environment for sketching and diagramming in conceptual design. The project’s goal is to develop a computational drawing environment to support conceptual designing in a way that leads smoothly from diagrams to more formal and structured representations of schematic design. With computational representations for conceptual designs, computer-supported editing, critiquing, analysis, and simulation can be employed earlier in the design process, where it can have a greater impact on outcomes. The software performs recognition and parsing of diagrams and management of spatial constraints, provides a pen-based drawing environment, and query-by-diagram schemes for retrieving information from visual databases.

1994 AVI: Hand drawn diagrams are essential tools for thinking and communicating in the early phases of design, yet computer based drawing tools support diagramming and sketching only poorly. Key components of computational support for early design include recognition, interpretation, and management of diagrams. The paper describes the motivation for, implementation of, and initial experience with the “computer as cocktail napkin” project, a design environment based on diagrams. It explains low level recognition of glyphs, construction of higher-level recognizers, and routines for managing diagrams in the cocktail napkin prototype.

1994 Fat Pencil: The paper describes recent explorations in sketch recognition and management to support architectural design. The exploration and decision making of early, conceptual design is better suited to freehand drawing, sketching, and diagramming than to the hard-line drawing and construction kit approaches of traditional CAD. However, current sketch programs that simulate paper and pencil fail to take advantage of symbolic manipulation and interactive editing offered by computational environments. The paper presents a computer as cocktail napkin program, which recognizes and interprets hand-drawn diagrams and provides a graphical search facility, simulated tracing paper, and a multi-user shared drawing surface. The cocktail napkin is the basis of Stretch-A-Sketch, a constraint-based draw program that maintains spatial relations initially specified by a diagram. The cocktail napkin program is also the basis for a query-by-diagram scheme to access a case-based design aid as well as a small collection of images of famous buildings. The paper briefly reviews these extensions of the cocktail napkin program.

2004 Diagramming and Drawing in Computer Aided Design – entry for the Encyclopedia of Human Computer Interaction, Berkshire Publishing Group.

2000 Drawing on the Back of an Envelope: a framework for interacting with application programs by freehand drawing, M.D. Gross and E. Do. in Computers and Graphics Journal 24(2000):835-849. [pdf]

1998 Sketchy (Informal) Interfaces for Design of Intelligent Systems, Gross, M.D., in Trends and Controversies, IEEE Intelligent Systems (formerly IEEE Expert) May, pp. 10-19. [pdf]

1997 Inferring Design Intentions from Sketches: an Investigation of Freehand Drawing Conventions in Design. Gross, MD and E. Do In Proceedings of the Second Conference on Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia, 217-227. CAADRIA. Hsintsu, Taiwan: National Chiao-Tung University, 1997.  [pdf]

1996 The Electronic Cocktail Napkin – A Computational Environment for working with diagrams, Gross, M.D., Design Studies 17(1), 53-70. [pdf]

1996 Demonstrating the Electronic Cocktail Napkin, Gross, M.D. and E. Do, Conference Companion, ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing (CHI ‘96), Vancouver, pp. 5-6. [pdf]

1994 The Fat Pencil, the Cocktail Napkin, and the Slide Library, Gross, M.D., Proc. Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA), 1994 National Conf., St Louis, pp. 103-113. [pdf]

1994 Recognizing and Interpreting Diagrams in Design, Gross, M.D., in T. Catarci. M. Costabile, S. Levialdi, G. Santucci eds., Advanced Visual Interfaces ’94, ACM Press, pp. 89-94. [pdf]