Adaptive grid-based document layout

ACM Transactions on Graphics (Proc. SIGGRAPH) , 22(3), 838–847

Published February 15, 2003

C. Jacobs, Wilmot Li, E. Schrier, D. Bargeron, David Salesin


Grid-based page designs are ubiquitous in commercially printed publications, such as newspapers and magazines. Yet, to date, no one has invented a good way to easily and automatically adapt such designs to arbitrarily-sized electronic displays. The difficulty of generalizing grid-based designs explains the generally inferior nature of on-screen layouts when compared to their printed counterparts, and is arguably one of the greatest remaining impediments to creating on-line reading experiences that rival those of ink on paper. In this work, we present a new approach to adaptive grid-based document layout, which attempts to bridge this gap. In our approach, an adaptive layout style is encoded as a set of grid-based templates that know how to adapt to a range of page sizes and other viewing conditions. These templates include various types of layout elements (such as text, figures, etc.) and define, through constraint-based relationships, just how these elements are to be laid out together as a function of both the properties of the content itself, such as a figure's size and aspect ratio, and the properties of the viewing conditions under which the content is being displayed. We describe an XML-based representation for our templates and content, which maintains a clean separation between the two. We also describe the various parts of our research prototype system: a layout engine for formatting the page; a paginator for determining a globally optimal allocation of content amongst the pages, as well as an optimal pairing of templates with content; and a graphical user interface for interactively creating adaptive templates. We also provide numerous examples demonstrating the capabilities of this prototype, including this paper, itself, which has been laid out with our system.

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