Zoom Functionality in a Bluescape Workspace

Using the Zoom Function in the Bluescape Workspace


Imagine that the workspace is a vast flat plane of virtual pixels. An image with native resolution 800x600, placed on our imaginary workspace at “original size,” occupies an area on the workspace that is exactly 800x600 workspace pixels.

The viewport is the area on your physical screen where you can see the workspace and its content.


Generally, the viewport shows a portion of the workspace - not the whole thing. Pan and Zoom (or Scroll In/Out) determine what portion of the workspace is visible and how big it looks on your screen. A mapping occurs from the workspace’s virtual pixels into the screen’s physical pixels. Here’s how it’s currently defined and connected to the Zoom percentages we show:

  • At 100% zoom - one workspace pixel = 1 screen pixel - so the image appears on-screen at 800x600 screen pixels.
  • At 25% zoom - four workspace-pixels = 1 screen pixel - so the same image appears on-screen at 1/4 size: 200x150 screen-pixels
  • At 400% zoom - one workspace-pixel = 4 screen pixels - so the same image appears on-screen at 4x size: 3200x2400 screen-pixels

Default Zoom

The idea of “default zoom” (at 25%) is that this should be a good size for seeing an overview of a typical working area. For example, “default zoom” is akin to going into a conference room and standing back from the whiteboard so you can see the whole thing - maybe a couple of arms lengths away or possibly across a small room. You can see images, diagrams, and sketches on the board; you can read things that you, the viewer, wrote in large font and see how it all fits together. You may be able to read some Notecards if you look closely and if the font is at an appropriate size.

When standing at this distance, you’re not going to see lots of detail - if there are images, there are some tiny elements inside those images that you cannot see well. There are going to be some objects you are unable to read. Elements like color and overall structure stand out more than paragraphs of text. Titles for viewing at this level must be clear and concise to be valuable. Drawing and sketches (like a marker on a whiteboard) to connect related objects effectively, highlight essential things (think circling an important topic or drawing stars next to it), and create large-grained content like diagrams, charts, and graphs.

Zooming In

When you zoom in to 100%, this is like standing up next to the whiteboard at an average writing distance. You can see individual items much more clearly. You can easily read what’s written on any Notecard. You see images at their full available resolution (if placed at “original size”) or at their intended size (if they were resized to something other than the original size by the workspace creator). 100% zoom facilitates focus work on one object or maybe on a small handful of related objects.

If you zoom in to 400%, this is like putting your face right next to the board. Imagine a photo tacked to the whiteboard - and you want to see some tiny detail inside the image. You can barely make it out at arms’ length (100%), so you get your eye right up next to it where you can get the best look that the available image data allows, which is 400%

Zooming Out

Bluescape also allows zooming out significantly. Imagine a giant convention center stage with lots of whiteboards on it; for example, when standing back in an audience - you can see all the objects on stage. Only very large objects are clearly visible. But colors, titles, and general structure stands out. In a real convention center - when the presenter started working on a specific board, you’d have to look at one of the video screens to see a closer picture of what’s going on there. But in Bluescape, you’d just zoom in to 25% (or so) on the specific board you want to see. (or maybe the presenter is leading and you’re following, so they do all the zooming, and you just sit back and watch).

We provide the ability to zoom “all the way” out - the minimum zoom limit is “Fit all content”. This allows you to easily see everything in the workspace. Currently, this function is only really useful for knowing where objects are, so you can zoom in on clusters of objects and see more detail about what’s there. It also provides a way to easily organize the workspace at a very high level. This zoom level becomes more like a “map of the territory”. For example, imagine going to a large convention that occupies multiple rooms (or even multiple buildings); zooming out is like seeing a map of all the different presentations and content at the convention - the map shows only high-level groupings and relevant title info. This is a way off though. For now, “Fit all content” is mostly useful to get “un-lost” if you happen to need it.

Display Resolution

The variation in the physical resolution of different displays is vast. Because our current system defines 100% as the zoom where 1 workspace pixel = 1 screen pixel - this means that, on a display with a pixel density of 92 dpi (eg. a 32-inch 2k monitor), that 800x600 image is about 8.7 inches wide at 100% zoom. But on a higher-density monitor (say a 27-inch 4k monitor at 132 dpi) that same image, at the same 100% zoom, is only 4.9 inches wide. The difference gets even more extreme on super-large displays (for example, wall screens), and further so on multi-panel walls.

This difference - monitors and various pixel densities - leads to a lot of confusion in our app right now. A person following can see something very different than a person leading, just because of this. And “default zoom” (25%) is more useful and intuitive on some screens than it is on other screens. We currently have no control over this - because the system does not detect or attempt to compensate for different pixel densities.

Currently, in the workspace, objects do not size in a way that makes them proportional to other things in the workspace.

For example, if you make a US-letter-sized PDF, and a 72pt font, in your PDF viewer of choice, the letters are about 1 inch tall at “actual size”. And you are able to fit about 8 or 9 lines on the 11-inch length of the US-letter-sized page (because single line spacing is about 1.3-times font height). Now, put this PDF into a workspace, and “resize to original”. Make a text field in the workspace next to it. Pick the same font, and size and put the same text into it. Now create a column of notecards next to it.

Compare the sizes of these things relative to each other:

If a Notecard is 3 inches square, and a whiteboard is 8 feet wide, then you should be able to put approximately 32 Notecards across the width of the board.

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