Agentsheets: Applying Grid-Based Spatial Reasoning to Human-Computer Interaction

Alex Repenning, Wayne Citrin
Department of Computer Science and Institute of Cognitive Science
Department of Electrical Engineering
Campus Box 430
University of Colorado, Boulder CO 80309 303 492-1349, {ralex, citrin}


This paper argues that grid-based spatial reasoning can significantly improve human-computer interaction. While grids constrain the useršs ability to position objects on a screen on one hand, they greatly increase the transparency of functional relationships among these objects on the other hand. A system called Agentsheets employs a spatio-temporal metaphor of communicating agents sharing a structured space. This domain-independent metaphor can be used to create domain-oriented visual programming systems. This paper explains how Agentsheets fits into the spectrum of domain-orientation ranging from general purpose visual programming languages to domain-oriented construction kits, gives a short introduction of Agentsheets, sketches sample applications, and evaluates the contribution of grid-based spatial reasoning to human-computer interaction.


Agents, agentsheets, cellular automata, construction kits, spatial reasoning, spreadsheets, spatial metaphor, temporal metaphor, human-computer interaction, object-oriented programming, data-flow, iconic programming environments, visual programming, grids, building blocks.