Path Selection

A Novel Interaction Technique for Mapping Applications

Michael Ludwig, Reid Priedhorsky, and Loren Terveen. 2009. Path selection: a novel interaction technique for mapping applications. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’09). Boston (April, 2009), 2309-2318. DOI: 10.1145/1518701.1519055


Many online mapping applications let users define routes, perhaps for sharing a favorite bicycle commuting route or rating several contiguous city blocks. At the UI level, defining a route amounts to selecting a fairly large number of objects – the individual segments of roads and trails that make up the route. We present a novel interaction technique for this task called path selection. We implemented the technique and evaluated it experimentally, finding that adding path selection to a state-of-the-art technique for selecting individual objects reduced route definition time by about a factor of 2, reduced errors, and  improved user satisfaction. Detailed analysis of the results showed path selection is most advantageous (a) for routes with long straight segments and (b) when objects that are optimal click targets also are visually attractive.