Katie Han Thesis Final.pdf


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the document on the page level, little work has been done to allow rearrangement or
manipulation of smaller sections of a page. Attempts to do so using the selection functionality of
existing PDF viewers introduce users to inevitable obstacles. For example, selecting a text
region requires clicking with a precise starting location; otherwise, it will not recognize the
gesture at all. A solution to this obstacle would be a software that intakes given input points and
generate a logical selection for the page from that data. In addition, information workers may
need to extract and organize the information in a separate application or medium. A standard
scenario I consider in depth is copy-and-pasting a selected portion of a PDF document into a
note-taking platform, such as Microsoft Word or OneNote, perhaps to create a summary of the
document. Without the aid of advanced and costly PDF editors, simply copying or extracting an
image from a PDF document is essentially impossible.
During this project, I started off by delving into the work done by cTed [1], a plug-in for Google
Chrome that originates from fellow researchers at Brown University. cTed focuses on enhancing
user interaction with the information presented on a web page by allowing natural selection
gestures for elements in the Document Object Model (DOM). I identified existing problems with
the current implementation and came up with solutions to amend those flaws.
Using the knowledge gained from studying cTed, I moved on to develop a similar tool for PDF
documents, another common source of information. I created a dynamic-link library (DLL) that
provides functionalities of intuitive content selections, building on an open-source software
library called MuPDF [2] to interact with the underlying structure of PDF documents. The
standalone library can easily be integrated into other software applications, such as NuSys. In
my project, the DLL is accompanied by SelectPDF, a Universal Windows Platform (UWP)
application for advanced PDF selection and extraction. To facilitate the process of migrating
information from SelectPDF to a separate platform such as a word processor, the program
immediately makes the selected content available in the clipboard of the OS and thus allows it
to be read by any outside application that supports importing via the clipboard. In this paper, I
present the challenges and outcomes of the process, along with the implementation details.

Motivation
NuSys
NuSys, a long-term project by the Graphics Group at Brown University, is a platform for
supporting individual and small group knowledge work. It is a collaboration tool for gathering,
exploring, organizing, and presenting multimedia information that focuses on the use of pen and
touch interaction. Users can create private or shared unbounded 2D workspaces for
synchronous or asynchronous collaboration.
Presently, users can upload various content to NuSys’s library manually, but there exists no
easy way for them to import web content to the system directly. In addition, viewing and
annotating PDF documents play a central role in document organization within NuSys. My
project primarily focuses on complementing NuSys’s features for these tasks. Both applications,