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Drag & Drop

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ocean
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Joined: 2003-06-19

Some DND thoughts...

Do people find themselves using the LINK drag operation? On the one hand, it seems particularly cruel to make the user press ctrl and shift at the same time but on the other hand I think it's important for the user to realize thata data isn't actually being copied, only a reference to the data. What are others experience?

Also, I find myself in a really tight bind because TransferHandler.importData doesn't expose the drag 'action' (COPY, MOVE, LINK) that the user actually performed when they committed. This seems kinda silly to me and I wonder how others get around this limitation without actually writing their own DropTarget for complex components like JTable, JTree, JList?

- ocean

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zander
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Joined: 2003-06-13

I really like the KDE concept on this; they figure that if the user did not specifically ask for an action the respons is to ask the user.

So if I move a lot of file-icons it asks me, on drop, what I want to do. Copy/Move/Link
This also opens the door for more advanced items like an extra menu entry "set as background" when dragging a picture to the desktop.

In other words; when you can't state a simple reason for what the user expects; ask the user.

Naturally its a shame that pressing ctrl does not alter the cursor while dragging.
Can't you ask for modifiers when you get the action event?

davetron5000
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Joined: 2003-06-10

There's also the notion that the user treats draggable items (e.g. file icons) as if they WERE the items in question. So, for using the desktop metaphor, dragging an icon representing a file from one location to the other should move it, because that's what would happen in the real world. This is almost how windows/mac does it. They do a copy when dragging between different partitions. I think if the partition is removable media, it should copy, but in all other cases, should ask the user if they wish to remove the copy from the old partition (or just do a move every time). Consistency and expected behavior.

I think that beyond something simple, drag-and-drop can be very confusing, especially when it is the only way to accomplish something. I've also noticed that excessive allowance for drag and drop leads more often to dragging/dropping than is desirable, like if you don't let off the mouse button quick enough, all of a sudden you are in drag and drop.

zander
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Joined: 2003-06-13

> There's also the notion that the user treats
> draggable items (e.g. file icons) as if they WERE the
> items in question. So, for using the desktop
> metaphor, dragging an icon representing a file from
> one location to the other should move it, because
> that's what would happen in the real world.

Nice idea; but user testing noted differently. I can't find the link right now; but the user testing done by Corel some years back when they had a big hand in KDE proved that this is simply not the case.
The user also has no idea why there should be a difference between dragging from floppy to HD and dragging between 2 dirs on the same partition.
In other words; target should not decide action.
So I repeat; when in doubt; ask the user.

> Consistency and expected behavior.
I fully agree to that!

> I think that beyond something simple, drag-and-drop
> can be very confusing, especially when it is the only
> way to accomplish something. I've also noticed that
> excessive allowance for drag and drop leads more
> often to dragging/dropping than is desirable, like if
> you don't let off the mouse button quick enough, all
> of a sudden you are in drag and drop.

Also very true. Every fun thing gets spoiled when over used.

davetron5000
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Joined: 2003-06-10

Yeah, I mean it can be confusing to do different things depending on the target, and I always would right-click-drag on Windows because Windows never did what I thought. It doesn't seem unreasonable to think that you would COPY to removable media, but MOVE everywhere else. I think the confusion arises because users don't know what a partition is.

It may be easier for Mac users to understand, since the desktop metaphor is done much more consistently than on Windows (i.e. removable disks show up on the desktop).

I haven't used KDE in a while. Does it ask you every time? That is highly annoying. I mean, the computer should just "do the right thing". I get really tired of the computer asking me things to which it should know the answer (or to which it should remember the answer when it asked me the first time)

Of course, most Windows users do all their file manipulation inside Microsoft Word.

Then, there is also the notion that the user should never have to manipulate files in this way. Look at the Palm. You never deal with files or their location. Granted it is much simpler type of apps than a Desktop, but you get the idea.