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RE: Find as you type for navigation

From: Bailey, Bruce <Bruce.Bailey@ed.gov>
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 07:26:53 -0400
Message-ID: <CCDBDCBFA650F74AA88830D4BACDBAB5130FA541@wdcrobe2m02.ed.gov>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Hello Jesper!

I like your site and very much appreciated your recent article on 404 messages.  I have also been following this discussion.

Below, you well articulate the interaction and expected behavior, but I must respectfully disagree with your characterization that this is how things *should* work.  The Windows behavior is quite reasonable and useable.  However, it is not the only reasonable and useable behavior, and I believe an assertion that said behavior is best is not indisputable.

Alternative algorithms, such as the find-as-you-type method used in OS X for menus, Spotlight, Safari, and numerous other places in the OS is very legitimate.  The OS X approach has a few advantages over the first-letter-only-repeat-as-necessary used on the Windows desktop.

1) One can confidently enter the accelerator keys.  There is no need to press a letter, pause and figure out if one has the right item selected, repeat.  As you argue, the OS X method is probably more typing most of the time, but it may well be faster much of the time in spite of the extra characters.

2) Both methods are about the same when exploring an unfamiliar territory, but the OS X method lets one skip through spurious results faster.  The Windows method requires one to cycle through an entire list, remembering the first item, before one can be confident all the candidate choices have been revealed.

3) The OS X method is consistent for all lists.  Windows uses the method you describe for navigating the desktop, but uses an algorithm similar to OS X for populating the type-ahead buffer with IE. 

4) Depending on the labels being search, the OS X method can be much faster.  An obvious situation is a list with many items starting with the same letter, but few with the same second letter.

As with many UI behaviors, it probably comes down to personal preference.  I regularly move between Windows and OS X and find-as-you-type on the latter feels faster, but perhaps it is just the OS keeping me busy?

Just my two bits on an esoteric subject.

Best regards,

-----Original Message-----
From:	w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org on behalf of Jesper Tverskov
Sent:	Fri 7/28/2006 4:00 AM
To:	w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject:	Re: Find as you type for navigation

Considering only the first character, or starting from the first character
of the link text, happens to be also the way we search file systems as in
Windows Explorer.

We type "k" to get to the first file beginning with "k", and we type "k"
again to get to the next match. If we type fast the characters are
recognized as being the second, third, et cetera, character of the filename.

This is how "Find as you Type" should also work for links in "links mode".

We want a feature where we need to think as little as possible, and to type
as few times as possible.

Starting from the first letter means that we get it right typing just one
character most of the time. And it is fast to continue to the next match,
and easy to spot where we land.

If any position of a character counts we must take a decision of what to
type and we must type at least two characters most of the time to get
anywhere and since link texts can be long, even broken into several lines,
it is much harder to find out where we have landed.

Best regards,

Jesper Tverskov
Received on Friday, 28 July 2006 11:27:34 UTC

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