W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > wai-xtech@w3.org > December 2008

Re: Drag and drop and copy/paste

From: Richard Schwerdtfeger <schwer@us.ibm.com>
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2008 15:59:24 -0600
To: Colin Clark <colin.clark@utoronto.ca>, "Evans, Donald" <donald.evans@corp.aol.com>
Cc: Joseph Scheuhammer <clown@utoronto.ca>, oliver.keim@sap.com, stefan.schnabel@sap.com, wai-xtech@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFD9E0CC1D.B5ED8DAC-ON86257522.0078857C-86257522.0078CB30@us.ibm.com>

The fluid project is really quite impressive. Would you consider inviting
Colin to the style guide meeting and let him vet some ideas on keystrokes
for drag/drop?


Rich Schwerdtfeger
Distinguished Engineer, SWG Accessibility Architect/Strategist
blog: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/page/schwer

Colin Clark <colin.clark@utoronto.ca> wrote on 12/08/2008 03:14:20 PM:

> Colin Clark <colin.clark@utoronto.ca>
> 12/08/2008 03:14 PM
> To
> wai-xtech@w3.org
> cc
> Richard Schwerdtfeger/Austin/IBM@IBMUS, Joseph Scheuhammer
> <clown@utoronto.ca>, oliver.keim@sap.com, stefan.schnabel@sap.com
> Subject
> Drag and drop and copy/paste
> Hi all,
> I'm the technical lead for the Fluid Project, an open source community
> of interaction designers and UI developers who do a lot of DHTML
> accessibility work. I've been following the ongoing thread about
> keystrokes for doing drag and drop interactions with great interest.
> Over the past year or so, we've done a lot of user testing and
> research about drag and drop interactions. As we delved more deeply
> into the problem of keyboard navigation, one of the things that became
> clear was how much context matters when coming up with the appropriate
> keystrokes and interactions.
> Based on our testing experience, we found that it's risky to think
> about drag and drop as a homogenous use case. There are lots of
> different types of activities that are powered by drag and drop:
> * Sorting items in lists, grids, or layouts
> * Moving or copying items within a tree or folder hierarchy
> * Creating file shortcuts or aliases
> * Opening files within a specific application
> * Referencing external files, text, or other media within an application
> * And so on...
> Not all of these activities are appropriate for the familiar cut/copy/
> paste idiom. For example, prioritizing items in your "to do" list by
> sorting them in order of importance. You're not copying an element,
> you're simply moving its position relative to the others. Neither are
> you cutting an item from the list, since again, you're just changing
> position. Similarly, many of the other use cases listed above don't
> naturally correspond to the copy/paste metaphor.
Thanks Colin, the keyboard style guide group is still working on the key
strokes for this. You are not the
only one who has raised concerns over the copy/paste metaphor.

> Copy and paste are probably the two most familiar actions in all of
> computing. By overloading them with different actions and semantics,
> there's a real risk that you will detrimentally affect the consistency
> of your user interfaces and confuse users in the process.
> As far as I can tell, the goal of the Style Guide group is to come up
> with a "generic" set of keystrokes for all different flavours of drag
> and drop behaviour. Assuming this is the case, I'd recommend that you
> avoid overloading the copy/paste semantics by using Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V
> as keystrokes for drag and drop.
> On the other hand, a more fruitful approach might be to try to break
> up the problem into specific contexts, such as sorting, cut/copy/
> paste, shortcuts, and so on. Then it would be easier to come up with
> standards and best practices that are suited to the task at hand,
> along with shortcuts that match the user's expectations. In the end,
> this means you can design optimized keystrokes that will help the user
> accomplish their work faster.
> Our own Joseph Scheuhammer has articulated an excellent and in-depth
> rationale for this point. Aside from that, I'd be happy to lend a hand
> with exploring unique keystrokes for different use cases. I'm also
> happy to share advice and help from Fluid's interaction designers who
> have considered this issue in more depth than I have.
> I hope this helps,
> Colin
> ---
> Colin Clark
> Technical Lead, Fluid Project
> Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, University of Toronto
> http://fluidproject.org
Received on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 22:00:13 UTC

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