Re: [wmii] snap: 20060323 -- mouse support

From: John Nowak <>
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2006 12:03:10 -0500

On Mar 23, 2006, at 9:43 AM, Anselm R. Garbe wrote:

> It is ideal to have only a single way for each feature and not
> plenty ways.

I think this is an overgeneralization. I generally think that
*conceptually* there should be a single method, but I have no issues
with multiple convenient methods of accessing that concept.

> For example the WIMPish environments have menu
> entries, shortcuts and toolbars connected to the same function
> often. This is annoying, because it forces the user to choose
> between several usage paths (and often users aren't able to
> fixate their usage patterns because of this choice of usage
> paths).

I've been a Mac user for life, so I may be biased, but I take issue
with this. Generally on the Mac, there are two or three ways to do
something. Way one is selecting an item from the menu bar. Way two is
to use a key command which activates a menu bar item. Way three,
which is not always there, is clicking some sort of toolbar button.
(I'm ignoring contextual menu items for now, which I have mixed
feelings about.)

The menu bar method is useful because it allows you to hunt for
commands -- On Mac software, EVERY ACTION is supposed to be in the
menu bar, and hence it serves as a form of documentation. Using the
menu bar also teaches you key commands. Key commands are useful as
they are very fast, but they'd not be so useful without the menu bar
around to teach you the shortcuts. The menu bar and key command
combination is near-perfect I feel due to fact that it lets you fall
back to a slower method when you don't know the faster one, and the
slower method teaches you how to use the faster one.

The toolbar is useful for not having to switch to the keyboard. I
turn the toolbar off in most applications, but in my browser I leave
a minimal set of buttons visible. I don't like having to switch to
the keyboard juts to go back a page sometimes. Often this is just due
to laziness as I have to pull my hand out of my lap to hold the
correct modifier key, but still, I find it easier to use the mouse
and so I should be able to.

While in this case I agree with you that border resizing with the
mouse is slow, I couldn't let you get by with any menubar hatred. ;-)
The unified menu bar is the reason you never have to read a manual or
look at a key command sheet to learn to use a Mac application, and
the act of using it teaches you the key commands to do the same
actions faster. I feel this is a great way of ending up at the same
point (fast keyboard interaction) while making the learning curve
much less steep (you can use everything perfectly fine without
knowing any key commands initially, it is just a bit slower).

Remember, reaching for "maximum speed" is what gave us vi. :-)

- John
Received on Thu Mar 23 2006 - 18:03:14 UTC

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