[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [usability] mouse-1 for performing actions?

From: Robert J. Chassell
Subject: Re: [usability] mouse-1 for performing actions?
Date: Fri, 24 May 2002 20:16:12 +0000 (UTC)

   > ... a slow connection (perhaps 1200 baud; traceroute
   > indicated some sort of trouble in Newark, NJ) to a third machine,
   > using Emacs without a mouse.)

   Congratulations. :-)   I would call such an environment unusable from a
   usability point of view.

Many programs are no good at all for remote operations on a slow

QWEST had some sort of trouble in New Jersey and does not properly
re-route packets the way the Internet was originally designed.  I had
to create a different route in order to get hold of my email.  I
agree, a slow connection makes for a poor interface, but fortunately,
with Emacs, it is basically the same interface I always use, only

The point of this is that a good user interface takes into account not
only good circumstances, such as I am enjoying as I type these words,
but other circumstances as well, such as remote connections over poor
lines, or being without a mouse on a laptop, or being situationally
blind, as in a car, listening to email.

In many ways, designing for varied conditions is the same as designing
for varied users: on the one hand, the goal is to design an interface
that works when you lose speed, a mouse, and a meta key.  On the other
hand, the goal is to design an interface that novices can not only use
readily (for which I think menus and arrow keys are fine) but, at the
same time, that novices can learn to work more efficiently than is
possible with menus and arrow keys.

(Your descriptions of GNOME and KDE suggests to me that their
interfaces are designed for people who are novices and who are not
expected to learn to become more efficient; I don't whether this is

Moreover, designing for varied users includes designing an interface
that can be modified for people who type whole sentences or paragraphs
before editing them (Viper mode) as well as being designed for people
who edit each word or clause (Emacs in general).

The question is what defaults are suitable?

As a rule of thumb, for example, Emacs is oriented towards people who
edit as they go along, rather than write for a while and then edit, as
vi users do.  (For someone who edits as they go along, the shift in vi
from insert mode to edit mode and back requires too many keystrokes;
for someone who goes into edit mode once a paragraph, the shift is
hardly noticeable.)

Similarly, Emacs is oriented towards people who prefer to cut, copy,
and paste rather than type, and who operate on 50 or more different
buffers at one time.  Emacs is oriented towards people who navigate by
doing incremental searches, since that is easy, quick, and intuitive.
It is less intuitive and efficent to make nonincremental searches, so
the default Emacs keybinding has an extra character in it.

(The Edit menu provides a string search that is easy for novices and,
being in a menu, is intrinsically slow.  The menu also provides
incremental search, but it goes without saying that no one in their
right minds will use incremental search off a menu more than the once
or twice it takes to learn, since that interface is so slow and

   Ok, I'm probably not a typical Emacs user, since I use Gnus more than
   the regular Emacs user.  And Gnus, like most interactive Emacs modes,
   makes heavy use of buttons and hyperlinks where mouse-2 is quite
   tricky to use.

That is weird:  I have used Gnus without the mouse.  And I am using
mail mode now.  Often, I use text, Texinfo, and Emacs Lisp mode
frequently.  All of these are interactive.  None of these make much
use of buttons or hyperlinks.  I use the mouse to move point to a
non-near random location and to mark regions that commands like `M-h'
don't handle.  

Only in read-only buffers do I use the mouse much for clicking on
buttons, and that only when that is efficient.  (In the RMAIL-summary
buffer, for example, I tend to use the `d' and `n' keys alot.  I know
I can mouse click on a line and do sometimes, but that is infrequent
compared to the number of times I press the `d' and `n' keys.)

Obviously, a mouse is useful in some circumstances.  I am not saying
that one should not use a mouse; I use one when able.  I am being
puzzled at the degree you use the mouse for things other than marking
and copying regions text or for changing the location of point.

   ... heavy use of buttons and hyperlinks where mouse-2 is quite
   tricky to use.

How is the use of mouse-2 trickier than the use of mouse-1 or mouse-3?

    Robert J. Chassell                  address@hidden
    Rattlesnake Enterprises             http://www.rattlesnake.com

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]