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On the Widespread Misuse of the Mouse

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the just-click-it-and-shut-up dept.

GUI 405

An anonymous reader writes "Recently launched blog "The New Interface Advocate," has an entry about how mice are being applied to situations they are intrinsically poorly suited for. It also has an interesting proposal for how to keep most of the current paradigm of GUIs and still take advantage of the other control devices, such as the keyboard."

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I think we need the 'slashdotted' tag (2, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799493)

As their webserver smolders in ruins and I lack the credentials to apply it to the story myself...

Article Text (4, Informative)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799553)

I had no problems reading it, but since you can't seem to get to it, here is the text:

Now, I am by no means hoping to abolish the mouse. Its price to performance ratio is unmatched, and the best alternative pointing device (the tablet) can't be found for much less than an order of magnitude greater expense: hard to justify for the relatively small performance edge it offers. What I do wish to decry is the enormous reliance on the mouse to cover every possible user interface situation, failing to take advantage of other, better designs. Years of lazy design and low opinions of the user's desire (even ability) to learn have left us with a constant testing of Fitts' Law for such trivial tasks as saving, broken paradigms (what about a real-world button relates to replacing an old document irrevocably with the current one?), and a user experience that is more patronizing than productive.

Let's start with a few key ideas about interface devices. The keyboard is quantized (that is, it consists of discrete units of input, like a piano's notes), while the mouse is continuous (its input ranges without breaks across the entire screen, like the strings of a violin which cover every possible pitch in their range).

Now, think about the actions you perform on your computer in a given day. You type, save, open, close, select, resize, navigate, refresh, cancel, approve, and perform scores of other actions.

Now divide the tasks into groups. Which ones consist of discrete actions, and which require fine, continuous control? I'll be generous (and rude to my fellow console text editors--I know vi/emacs can both comfortably rely on keyboard input only) and say text selection and input positioning, color selection, drawing, and most (spatial) navigation is most naturally, perhaps even most effectively, performed with a continuous input device such as a mouse.

Now, for the discrete actions: type, save, open, close, refresh, cancel, approve, and most of the other basic actions. In fact, I'd say many users could count scores of daily activities that are discrete, whereas breaking a dozen continuous actions would be a challenge. (Let's put aside all window management like switching between windows, resizing them, moving them, and so on. These mostly seem continuous but I'll explain in a later post why they're usually not.)

Now, which of those actions are new users taught to do with the discrete input device? Typing.

Now, advanced users have memorized ways to do a large fraction of (or, if they're fanatical, all) discrete actions with their discrete-input device. If you're looking for evidence of the superiority of a keyboard over a mouse in most situations, look at these users. There is a strong correlation between how much time a person uses computers (especially professionally) and how much they switch away from the mouse whenever readily possible. I challenge you to find a hundredth as many IT professionals who prefer the mouse as who prefer the keyboard when either will perform a given action.

Further advantage of a keyboard over the mouse lies in "muscle memory." (For those who might not be familiar with the term, it's the re-enforced skill of repeated actions--and the reason we can speak, write, type, and a host of other skills, without having to consciously perform every muscle contraction in careful coordination.) This, however, isn't because it's quantized, but rather because our position on the keyboard is generally absolute, whereas whenever we grab the mouse the cursor could be anywhere. In fact, there are only five pixels we can hit with our eyes closed--the one we're on plus the four corners. That's less than 1/150,000th of the median computer screen's real estate that can be associated with muscle memory. The keyboard, on the other hand, can be entirely memorized (or close to it) in the course of general computer use. With combinations of control, alt, and shift, and even the more modestly skilled typists have literally hundreds of key combinations they could hit rapidly, even with their eyes closed (and that's ignoring key-chaining that programs like Emacs use).

Now, consider that without on-screen controls, the entire screen could be devoted to content. Certainly that's a small gain in most programs (perhaps 10% on average, based on a wholly unscientific guess by me), but in more complex programs (like Photoshop) tools and controls can account for over a quarter of the screen. Save most of that space and you've upgraded your monitor by several inches diagonal. Furthermore, these same controls require the user to switch between their keyboard and mouse frequently. Perhaps it isn't the most criminal of inefficiencies, but it's still squeezing in more work to the same ends.

"Okay," you're thinking, "you may have me convinced that a keyboard is a better fit for most actions, but let's see you convince the average computational neophyte that hiding everything behind obscure key combinations is somehow an improvement. The very euphemism for the user-unfriendly cruelty of engineers is the mystical incantation of button pressing on a VCR needed to banish the blinking 12:00 until the next power outage. How could transferring this blind manipulation to computer's user interfaces possibly improve the world?"

The reason you say that is that you are still thinking in the framework of traditional GUIs. I never said "blind," "hiding," or "obscure." Note also that I didn't claim the transition would require no adaptation by existing users. Such a claim would be a lie for any changes.

What I am claiming is that, with a little thoughtful work, a keyboard-centric interface would be at least as usable a mouse-centric one. Xerox Alto's revolutionary mouse (once filtered through Apple to the Macintosh), is rightly credited with bringing usable, accessible (in the social/intellectual, not physical, sense) computing to the mainstream, but we've strayed from good design, by forgetting about other input devices. In my next entry, I will explore one possible design for applications to largely eliminate the use of a mouse in favor of the more appropriate keyboard--without reducing usability.

Without further adieu, I give you a proposal for a mouseless graphical user interface.

Update: It seems, as I peruse Jeff Atwood's site, he has mentioned the efficiency of the keyboard over the mouse, which, according to Jeremy Miller is "the first step to coding faster." I'm glad these gentlemen recognize the utility of the keyboard, and I'll forgive Mr. Miller's programming-centric view of the benefits. Perhaps a few more people will join the team.

Article Text, part 2 (4, Informative)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799669)

And this is part 2:

Since I said the mouse needed to be seriously re-examined as the primary device for interacting with the user-interface (see my previous entry), it's only fair that I give an example of a better way to do it. In this entry I explore one possible way to minimally change the interface to almost remove the mouse entirely, without increasing the difficulty of learning how to use software.

(Note: Click on Images for a full-size view.) Original OOo Screenshot (Here we have an unaltered screenshot of the experimental subject.)

First step: rip out essentially all of the traditional controls. That means drop-downs, buttons, and menus. Notable exceptions include the scroll bars and status bar (both of which provide excellent and frequently needed feedback like what the open file is, and where in the document the user is). Also, I'm going to take some liberties with the status bar to pull out some of the more cryptic (and rarely referenced) information in favor of somewhat more relevant data.

Original OOo Screenshot (The closest thing to a decapitation of an application you'll see.)

Second step: sit a user down (possibly with a close supply of anti-anxiety medication for those less comfortable with change), and tell them that if they want to "Control" the application, they need to press the "Control" key (great name for that key, huh?). When they do, overlay the application window with something like the following:

Design proposal for mouseless GUI (Okay, so I'm not a graphic designer, but I bet there are a few around who could pretty this up.)

Notes on the sketch: (1) Yes, this is a lot few functions than OpenOffice writer has. I'm just trying to present proof that all the icons and the most used part of the menu can readily be represented this way. Comprehensive feature lists are better represented by my menu-replacement sketch below. However, the idea is that that should be rarely needed. If it's used with any frequency, the application designer anticipated the user needs poorly. (2) I know some of the key-bindings are less than intuitive. I blame the 3am restarting of the whole design thanks to a bug that trashed my last design (followed by the same bug killing it a second time at 6am).

Now, there are some subtleties to the design. First, there could be two ways to access the dialog--tapping control, alt, or whatever could toggle the reference screen on until the modifier is tapped again, or, if the user holds down one of those modifiers, the reference screen disappears as soon as it's released. This makes the use of the control key much more accessible for those of us who haven't moved it from it's instant-carpel-tunnel-inducing location at the very edge of what an average-sized hand can reach.

Next, commands can be put in bold if they've been used recently. (The definition of "recently" was the subject of extensive debate when I was working with highlighting recently changed items in my last project. I'll leave "recent" undefined for lack of true resolution of that question for me.) Microsoft's "adaptive" menu system (also known as "Help! Where did half my menu go?") tries to address the same problem of adapting to user's usage patterns. This, however, is a much better way to speed finding of common commands. It doesn't shuffle items around or hide them, (both of which confound the user's ability to memorize the interface and wreaks havoc on users trying to use someone else's copy of a program).

Now, imagine the user's thought sequence as they try to enter a command. "Hm. I need to save. Hit 'Control,' save... ah, 's.'" Imagine that a few dozen times, and it starts to sound a lot like studying flashcards. For free, just by using the interface! Within weeks (assuming fairly sporadic usage), a user has memorized the shortcuts to all their common commands, obviating even looking as they execute them. Daily users could be fully proficient in even uncommonly-used combinations within days, with the pop-up screen little more than a flicker (at which point the user could set a delay for its appearance or turn it off entirely to keep it from getting in the way).

Of course, there are some potential difficulties with the design. The most glaring is the amount of seeming screen clutter when the user first sees the reference screen. However, the current system requires the person to memorize that the picture of a floppy disk means "Save the file I'm working on, without changing the name" versus the floppy disk with red lines on it, which means "Save the file I'm working on with a new name," or look at long lists of words which (sometimes) lack any visual cues at all (in the menu system). Careful layout can also minimize this problem. There's also the relatively computationally expensive nature of the reference screen, being a translucent (possibly dynamically-generated) pop-up. Thankfully all current versions of windowing systems (X Windows (for Linux/BSD/etc.), Windows, and MacOS X) support hardware accelerated eye candy like translucence. It's not even essential to have it look so fancy, and caching makes generation nearly free.

Now, software like tends to have features packed in by the pound, so my button-replacement fairs poorly with those. It would be entirely reasonable to say that menus can stay. They do take minimal screen estate, and can be used with a keyboard.

I'm not a fan of half-measures, though. The menu is hard enough to navigate with a keyboard to encourage the user to reach for the mouse I'm trying to obviate. Consequently, it could be replaced by the following design (again, click for larger versions):

Menu Replacement Design part 1

Now, the user accesses the "Menu System" (which, curiously now looks more like a menu than before) by tapping the "Alt" key. The above screen appears over the application. The user then types a few letter from the command they're looking for (the letters can be from anywhere in the command, and several groups of letters can be searched for by separating them by spaces). Once the user starts typing, entries not matching the string(s) are greyed out, as are columns without any matches. After typing the three letters "sav" the screen looks like the next mock-up (note the underlining of the matching part of the name):

Menu Replacement Design part 2

Once the list has been trimmed down enough, the user selects the item they want by hitting tab (or moving with the arrow keys) until the one they want is selected (selection not shown here) and hitting enter. If there is only one match, it is automatically selected so the user need only hit enter once the list has been fully reduced.

This system again draws on the same strengths as the pop-up control window (which I won't enumerate again), but allows vastly denser commands.

There are several shortcomings of these last two mock-ups (which is fine, they're not final designs, just proof-of-concepts). First, the's menu system has been copied here, but I excluded the sub-menus for time considerations. Second-layer menus could easily be implemented by restarting the process with the sub-menu's options once the name of a sub-menu is selected. Also, this design excludes the helper icons that has (again, time considerations--cropping, cleaning and placing scores of icons is just too slow work), as well as check marks beside the entries that are toggles. The latter problem is because I didn't leave myself enough room for those, and they aren't important enough to the idea of the system to warrant a complete re-layout.

Final thoughts: I hope this design has given you an idea of how easy a re-design of the GUI concept would be, and how powerful common input devices like the keyboard can be when used correctly. HCI/User Experience designers, don't just live with the status quo.

Update: Jeff Atwood wrote about Vista's new, more keyboard-friendly, start menu, which it seems, is only a few tweaks away from being comparable to my menu replacement design. Unfortunately, I, being an exclusive GNU/Linux user, I don't see much of the recent Redmond or Cupertino products.

Re:Article Text, part 2 (5, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800137)

Best sentence in the whole article: (Note: Click on Images for a full-size view.)

Re:Article Text (3, Informative)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800453)

I stopped reading after the first paragraph. A tablet? Orders of magnitude more expensive? What? A good mouse costs at least 20€ (Logitec/Microsoft), and a tablet costs a whopping 80€ [] . A Voltio2 costs a whopping 40€ [] . Both are Wacoms, I'm sure you can get cheaper elsewhere (Trust [] ). Sure the Graphire Intuos3 A4, that I bought for my wife was 500€ back then (it still is), but not everyone needs that. Heck, my wife doesn't even need it!

Tablets have become very affordable, and if you like to use them, nothing stops you from buying one. Personally, I don't like them, but that my own inability to draw well that is at stake here ;-)

Re:Article Text (1)

ZwJGR (1014973) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800647)

A good mouse costs at least 20 (Logitec/Microsoft)...
If by good you mean "Brand-Laser" then yes.
My 5-button Logitech optical mouse cost me 12, and there were a whole selection of cheaper good ones, and dirt cheap crap ones.

For the average user, the perceived cost of a mouse is low.
I'll have to take your word about tablet prices...
Although I have a tablet with a built in wireless mouse (which I don't use), and I'm pretty sure it was fairly cheap...
I've never used it, so it might be crap though...

Re:Article Text (2, Interesting)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800743)

You can always get crap mice. Heck, ball-mice are still sold. My last Logitech mouse was around 20€, and that was one of the cheap ones. I know insane people (ehm, sorry, "Gamers") that shell out up to 100€ for a mouse.

Now, I do realise that Joe Sixpack won't shell out big money for his pointing devices, but he's hardly the person that optimizes his input-device usage. He's the person that (as described below in another post) clicks on a textfield, fills out the text, moves the mouse to click on another textfield.... all that instead of using tab.

The tablet prices I quoted came straight from Wacoms online shop. So, you don't even have to take my word for it.

A Mouse In One Hand... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19799557)

...And A Tissue In The Other

Globaltics []

My lovely mouse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19799511)

My lovely mouse, running through the field
Where are you going, with your whiskers blowing in the wind?

I want to shower you with cheese, and throw you over fences
Polish your ears every single day, and bring you to the mousedentist

My lovely mouse, you're a rat no more
Running around with a head in a trap, like a wrecked train in the twilight...

Re:My lovely mouse (1)

ritchim (1097289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800117)


Re:My lovely mouse (1)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800471)

I think you should drop the sax solo at the end.

Turning into a real problem at work (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19799515)

I can't even begin to count the number of times we've had someone use a mouse in an orifice it did not belong.

Re:Turning into a real problem at work (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800605)

Everybody know you are supposed to use a Gerbil [] . Here are detailed instructions [] .

Using mouse hurts!!! (4, Insightful)

b1ufox (987621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799521)

Really my wrist hurts as using mouse is obligation on my desktop, and that too for an average of 12 hours a day.

I know, i know CLI is there but CLI browsers are no match for GUI browsers sadly.

Moreover i would love to use keyboard keys for everything and for those who feel like me shifting to a more keyboard centric environment, try fluxbox. Wicked cool with all things in place, plus it is fast too, not to mention custom ways you can mould it to.

Re:Using mouse hurts!!! (5, Funny)

GFree (853379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799609)

Sorry... suffering massive packet loss... your post came out rather fragmented. I could only make out the following:

Really my wrist hurts

average of 12 hours a day

Re:Using mouse hurts!!! (2, Insightful)

ThePyro (645161) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799713)

Really my wrist hurts as using mouse is obligation on my desktop, and that too for an average of 12 hours a day.

Buy a trackball / TrackMan. I switched to using a Logitech TrackMan about 2 years ago after having wrist pain from too much mousing. The pain went away and it hasn't come back since. I've never met anyone who switched to a trackball and regretted it.

Re:Using mouse hurts!!! (2, Interesting)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800007)

I tried that, the pain it caused in my thumb was much worse than any write pain a mouse ever caused.

Re:Using mouse hurts!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19800375)

then you're probably just a pansy

Re:Using mouse hurts!!! (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800381)


damn typo daemon.

From Mouse to Trackball to G5 Laser Mouse (1)

funkdancer (582069) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800543)

I used a trackball from around 1998 till 2006 to get around issues of RSI, however whilst I cannot talk up the benefit of this (and a natural keyboard) enough, after discovering the G5 laser mouse I'm now someone who's gone back to using mice. The reason is an incredible dot pitch which at max resolution lets me move the cursor across three screens (1600+1920+1600) in less than the width of a hand.

Your English hurts, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19799847)

real keyboard enthusiasts use dwm

ande eye phOund oUt (-1, Offtopic)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799531)

teh mOus iS noT guud fEr posTi ng oN SlasHDote%

Re:ande eye phOund oUt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19799857)

WTF was that non-humorous cruft? Frist Proster, lemme tell ya, you'd have been better off to post using only your mouse; y'know, blank.

Re:ande eye phOund oUt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19800397)

it made me chuckle a bit (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19799541)

And here I though the story was about the abuse of medical mice. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19800197)

Q: How did the homo know he only had six more weeks to live?
A: The mouse came out and saw its shadow.

Better Yet Would Be a List of Trade-Offs (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799565)

Well, this is a really interesting article that, I must admit, I'm guilty of just following the crowd in this respect of allowing--no, relying on the mouse to do everything. It's very interesting and refreshing to read about someone suggesting something new and intuitive about user input to a computing device.

However, I found his premise inaccessible and, after reading the first part of this two part idea, I couldn't come up with a concrete advantage for using his method. At first, it seems like this is an argument for speed though I doubt rendering all those options in an overlay to display to the user would be much more efficient than a mouse click on a menu bar. The real estate gain is the obvious definitive advantage his system would have over everything I've used. However, the user must first know how to bring up the options overlay ... and I think he mentions the issues that would be associated with subselections. I tried to imagine the GIMP using this in my mind but the submenus would get out of hand. For example, you would like to use script-fu? Well, there's two submenus under that of a dynamic allotment of add ons that I can structure in directories however I want. Tough to deal with stuff like that.

I guess what I would have preferred in a blog like this is a more comprehensive analysis of trade offs when going against the grain in UI input methods. For example, using method A provides you with the benefits of speed & real estate saving but may be inaccessible for some users who are very used to the point and click paradigm and find new learning curves challenging or scary (there are people like that out there). In my opinion, keeping it as simple as possible and knowing your audience are the two biggest things to remember when designing a UI and I think this blog raises an excellent point that we shouldn't be afraid with re-examining the window system in operating systems but I don't think this is applicable in all situations.

Anyone out there (Edward Tufte students, psychologists, etc.) ever do a trade study on these features for their applications? Being a "form" ignorant engineer something like that would be most valuable to me.

Re:Better Yet Would Be a List of Trade-Offs (1)

The Queen (56621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799757)

some users who are very used to the point and click paradigm and find new learning curves challenging or scary (there are people like that out there)

Yes, they all work at my office.

Back OT, though, I'm afraid I'm stuck with a mouse (or similarly, one of those abominable pen tablets) until they can design a keyboard that lets me do things like effectively trace objects with the lasso tool in Photoshop. If all you ever do is data entry, sure; but most functions I perform require the continuous control of a mouse. This is not to say I'm not in favor of something more precise/ergonomic, just that I don't think keyboard shortcuts can solve everything.

Re:Better Yet Would Be a List of Trade-Offs (3, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800019)

Now that's where I differ. Depending on the application, I may use the mouse or the keyboard more. If it's a more typing-oriented application (like a word processor, text editor, spreadsheet) than I'm more likely to use the keyboard shortcuts for things like Save, Copy, Paste... If it's a more visual-interface-oriented application (like, say Rosegarden, Blender, or Ardour), then I'm more likely to use the mouse.

In some applications, I take a hybrid approach. For example, when using Inkscape or Corel Draw (which have similar interfaces and shortcuts), I might click on an object, and then say, press Ctrl+D to duplicate. Or I might click on text and then hit Ctrl+T to bring up the text editing dialog.

I don't think that the author's interface has to be all or nothing ... it depends on the application. You can keep both methods and allow the user to turn off the toolbars, etc., while turning on the keyboard overlay for user that want that.

Re:Better Yet Would Be a List of Trade-Offs (3, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800497)

The thing that the article doesn't appear to touch on, and the real reason for the fact that you can perform most actions using both a pointing device like a mouse and a button/chord device like a keyboard, is that the most time consuming part of operating a computer is switching back and forth between them.

If you really wanted to sit down and build yourself something that would be highly efficient, you'd use a chording keyboard on the one hand, a pointer with gesture support on the other hand, and never take your hands off either until you were ready to step away from your machine.

Having a trackball embedded into the lower section of the keyboard where you could manipulate it with either thumb without having to take your index fingers off the home row would be pretty efficient too. I'd buy one.

Re:Better Yet Would Be a List of Trade-Offs (1)

Flamefly (816285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800761)

To be fair, I'm not sure the GIMP (or any graphics program) is a good example of how his ideas fall down. With graphical packages you're using the mouse (or stylus) as your primary mode of contact rather then the keyboard, so having an interface that is more dependant on the primary contact isn't a terribly bad thing-- of course keyboard shortcuts for the most popular elements are still a great timesaver. The huge benefit comes with programs where the keyboard is the primary contact between user and machine. You mention that many users will be lost, but I think three basic keys would really simplify it for new users. Instead of having to learn about all the menus, submenus, toolbars, keyboard shortcuts and context menus, they learn three control keys and that's all they need. I'd love to see it as an optional mode, working fullscreen with no distractions is a surprising boon- I use a program called DarkRoom, which is a fullscreen notepad, no options at all to speak of-- very pleasant to use.

Re:Better Yet Would Be a List of Trade-Offs (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800763)

"I found his premise inaccessible"

That's nothing. I found the article itself inaccessible (slashdotted).

Not having read TFA yet.. (4, Interesting)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799569)

I know of one misuse, is the overuse of popup lists in forms, especially when entering dates (one popup for month, one for day, and another for year)

When people are entering alphanumeric data give them as much keyboard access as possible, leaving the keyboard just adds to the entry time, stress injuries as well as potential for typing errors (reorienting to typing position after mouse usage.)

The second is popups instead of checklists and radio/selection lists, which add to the mouse gymnastics to select one or more options from a single line field.

It may be easier to make the popups (unfortunately many tutorials use date popups as an early example of web programming), either way you still have to validate the information, so take the extra effort to out in a generic text box, checklist or selection list and add a few more lines of validation code.

Re:Not having read TFA yet.. (2, Informative)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799901)

Actually using the TAB key and the up/down buttons works in those cases. Alternatively you can try typing in something like 05 really fast and it may pop up without having to do multiple up/down keypresses.

Re:Not having read TFA yet.. (2, Interesting)

dave420 (699308) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799925)

Do you mean a drop-down list instead of a pop-up? If so, you can use the keyboard to enter data into those (on Windows, anyway - OS X still has some problems with keyboard-accessible forms). They're usually accelerated by the keyboard, so when entering a date, you can type it in, and it'll select the one you type. A good feature on Windows (I know, oxymoron, emphasis on the moron, etc.) is in Explorer, instead of using the mouse to select a filename, you just type it in, and it'll select it.

Using the mouse is intrinsically slower than the keyboard, especially when you switch from one to the other. That's why I can't use OS X, even with the option enabled to use the keyboard for all parts of the GUI, as that still doesn't allow for properly keyboard-accessible use of the GUI.

Re:Not having read TFA yet.. (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800617)

They can be inconsistent. For instance, if I TAB to a day field and then type 1 and then 2, I want to I get 12. But in practice, sometimes I get 2. Other times, I get 20. Rarely do I actually get 12.

Re:Not having read TFA yet.. (1)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800531)

When people are entering alphanumeric data give them as much keyboard access as possible, leaving the keyboard just adds to the entry time, stress injuries as well as potential for typing errors (reorienting to typing position after mouse usage.)

You should never have a problem reorienting to typing position unless you don't use your home keys. That's exactly what they're for: starting position for typing. On a rare occasion I've had a problem with my typing position, but that was when I was trying to type while standing, not something I'm used to doing.

Keyboard as an alternative (4, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799573)

I skimmed the article, and I didn't see one other reason why I think everything that can be done with a mouse should also be doable by a keyboard, even stuff that is more efficient to do with a mouse: scripting.

Generally, scripting and automating mouse actions is very difficult. Scripting and automating keyboard actions is trivial.

Re:Keyboard as an alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19800369)

I agree with you, it would be a whole lot easier to script things if you could do it all with keyboard input. Scripting mouse input isn't that hard though. Check out []

Mice Vs Keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19799599)

I think the problem is that people often think because something is new and modern in terms of software that a mouse is the best way to use it. Things like EVE - the visual traffic analysis tool [] have keyboard options like games, but how many people just potter around the GUI with the mouse when the keyboard is more effective.

Apps should take a leaf out of the gamers handbook imo.

Keyboard ftw!

Re:Mice Vs Keyboard (4, Insightful)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799809)

People like mice because the way the GUI interfaces is set up with a mouse gives people information on the fly now to use the program, while doing things with a mouse. Accessing those same things with a keybaord can only really be done with the menus, and those are usually set up to be more mouse efficient.

I think the author hit the nail on the head with his article. You can't just make the application do everything via the keybaord. Rather, you have to have it able to use the keyboard for any task, and able to prompt the user so that they don't have to keep going to references to find what they want.

The overlay idea is fairly interesting and ingenious compared to what a normal keyboard-only interface produces. I kinda like that solution.

Re:Mice Vs Keyboard (1)

notaspunkymonkey (984275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800359)

I was asked to write an application which my firm could use as a helpdesk tool I created the core of the application so that using a mouse was not necessary - using alpha-numeric menu's etc. Whilst this took a bit more thought and a bit more design the application works like a dream (if I do say so myself!) The staff who use it rarely need to access any other applications - and so data entry is so much quicker than their old application which relied on click and point drop down menu's etc. Some new starters find it a pain to get used to - but overall I think that it allows much more data to be entered in a shorter space of time - with increased accuracy. The reporting side was far more complex - and needs a mouse to be used - but aside from that it works well and is much quicker.

CoralCache links (4, Informative)

Toffins (1069136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799607)

page 1 [] and page 2 []

"A proposal for a nearly mouseless interface." (3, Funny)

bheer (633842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799651)

When I read that in TFA, I swear the first thought in my mind was -- he's going to reinvent Emacs?

Re:"A proposal for a nearly mouseless interface." (1)

Dausha (546002) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800483)

"...he's going to reinvent Emacs..."

Don't be absurd. Emacs is already the finest operating system in the world. He's quite obviously not going to suggest creating a new OS.

Cat the Mouse (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799677)

I hate the mouse, except as a children's/newbie's teaching tool. If I've got desk space for a mousepad, I want to use that for my display. And why do all that (carpal tunnel inviting) work to move a virtual pointer?

I prefer the trackpad. But why don't I have a touchscreen with stability and accuracy already? There's no reason for a "pointer metaphor" device when I can just move the actual pointer.

Give me a touchscreen and maybe a little rubber pointer fingercap, if I'm freaked out by smudges, or need to see the pointed pixel under my fingertip. Or give me an antiglare screen that doesn't collect smudges, and put a rock-solid pointer just above my fingertip. Put some bumpy, but invisible, texture on the screen, and we've finally graduated from Xerox PARC [] into the 20th Century.

Hey Apple, can you finally redeem us from the nightmarish little box you cursed us with when you tempted us out of the terminal?

Re:Cat the Mouse (4, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799795)

I prefer the trackpad. But why don't I have a touchscreen with stability and accuracy already? There's no reason for a "pointer metaphor" device when I can just move the actual pointer.
Touch screens are nice, but they have a major flaw: user fatigue.

Stick out your arm, just do it. Now hold it there for 5 minutes. Do you start to feel a little tired? Now leave it out there for another 10 minutes, see how good you feel.

Now imagine doing that straight through an 8-hour work day.

The only ways around this would be to make all screens flat against the desk (like a piece of paper) or to pivot your arm at the elbow. But even the elbow lever method would wear you out after a while. Sure it would probably be good exercise but I'm sure it would cause more health problems than a mouse in the long term.

If you don't like the mouse, try track pads, roller balls, pens, etc. Personally I use the trackball, with my only complaint being I have to continusouly clean the thing (more than my old ball-type mice).

Stop being such a geek (4, Insightful)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799995)

You know there are professions that have been in use for ages that require you to use your arms all day. Blacksmithing, weaving, farming, manufacturing, etc, etc. You would learn to do it, just as you have learned not to do it. Besides, if it was laid down on the desk, it would be like ... writing, you know, that people have done for ages. Maybe we could get some Franciscan Monks to teach us how to hold a pen for 8 hours. Yeesh.


Re:Stop being such a geek (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800181)

Wish I had mod points. Bottom line, tha way we interact with computers is so 1960ish it's not even funny.
Gimme voice commands and dictation via laringophone and maybe a stylus to point and drag with and I'll be happy.
Dare I say "haptic interface"? Nah, let's save that for the 22nd century.

Re:Stop being such a geek (2, Insightful)

billdar (595311) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800603)

While cool, voice commands/interaction is way too slow (even removing accuracy issues). It just takes a while to say what you want.

Example: Those automated telephone bill-pay services that let you speak or use keypad to enter your credit card info. Time yourself speaking clearly the 16 digits or entering through the keypad.

Now consider a complex command, like copying a block of text and inserting in the middle of a paragraph. How could you verbalize it quicker than a mouse stroke or a couple hot-keys?

Just too slow.

Re:Stop being such a geek (2, Interesting)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800233)

Your post reads more sardonic than sarcastic, but I could be wrong.

There's a difference between holding your arm out in front of you and actually doing something with your arms. I've done the whole physical labor thing; working outside, using tools all day, and carrying heavy loads of crap around; it's not bad. But holding your arm straight out (or pivoted) is oddly draining in comparison. Personally I'd rather be a blacksmith than just hold my hand face-level for 8 hours.

As for the paper thing, I wasn't saying it was a bad thing but some people just wouldn't like it. At least w/ a vertical LCD it's easy to stare at it at 90 degrees, which makes the picture look correct. Flat against a desk, you'll be more inclined to look at it at an angle, which some (cheaper) LCDs have a problem with.

Re:Cat the Mouse (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800075)

When I have to plug a pointing device into a PC, I use a trackball. The Logitech "marble mouse" I use doesn't collect dirt against the sensors, but rather it falls through a hole onto the desk. I haven't had to clean it in several years of use, compared to several times a year for an actual mouse whose moving parts I never touch with my fingers.

I said I prefer the trackpad. And I like the "display on desk" routine: it was great for centuries, millennia, without ever hearing about "carpal tunnel syndrome" or other repetitive stress.

But I also like looking straight at a screen. So probably the real ergonomic innovation here is a support for the forearm that takes the least space, obstructs motion and view the least, and lets me keep my hand raised effortlessly.

Or we can get really smart and invent the 90 minute workday, with several 30 minute breaks ;).

Besides, this tech will really get going with mobile devices. A 4x5" screen with active, invisible bumps defining dynamic ridges and active areas on a handheld GUI ("GTFUI": Graphical Touch and Feel UI). Apple, what's that up your sleeve?

Re:Cat the Mouse (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800613)

The Logitech "marble mouse" I use doesn't collect dirt against the sensors, but rather it falls through a hole onto the desk.

Maybe they've tweaked the design since I got mine, but I find that gunk builds up on the bearings that the ball sits on, and the movement gets rough and jerky after a couple of months until I scrape the gunk off the bearings. The sensor and ball itself manage to stay clean though, I think partly because the ball is hard plastic without the rubber coating that mouse balls tend to use to grip the mat.

Re:Cat the Mouse (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800771)

The ball rides on a few tiny rounded points that do not accumulate anything in my office. The sensor window seems to have a little bit of gunk flakes sitting on its bottom ridge, but it works just fine.

Re:Cat the Mouse (2, Insightful)

*weasel (174362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800241)

Now imagine doing that straight through an 8-hour work day.

Artists and Draftsman have been doing it for centuries.
Just shift to a drawing-table-style inclined workspace for display and input.

The problem isn't that people don't like the mouse.
The problem is that the mouse is not good at what it's being used to do.
Further, touchscreens do what mousing does far better and the keyboard does the remainder even better than that.

So why not combine it all into an inclined desktop with an app-programmable touch-based keyboard (live app-specific shotcut keys with meaningful icons) and a touch-sensitive flat display?

Clickety-clack fans could even keep the physical 101, and their programmable touch keyspace could just wrap around the sides and top for additional shortcut keys.

Re:Cat the Mouse (1)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800535)

Stick out your arm, just do it. Now hold it there for 5 minutes. Do you start to feel a little tired? Now leave it out there for another 10 minutes, see how good you feel. Now imagine doing that straight through an 8-hour work day.
I think you just found the solution to the nation's obesity problem. And we would all have sexy shoulders, too.

Re:Cat the Mouse (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800231)

I don't know about you, but my finger can't click in 8 different ways.

Re:Cat the Mouse (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800393)

My four fingers can click in 16 different combos. My thumb makes it 32. Moving from binary to click, doubleclick, hold, (nothing) quaternary, that's something like 256-1024. Even if only the index and middle fingers have quaternary gestures, that's 16, with 2-3 other binary combos on the remaining fingers for 64-128 simple gestures.

Then there's the huge range of other gestures. Like tracing two independent points with the index and middle fingers. Dragging with one finger while clicking (or quaternary gesture) with the other(s). Then there's the huge range offered by the other hand on the same screen.

Face it, a mouse has just a 2D + 2 (clumsily) quaternary buttons (or one, on a Mac). A touchscreen has the combination of all of its pixels, each manipulable into several different states, by 10 fingers, maybe a palm. All those "mouse gestures" Firefox launched but which never really became popular could finally become the really intuitive, expressive interface we want.

Oh look, a "recently launched" blog (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19799687) by someone with no credentials, who couldn't even be bothered to make his own blog template.

He blathers on about some "proposal," which basically involves popping up menus based on modifier keys. Then he says "Without further adieu." This is a worthless blog, and a worthless post, and a new low for slashdot being used to jack up hit counters.

i hate mice (1)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799689)

I know there a few situations where they are one of the better input devices... but what i would like to see is a self reconfiguraing keyboard (maybe just a big oled/lcd touch display) that rearrages its layout for the application at hand. For example-- if you were using photoshop it would place a tool menu, a drawing square and a couple other options on the keyboard-- if you switched a word processor it would become a keyboard with some formatting options. no need for menus-- you could hit a "menu button" on the "keyboard" and have the keyboard change into a bunch of menu options... It would be a lot like LCARS. :)

Re:i hate mice (1)

maubp (303462) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800041)

...but what i would like to see is a self reconfiguraing keyboard (maybe just a big oled/lcd touch display) that rearrages its layout for the application at hand...

You mean like this, Optimus Maximus keyboard?: []

Of course, for maximum benefit it needs the software to aware of it...

Re:i hate mice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19800655)

sorry, but I would hate that idea...

you want to learn a new keyboard layout for every program you use?

personally, I feel comfort with the notches on the F and J keys... keeps me centered and lets me know that I am actually typing in words instead of stuff like jru yjrtr jpe str upi fpomh?

granted I use shortcuts whenever I can, but I also like the mouse and the simplicity it offers.

Emacs-ish (3, Insightful)

BrokenSegue (895288) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799693)

Is it just me or does this "new" system look a lot like the control system employed by Emacs (and even vi), but with a colorful overlay?

More mouse & less keyboard (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799719)

The advantage of the mouse is that you can do a lot of work without having to touch the keyboard. If you are using the mouse then it is it is very annoying to have to switch to the keyboard to do something. Than again I am not a touch typist or anything.

The think I hate about OSX is that all the commands are hidden in menus. There are hardly any toolbars in Mac software. This means that the lovely GUI parctically fores you to use the keyboard. Thats just wrong.

Mouse Gestures (5, Interesting)

Romwell (873455) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799725)

Just two words to save the mouse: Mouse Gestures. The author tells us how limited mouse is in terms "muscle memory", yet he doesn't know that mouse isn't only for clicking. Mouse gestures can, and are performed automatically from muscle memory. I've learned a copule for Opera, and then I had to LEARN to NOT APPLY mouse gesture (down-right) to close Explorer windows.

Re:Mouse Gestures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19800159)

Mouse gestures are what turned me off of Opera. They were on by default in the version I evaluated and when random things started happening with no explanation I immediately uninstalled the product, thoroughly disgusted with its instability. I later learned that mouse gestures were to blame and that they could be turned off, but it was too late for me, I went back to Firefox.

I really hate mouse gestures, random input that is possible should never be mapped to actual functionality in an application (by default). An application should require deliberate action by the user to result in anything happening. Mouse gestures are evil.

Re:Mouse Gestures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19800727)

You know, it doesn't just use magic input and read brainwaves. It requires you to deliberately hold down the right mouse button and move the mouse in one (or more) direction(s).

Furthermore, I can't remember it having ever been default. It asks nicely first time a mouse gesture is performed, whether to enable it or not.

The worse thing that happened to Usenet (1)

cbunix23 (1119459) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799739)

The worse thing that happened to Usenet was the web browser and mouse. The entire web browser paradigm applied to Usenet just grates my nerves to no end. The only way you can navigate and control anything is with the mouse. I'd rather use trn anytime over any web browser. There are other issues with browsers as applied to Usenet, but this one really gets me irked. Why can't a web browser keyboard input for navigation, everything is on buttons and has to be mouse clicked.

I'm still waiting for the GUI from Minority Report (2)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799775)

That, and really good voice recognition would let me do everything I use a computer for except writing code.

For writing code, there's no good alternative (that I've seen) to having both hands on the keyboard.

Re:I'm still waiting for the GUI from Minority Rep (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800249)

So you'd prefer to have to lift up your arms all day to control your computer. After a day of work, I bet you'd go home with your arm muscles hurting. And cool as it looks, the transparent screen doesn't help much either.

Was I the only one? (2, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799783)

Was I the only one who immediate thought about abused gerbils and duct tape?

Programming.... (4, Informative)

eggoeater (704775) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799789)

...about how mice are being applied to situations they are intrinsically poorly suited for.
Yeah, like computer programming.
I deal with a lot of different vendor products used for call routing and IVR applications. One thing that's happened over the past 10 years is the move from text scripts to proprietary GUI based programming tools. I'm talking drag-n-drop blocks that perform specific functions which "hook" together by dragging lines between them.

Generally, this is to make configuring the systems more accessible to people not properly trained (or trained at ALL) in programming. ie. They're suppose to be good for writing error-free scripts. Unfortunately, these poor tools in no way reduce the number of bugs that find their way into the system.

Additionally, they also have the following draw-backs:
* Absolutely no error handling (try, catch, etc.)
* No way to program function calls....once you choose a path, there's no going back...this results in TONS of duplicate code.
* No way to know exactly what those blocks are doing under-the-hood.
* You're limited by the functionality of the blocks provided by the vendor.
* Many difficulties with source-control systems and build-and-release procedures.
* Don't even get me started on what it's like to debug with these stupid things....

Just this morning I was paged at 5:45am because someone made a change to a script. It took me an hour to find the problem because I had to zoom in and out, trying to get a feel of the layout, looking a block properties to see what's changed, etc. It turned out the lines connecting the day-of-the-week block were set correctly: they had the Monday line connected to Sunday's code.

Talk about a fubar'd system.
They should be outlawed.

Re:Programming.... (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800465)

4GL tools tend to have this issue, but look at more recent ones...which while they DO have issues, solve most of the problems you're talking of (going to use MS examples, sorry!): Error handling: SSIS and WWF handle this quite nicely, with error paths and exception blocks, respectively. Duplication: Reusable blocks are in most of the recent tools. Knowing what it does: If its made in Java, .NET, etc, you can probably decompile it and get the code, often with the comments! (its what I did once having to tweak something very specific in SSIS Limited functionalities: Most tools have extensibility features now, that allow for even native code. Source control: no problem if it uses XML. Debugging: thats usually fine in the recent tools, if a little bit different. Good ones allow for breakpoints, variable inspection, etc. Maybe in the field you're in, the tools really suck, but they're not -ALL- bad, thats for sure! What i like is how you can use the program itself as its own documentation, which saves a lot of time, and a lot of issues syncing documentation with last minute changes...

Not inspired (0)

krazo (220290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799799)

The only argument he makes for why you would practically want to do this is to add 10-25% more screen space for content. Not good enough.

Keyboard shortcuts are far better for daily use, but they're a barrier to entry. Until I learn the shortcuts, I use the buttons. Yes, forcing me to use the shortcuts would force me to learn them more quickly and increase my productivity. But it would also add ramp up time to using the application and piss me off.

There are a lot of apps I rarely use. I like the buttons. I don't want to learn those apps. I just want to get what I need done. So I click on the icons and surf through the menus with my mouse. For those applications I use a lot, the shortcuts are there.

I think the this guy only shows that:

1) We should use shortcuts more often.

2) Applications should give advanced users the ability to turn off all toolbars (most of them do and most of us don't.)

Reminds me of the good old days (1)

songbo (614466) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799801)

Besides vi and Emacs, who else remembers Wordperfect, Wordstar, etc. The good old days when you do everything with a keyboard, and keyboard commands. There's a menu bar that you can call up and out comes the menus. You can also memorise the good ol' keyboard commands, and save loads of time. And of course, you don't waste time rendering the page nicely. That happens when you print out. :)

Well, those days are gone... and this "new" interface is nostalgically reminding me of those days. IMO, it's a fantastic idea!

We already tried that (3, Insightful)

Strawser (22927) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799825)

It was called vi. [ctl]s isn't much more efficient than [esc]:s

I like the idea of making as many commands as possible doable with the keyboard, but half the point to a gui is the ability to use the mouse instead of having to memorize a bunch of cryptic commands. Just keep the most used commands accessible by keyboard, and leave the rest to be hit with the mouse. Yeah, mice are kind of crappy for an input device, but redesigning the mouse will work better than redesigning the interface. The reason vi and emacs and other command-based editors aren't in common use outside of the geek world is because no one wants to do that except geeks.

And so it goes (2, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799831)

The mouse is simply a proxy by which the user indicates choices. It was just a matter of time before the need for a proxy was removed completely. Touch screens accomplish this. Problem is, no one, clear good method of using touch as the primary input method has presented itself...until now.

What will become clear in time is the role the iPhone will play in the death of the mouse. The version of OS X on the iPhone, not Leopard by the way, is the next big thing - get on board now and enjoy the ride.

sad or funny but the first (1)

Jaaay (1124197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799841)

thing that came to my mind when I read the words "misuse" and "mouse" was farfour mouse, a true abomination.

Re:sad or funny but the first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19799983)

Well I'd expect most folks here haven't the least idea about Farfour and even if they did they'd probably side with his creators.

Thankfully Farfour is dead now.

Re:sad or funny but the first (1)

Jaaay (1124197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800421)

Agreed that Farfour is dead thankfully. The award should be given to the guy who killed him :)))

So this writer.. (4, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799883)

Wants to go back to the 'good old days' where you'd have to tab 20 times to get to the text box you want (enevitably you'd press it 21 times and have to start over), have to remember different key combinations for every program (most keep the basics the same but advanced functions usually are different) and generally do most graphical activities slower?

Users like icons and using mouse for most activities because it's easier, safer and there's less risk of doing the wrong thing by accident. Who here hasn't experienced the frustration of losing 20 minutes of typing or resetting a connection because they pressed 'backspace' to try and delete some text only for a browser to go back a page?

Re:So this writer.. (1)

maubp (303462) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799997)

Wants to go back to the 'good old days' where you'd have to tab 20 times to get to the text box you want (enevitably you'd press it 21 times and have to start over), ...

What was wrong with using SHIFT+TAB to go back one step?

A well laid you screen (with a sensible tab order) can make tasks like data entry very easy. I cringe when watching people typing in one box, stopping, moving their mouse to the next form, click, and then go back to their keyboard! I'm sitting there shouting Just press tab! to myself.

But (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799915)

More importantly is the horrid misuse of gerbils....

Now how about misuse of font size? (2, Insightful)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799927)

Now that we've got that settled about mice, how about the widespread misuse in CSS style sheets of "body {font-size: 62.5%;}". I set my font size so that I can read the body text on pages which don't pull that crap, and now every blogger in the world has their body size set to 62.5% because that was the default that came with their TypePressBlogger thingy. So now I have to zoom the text on blog pages and Digg, and then un-zoom it when I go back to "normal" pages.

If you want your headline text bigger, then freaking set the headline font size to greater than 100%!

Admittedly, this wasn't such a problem until I got a MacBook Pro, with its higher DPI screen than the previous generation. But 62.5% also wasn't such a fad back then either.

Oh, it's the worst... (4, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799949)

Try entering text with a mouse sometime... it goes something like this:

1. Scan document for instance of the letter you want to type, scrolling as necessary.
2. Highlight, right-click, hover to "Copy", click.
3. Scroll back to your insertion point, right-click, hover to "Paste", click again.

Man is that slow and inefficient!

Re:Oh, it's the worst... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19800681)

Windows user?

In an X application it goes like this:
1. Scan document for instance of the letter you want to type, scrolling as necessary.
2. Highlight.
3. Scroll back to your insertion point, middle-click.
That saves a whole lot of clicking.

Speaking of bad interface design... (1)

LinuxWhore (90833) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799959)

From TFA: "Now, consider that without on-screen controls, the entire screen could be devoted to content."

I read this as I notice that the article only fills maybe 25% of my screen, due to some column-size constraint placed upon the page by the blog software. How about allowing me to make use of the interface I already have before getting all nit-picky about menubars and buttons taking up relatively minute amounts of screen real-estate?

Re:Speaking of bad interface design... (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800333)

Now, consider that without on-screen controls, the entire screen could be devoted to content... and without any visual clues whatsoever, the usability of any program would soon approach zero. How do you know how to use a program that doesn't clue you about it?

i am impressed.... (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799975)

....35 comments and not a single gaffa tape joke.

phew, my faith in /. remains

Re:i am impressed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19800489)

It's called "gaffer tape," you retarded faggot.

Re:i am impressed.... (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800695)

ah, there we go, faith in /. back to normal.


Misses the point (4, Insightful)

i am kman (972584) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800083)

I doubt most folks would disagree with that for basic word processing, power computer users (which includes 98% of /. readers) often prefer memorizing tons of secret key strokes over using the mouse. Duh. But for folks that don't live and breath these apps, mouse-driven menus at least let folks easily access EVERYTHING.

The issue is that it's inefficient to switch between multiple input devices so one should design GUIs that allow users to go with the flow rather than forcing them to constantly switch in the middle of their workflow. But the article obsesses with trying to argue that the keyboard is far superior to the mouse rather than saying the keyboard is better for applications that focus on text entry.

Try creating Powerpoint slides without a mouse - or navigating the web - or playing games - or anything except for text-entry centric apps. It's a ridiculous premise to argue that the mouse is obsolete.

Re:Misses the point (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800525)

You are not suggesting keyboards are obsolete because the mouse is essential for power point slide creation, right? He is not saying the mouse is obsolete. Just that it is not the best user interface under all circumstances. Goes on to list when it is appropriate to use the keyboard.

No, you miss the point (1)

kuactet (1017816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800701)

The problem with your suggestion is that Powerpoint is designed to be used with a mouse.

The guy has a point and a 1/2 (5, Interesting)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800329)

He basically has two ideas. One of which is BRILLIANT, the other is questionable.

Idea 1: Hide the non-essential icons/user interface tools behind a control key

That idea is brilliant in my opinion. Take the Internet Browser. When reading the pages on the internet you do NOT need the three or four or more menu bars. When you add in the file set, my links, the back etc., the address bar, and any google/yahoo/ etc. menu bar, that can add up to quite a lot of space not always neccessary. I have two hands, I see no reason why we can not implement his concept of HIDING that all away until you press the Control key.

Idea 2: Making all those controls key controlled. Now, I am in favor of more/better key commands. But honestly, I see no reason not to also button up those same commands. If we write "Alt-S: Save document" then why not draw a line around it and allow a mouse click as an alternate way to save the document.

Re:The guy has a point and a 1/2 (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800705)

Unfortunately the links were down by the time I saw the slashdot article.

I feel so-so about hiding things. I hate the "Hide the _ characters 'til I hold the alt-key paradigm", because it slows me down, I can't start scanning for shortcuts 'til my finger is on the button and in general having the underlined characters there reminds me of the functionality.

I do like windows start menu, and the division of "current tasks" vs "tasks you can start" that Mac lacks... in general Windows has better kbd accelerators than Mac, IMO

A fine blend (2, Insightful)

British (51765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800339)

For me, the quickest path is a nice fine blend of keyboard & mouse. I find myself using the keyboard much more often than the mouse though.

The one thing I realized I can't live without is the mouse wheel. That saves quite a bit of clicking over to the scrollbar arrows, etc. Sadly, it's not supported everywhere, even in 2007. Windows' Remote Desktop often filters it out on scrollbars, which makes kitty unhappy.

Sadly, my middle mouse button(scrollwheel) doesn't close firefox tabs in my newer Logitech & MS mouse like my old MS Intellimouse Explorer used to. that saved me a lot of rt click & close tab actions. The mice made today have a much stiffer wheel that doesn't adapt to your finger over time.

Fast learn versus productivity (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800431)

I will agree that mousing can make apps easier to learn, but not necessarily easier to use. I've seen some well-designed CUI (character-based) designs that allowed great user efficiency. It just took a little longer to learn. For example, finding something in a list of titles. I would rather let the computer do the searching rather than my eyes, for I am not a speed reader. I would rather type "f abc" at a command line, which means "find the substring "abc", than read each entry.

When mice go byebye (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19800639)

I'm still waiting for them to develop the system that tracks eye movements, and just put left click / right click on the keyboard. Until, i'll be using my mouse, which I had to start using after getting my butt kicked in quake II...
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