2.5 cursor change

Dan Shafer revdan at danshafer.com
Sat Jul 31 12:27:21 CDT 2004

I've hesitated to weigh in on this one, in part because I wasn't sure 
how I felt about it and in part because I'm probably an atypical 
developer on some level. But as I've thought about it, I've decided 
that I'm not so atypical that the perspective I bring to the table -- 
namely, that of a Gray-Haired Developer -- shouldn't be heard.

In the IDE, I think moving away from the "Mickey hand" and to a more 
common and "traditional" pointer was probably a good move. I suspect it 
makes Revolution look a little less like a toy to some professional 
coders. The problem I have with the way it's been implemented in 2.5 is 

First, it forces me to swap my thinking. The plain arrow, which was the 
selection tool until now, suddenly has a completely different job to 
do. This makes me think about what "mode" I'm in and, as Jeanne has 
already properly pointed out, if I have to stop and think about what 
I'm doing, what tool I'm using, then there is a definite and serious 
usability problem. If the switch had been to something different from 
the old selection arrow, I think it would have been much less jarring 
and generated less commentary.

Second, the difference between the arrow cursor and the selection arrow 
-- the inclusion of a small cross in the latter -- is just not obvious 
to old eyes like mine. Because the most obvious portion of the 
selection tool -- at least for me -- is the arrow point, it is not 
immediately obvious at a glance which tool I'm using.

In my standalone applications, there are two situations in which the 
cursor choice plays a role and I'm always going to come down on the 
side of design that says: (a) the default should make sense to most 
people; and (b) the developer can override the default without jumping 
through a bunch of hoops. I've spent a lot of time with various apps 
today and my conclusion is that most applications don't change cursors 
very often at all. In fact, I'm starting to think this is an area of UI 
design that could benefit from overall improvement. But, whereas most 
apps use the arrow most of the time, it seems that most apps that use 
the notion of hyperlinks generally change the cursor to a pointing 
finger when it's over linkable text. If that is indeed the convention, 
then Rev should make it as easy as possible for me as a developer to 
create standalones that conform to that convention. That means, I 
think, that we need two default cursors for each app, one for regular 
interaction and one for link connection.

Dan Shafer, Revolutionary
Author of  "Revolution: Software at the Speed of Thought"
http://www.revolutionpros.com for more info
Available at Runtime Revolution Store (http://www.runrev.com/RevPress)

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