Inappropriate mouse behavior...

Jan Schenkel janschenkel at
Mon Nov 18 17:42:01 EST 2002

--- Igor de Oliveira Couto <info at>
> [snip]
> A user might press down on button1, realise that
> they intended to 
> actually press button 2, and without letting go off
> the mouse, move 
> over to the appropriate button and let go there.
> This is, INDEED, 
> coherent with Apple's interface guidelines and their
> principle of 
> 'forgiveness'. Menus behave that way, and several
> multimedia-style 
> applications that I've come across DO have buttons
> that behave this 
> way, indeed. Think about it, and you will see that
> it makes sense.

Hi Igor,

At the risk of adding fuel to the UI wars, just a few
The principle of 'forgiveness' applies IMO more to the
ability of a user to 'back out' of a situation by
moving his mouse out of the control and resting
assured nothing bad is going to happen.
If I were in an application where i'd have to be
carefull where I leave my mouse in case i want to
avoid an action, I wouldn't dare to click anymore.

> What does not make sense is for me to be able to
> have a mouse button 
> DOWN over a clickable area WITHOUT any response from
> the system.

Let go of the mouse and start a new action. Much more
intuitive for the average user.

> You are quite entitled to disagree, and the world
> will be a richer 
> place for it. After all, being able to give users
> OPTIONS is what it is 
> all about, isn't it? If you want to program your
> interface to have a 
> certain kind of functionality, you should be able to
> do so - and so 
> should I. Right now, however, Revolution is
> 'forcing' us to have a 
> specific type of functionality, which I do not want.

While it is desirable that developers have as much
freedom as possible, we should make sure not to stray
too far from the environment the user has come to
As a developer of business applications, I find that
users already have a different mindset than
programmers to begin with, so what is logical to us
might prove very confusing to them.
Likewise, they want to get on with the job instead of
having to think 'oh, wait, what did I have to do again
in this program?' -- then we're back to DOS and the
days before consistent GUI-design.
And to people who already have to combine different
programs like Excel, Word, PowerPoint and a set of
administrative applications with legacy interfaces, a
common ground is a life-saver.

Does this mean we shouldn't step in and try to come up
with new ways that might make it easier for the user
to accomplish his or her goals?
Of course not, quite the opposite in fact. Here's an
example where I deviate from the standard behaviour:
I have combo-boxes where the first character is a
number, followed by a space, a dash, a space and the
full-length explanation of that option.
When the user starts typing, I mimic Excel's auto-fill
behaviour and show the rest of the text of that item,
selecting all the text behind what was just typed.
The result? The user can 'type' a code he/she has
known for years, whereas the novice can 'pick' an item
from the list, and start to remember the codes without
being forced to remember them all at once.
Standard behaviour? No, merely trying to bridge the
gap without alienating either type of user. And they
appreciate it a lot.

> Once again, thank you for your feedback.

Hope you didn't mind me tossing in my two euro-cents,

> Kind Regards,
> --
> Igor de Oliveira Couto

Best regards,

Jan Schenkel.

"As we grow older, we grow both wiser and more foolish at the same time."  (La Rochefoucauld)

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