Monday, 14 September 2015

Mouse Marksmanship

I'm going to have a little rant now. Apologies to all!

WHY do our computers still require "mouse marksmanship"? You know the problem: where you have to spend ages waving the cursor around and over a thin line of pixels, until the cursor finally changes to a double-headed arrow, and you can grab and drag the item - perhaps a wall between two panes in a program's window. Or where there are several tightly-packed buttons and, unless you're accurate, you click the wrong one...with disastrous effects?

Touch-screen interfaces are no better. In fact, they're worse, since fingers are even less accurate than mice or trackpads, and - worse still - they obscure the user interface (UI) elements they're supposed to be interacting with!

I mean...seriously...why is this still a thing? We're perfectly capable of designing operating system interfaces, and applications, that can make sensible guesses as to the user's intention. We can create UI elements that don't need this kind of fine movement requirement - frustrating even to regular users; literally impossible for some to use.

"Mouse marksmanship" makes the whole thing hostile to anyone with a hand tremor, anyone with co-ordination issues or some classes of disability, anyone with even moderate visual difficulties - and everyone else, too.

It's just crap. It's decades-old design, inherited from the 1973 Xerox Alto, and we need to get past it.

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