File drop popup menu removal

Michael Pyne pynm0001 at
Fri Sep 10 01:54:41 BST 2004

On Tuesday 07 September 2004 02:52 pm, Kenneth Wimer wrote:
> I think that we should think of this in it's real life equivalents:
> If I pick up an object, let us say a stone, and put it somewhere else,
> it is being moved and no copies of this object will be created. This is
> behavior that everyone can appreciate because it is the way the world
> already works.

Sorry about the late reply to this, but a user interface design book I have 
includes an interesting section on animism with machine interfaces which I 
think is enlightening.  Basically, designers over the centuries have tried to 
design machines that resemble the living things they are supposed to be 
imitating, such as bird-shaped planes and the human shaped robots.  These 
designs almost always turn out to be useless, because it ignores the fact 
that machines are *not* alive or organic in any way.

By all this, I mean to say that it doesn't make a lot of sense to speak of 
real-life equivalents to drag-and-drop.  Designing machines to imitate their 
real-life equivalent has often proven disastrous, and designing user 
interfaces can easily turn out just as bad if we're not careful.  If you're 
going to pick a metaphor for your design, you need to be consistent of 
course.  But you also have to be realistic.

IMHO having a default action of move for dragging-and-dropping files *just 
because* that's the way it works in real life is worse than useless, because 
then people will expect KDE to be consistent with a metaphor that it can't 
possibly match.  After all, you can drag-and-drop windows to move them 
(dragging on the title bar), but they don't fall down and break when you let 
go.  They stay attached to where you moved them.

Although I was uncomfortable with the menu popup at first because I was 
familiar with the Windows method, I do think it is a better idea to make it 
popup by default, especially with the keyboard accelerators listed.

Sorry about the late reply, I just today got Internet access back after the 
damage we suffered from Frances.

 - Michael Pyne
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