modifier-only shortcuts

Thomas Zander zander at
Thu Jul 6 20:25:38 BST 2006

On Thursday 6 July 2006 21:02, Andriy Rysin wrote:
> Thomas Zander wrote:
> > On Thursday 6 July 2006 15:55, Andriy Rysin wrote:
> >> There's one very often requested feature for keyboard layout
> >> switcher - to be able to use modifier-only shortcut for switching
> >> layouts. E.g. Alt+Shift or Ctrl+Shift like it is on Windows.
> >
> > Doing so will disable a _lot_ of potential shortcuts to be used by
> > others. That and the fact that its really bad usability to stray from
> > the rule that a 'normal' key should always be included in the
> > shortcut.
> >
> > See for a related issue:
> 1) it's not a single key shortcut, so it's not completely applicable to
> the related issue you've posted above - I'd agree that one key shortcut
> is bad/dangerous but two modifier keys don't have problems described in
> the link

I described that in the part above. Having a 'normal' key in there is the 
rule. The modifiers are to get more combinations. Using only the 
modifiers (even if its two instead of one) breaks the rule and therefor 
breaks consistency.  Breaking consistency means users will sometimes see 
unexpected results and stop trusting the system.
Everything breaks down from that point on.
This is why usability people hammer so much on consistency.
Picture a sweaty guy on stage yelling 'Consistency' for 10 minutes :)

> 2) catching e.g. Ctrl+Shift not gonna affect _any_ derivative
> shortcuts, as it'll be activated only if you press and RELEASE
> ctrl+shift, if you press ctrl+shift+a it'll go through to corresponding
> handler
Sounds confusing for people that use sticky keys.

> 3) thousands (millions?) people use those combinations on windows and
> even X (check xkb options for switching groups) and they don't
> complain, instead I see people complain about kxkb

Have you ever seen people complain about inconsistency? Most people blame 
themselves for being stupid users.  Reading 'The inmates are running the 
asylum' would be a good thing at this time ;)

> 4) the only problem with two modifiers is if you were thinking pressing
> e.g. ctrl+shift+a and then changed your mind before pressing 3d key - I
> occasionly get into that situation - in this case I have to press it
> again to switch back to my original layout - but this is not special -
> I occasionly get into similar situation by holding Shift for 8 secs
> thinking :)

So, basically you are saying that since something else is broken its OK to 
add another broken thing? I Hope not!
The 'holding shift' was something else that the usability team convinced 
KDE to disable by default. The other part of your reply is very true; it 
will go wrong. Think about _why_ in light of my points above.
Now imagine this happening to someone who has no idea what just happened, 
and will probably be lost for quite some time. Most likely rebooting, I 
just hope the setting is not persistent ;-)

> 5) now the main agrument for things like Ctrl+Shift is convinience
> Now imaging that you used to do that with two adjucent fingers and now
> you have to use Ctrl+Alt+K taking two hands(!!!).
I feel their pain; really. But this is a worse default for a lot of 
reasons. I mean; even ctrl-alt-x is better for you.
There are a lot of possible combinations between a 2-hands shortcut and a 
modifier-only combination.

I suggest you come up with one that works for you the people you share 
this problem with. Please note that the Ctrl-Alt-K is also something that 
can be changed by you, so please experiment and let your friends 
experiment. And let us know what works best.
Thomas Zander
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