“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Functioning Form – Bringing Desktop Interactions Online

Luke W, writes about bringing desktop interactions to the online platform. I don’t want to completely re-iterate the article. The juxt of what I got from it is that there are patterns of interaction that do not translate directly into the web space, but the goals of these interactions are necessary and through some tweaking similar models can be webified.

There were a few examples presented by Luke that I’m not so sure I buy as even being necessary to tweak, or actually they have limitations and ramifactions.

The two main items center around multiple section of items and direct action on selected items.

multiple selection
Luke, rightly, points out the difficulty involved in visualizing multiple selection and I would say this is regardless of platform. Where I disagree with Luke is in his handling of the problem (or at least his lauding of solutions he has seen. Both solutions he presents add elements to the screen, which I find problematic in and of itself, but there is also this underlying assumption that we can’t just bring the desktop directly to the Internet platform. This assumption is not quite sold well-enough to me.

Direct action on selectable items
This is mostly again me not necessarily buying into the problem completely. The problem that I do see with multi-select in a web platform is that if you select without an added widget. It seems that combining a desktop metaphor where single-click is select and double-click is “open” or “edit”. Windows itself found interesting ways to deal w/ this, but only through the use of keyboard interactions and or selection through using a mouse to “rope” selected items. Again, the web solutions offerred require additional elements on the screen.

The other thing that bothers me about these solutions is that they also don’t offer actions on multiple selected items. And how many actions you can do on any single item is also very limited.

Luke, any thoughts regarding these issues?

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  • http://www.lukew.com LukeW

    Hi Dave,
    To answer your questions -I don’t think the Basecamp or RememberTheMilk solutions are solving the problem. My point for showing those examples is to point out the way Web application designers are struggling to put these types of interactions online. The exmaples aren’t there yet- but they do higlight the fact that these interactions are needed.

    From the usability testing I’ve seen at Yahoo! and eBay, people just don’t that things like drag and drop are possible- much less multi-select and right click. As a result, there’s a lot of messaging that currently happens in the UI. Ideally, we don’t need that. Trust me, I am the last one to suggest adding something to an interface design. Bottom line is we need some effective transitions to get these concpets into Web apps- i tihnk we are just seeing the start of these. Lots more to come…


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