Keyboard shortcuts (was Re: PATCH: bug 76293 and bug 48317)

mån 2002-04-29 klockan 21.59 skrev Alex Larsson:
> > > > Here's an Idea, why dont i make go forward and up all use alt-arrow
> > > > keys. And than duplicate can use ctl+U, that will now be available since
> > > > up will use alt+up not ctl+u
> > > > 
> > > > would that be ok
> > > 
> > > I don't like Alt-Up,
> > 
> > It does go along quite well with the use of Alt+Back and Alt+Forward for
> > Back and Forward. Easy to remember, since it would then make use of
> > previous experience with the navigational shortcuts and use the same
> > scheme.
> >
> > > I prefer Ctrl-<letter> for common operations, since 
> > > they are faster to use,
> > 
> > Easy remembering should be the most important issue. A "fast" shortcut
> > makes no sense if it requires re-learning to be able to use it.
> Who says that should be the most important issue?

I do. A keybinding that you a) won't find out or b) requires you to
re-learn all your previous knowledge about that particular keybinding or
its associated action is either a) completely useless or b) largely
useless. In any case, it's frustrating.
In my book, that far outweighs any drawbacks about which key is a couple
of milliseconds faster to hit or not.
The exception is of course shortcuts that are hard or impossible to type
(like Ctrl+Esc+ScrollLock+F6), but that's a completely different issue,
and not the case here.

> If you want easy to remember you use the menus or the toolbar. Keyboard
> shortcuts are a way for users used to a piece of software to quickly
> do an operation. 

Replace "piece of software" with "similar piece of software". That's the
whole reason keyboard shortcuts are specified in the HIG -- to enable
users used to some software to re-use their knowledge in another similar
application, without having to learn different keybindings for the same
actions in all possible software that they happen to use. If shortcuts
were only to be used for those who have used the same software for
several months and never use anything else, we would have the situation
you describe where the shortcuts chosen in the application didn't matter
1) Nautilus is not Emacs (I.e. Nautilus is not an operating system and
it would surprise me if Nautilus users never use any Gnome software
besides Nautilus). Thus it is important to harmonize with other Gnome
2) Gnome is not the only desktop environment. Some Gnome users happen to
use KDE software or other software on occasion. Thus it is important to
harmonize with other desktop environments, like for example KDE,
Windows, MacOS etc., so as to not be different on purpose and make
things harder when it doesn't have to be.

And no, people used to a particular application are not the only ones
that use keyboard shortcuts and need easy access to those. Keyboard
shortcuts are as important as an easy way to control the application
from the keyboard (opening menus and selecting menu items by keyboard is
a verly slow and tiresome action, especially when having to do it
repeatedly). You don't need to have months of previous experience with
Nautilus to appreciate good keyboard control of it when you start using

Think of an example where file manager A implements the "Delete" action
as "Ctrl+D" instead of "Delete" as used in at least one other popoular
environment. User Bob, who happens to run Gnome on his machine and
doesn't have lots of experience with it, has mistakenly created 1024
nested directories in his home folder and doesn't manage to get rid of
them in Nautilus. He asks for assistance from coworker Jane who happens
to be a very skilled computer user who uses that other popular
environment. She leans over his shoulder, selects the root directory,
and instintively hits "Delete", which of course doesn't work. And that's
not Jane's fault.

The key here is, as said, "used to a similar piece of software".

> > > and more "normal".
> > 
> > I'm not sure I understand this particular comment. Could you please
> > elaborate?
> All our other shortcuts use Ctrl. Alt is normally used for menus and 
> mnemonics. I guess since it's a non-alphanumeric key it can't collide with 
> those though.

Exactly, which is the main reason Alt isn't recommended as a general
shortcut key in the HIG. But that problem simply doesn't apply here.

That's probably also why many (most?) other comparable applications and
environments are able to use this keyboard shortcut scheme for
navigation keyboard shortcuts.


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