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

On 29 Apr 2002, Christian Rose wrote:

> 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.

Why would you need to re-learn this keybinding (Ctrl-U)? No other app uses 
the other one (Alt-Up). If anything you need to re-learn it if we change 
it and you're used to what nautilus does currently.
> > 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
> much.
> But:
> 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
> software.

But I don't know any other Gnome app that has a Go up keyboard shortcut. 
What software is it that you think we should harmonize it with?

> 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
> it.

You don't have to tell me keyboard shortcuts are good. And I agree with 
you that consistancy is good. But consistancy is not everything. 
Other things needs to be taken into consideration. For instance. CTRL-D is 
delete in Windows Explorer (and IE in non-browser mode), Add Bookmark in 
IE (in browser mode) and Mozilla, and Duplicate in previous versions of 
Nautilus, and i bet something else on Mac. Both delete and duplicate are 
reasonably common tasks for a file manager, while adding bookmarks is 
quite uncommon.

Now, what do you want to be consistant with? Do we pick the same as 
the most used of the other apps, or do we pick the one that would be most 
useful operation for the Nautilus? Always using the "most consistant" 
one will, I believe, lead to a bad product. On the other hand, never 
doing things consistantly is clearly also bad.

I've given this some though, and in the end I think we should make CTRL-D 
be "add a new bookmark", since duplication is a pretty uncommon action 
that can also be done with copy+paste, and delete is mapped to the delete 
key, which seems more natural.

But I don't really like this, because it makes Nautilus less of a file 
manager and more of a webbrowser, and that is the opposite of the 
direction I have in mind for Nautilus. So, in this case we let consistancy 
with other not-entierly-similar apps win over the conceptual integrity (or 
whatever) and usefullnes of Nautilus the file manager.

> 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".
So what do we do when we can't be identical to every other piece of 
similar software? 
> > 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.

Does any other app use Alt-Up for "Go up"?
It's not an unreasonable choice though.

 Alexander Larsson                                            Red Hat, Inc 
                   alexl redhat com    alla lysator liu se 
He's an otherworldly guitar-strumming matador with a winning smile and a way 
with the ladies. She's a blind bisexual snake charmer trying to make a 
difference in a man's world. They fight crime! 

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