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Issue 4.6

COLUMN

Drag, Drop, and Roll

How to add a huge amount of functionality with no bloat

Issue: 4.6 (July/August 2006)
Author: Toby Rush
Author Bio: Toby Rush is a music instructor, consultant, freelance programmer, web designer, husband and Dad in Greeley, Colorado.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 10,167
Starting Page Number: 44
Article Number: 4618
Related Link(s): None

Excerpt of article text...

Drag and drop -- the act of "picking up" an object with the mouse and placing it in or on something else -- is one of the most fundamental concepts in the Macintosh interface as well as most other graphical user interfaces. Whenever objects -- virtual or otherwise -- are represented as something that can be "held" and "moved around" by the user, the interface becomes easier to use by leaps and bounds.

An excellent example of this is an icon-based file system. In reality, files are nothing more than patterns of magnetic particles stored on the disk. Worse yet, these patterns may be scattered across the disk in multiple places. The concept of directories or folders actually has nothing to do with the location of the file itself, but is instead a virtual reference to it in the disk's directory system. This is a needlessly complex paradigm for the user to wrap their brain around.

However, when files are represented as icons and directories are represented as folders and windows, even the novice user is empowered. Moving a file from one directory to another does not require the user to think about file references or directory structures; she need only drag the icon into the appropriate window.

...End of Excerpt. Please purchase the magazine to read the full article.