Lightbox: Cut and Paste / Drag and Drop

Michael S Elledge elledge at
Wed Jun 6 17:04:31 UTC 2007

I wasn't on the call, but here my thoughts are below. Hope they are helpful.


Shaw-Han Liem wrote:
> Hi Everyone,
> We had a talk yesterday at the ATRC about the keyboard-only  
> interaction for the Lightbox component. The idea came up that we  
> should perhaps use the 'cut and paste' metaphor for the keyboard  
> shortcuts (as this interaction is already familiar to most users), and  
> this raised a few questions.
I think this is better both because it is both more familiar and easier 
to implement.
> Our understanding is that there are two elements to the 'cut and  
> paste' idea: the keyboard interaction (i.e. the standard CTRL-X,  
> CTRL-V keyboard shortcuts), and the visual response (cutting and  
> pasting text in a word processor is an example of this - the text  
> disappears when cut, you move a cursor to a new spot, and then paste  
> it).
> Currently, our keyboard interaction is based the 'drag and drop'  
> metaphor (user holds CTRL to 'pick up' and image, and then the arrow  
> keys to 'drag' to a new spot). Similarly, our visual design for  
> keyboard-only interactions is very close to the design for mouse-based  
> drag and drop (i.e. when and object is 'picked up' it remains on the  
> screen as a 'ghost', and the ghost becomes a preview for the new  
> placement).
> So the question was: If we do decide to implement the added  
> 'cut/paste' keyboard shortcuts, does it make sense to change the  
> visual design and behaviour so that it more closely follows the 'cut  
> and paste' convention (for example, when you "cut" an image, it would  
> disappear and be replaced by a 'cursor' until it is pasted again).
 From a usability standpoint, the keyboard actions should mirror the 
visual ones. Whether someone is using the mouse or the keyboard, you 
want their physical actions to be mirrored visually.
> Alernately, does it make sense to use the cut/paste keyboard shortcuts  
> while keeping the current visual cues?
> Also, assuming we are able to capture events from the 'standard'  
> cut/paste keyboard shortcuts (i.e. CTRL-X, CTRL-V), should we also be  
> implementing other interactions such as undo (CTRL-Z) and copy  
> (CTRL-C). There are also further complications such as what happens  
> when the user cuts a thumbnail without placing the previous one, or  
> leaves the gallery tool without pasting?
My suggestion is you provide the same sequence of actions and 
consequences as they would find with other applications, like MS Word. 
Warn them if they have left something on the "Clipboard" if they are 
closing the application. Perhaps give them a message on succeeding pages 
that the item remains on the clipboard.

I would likewise mirror the keyboard shortcuts employed by MS Word.
> Hopefully I have explained the questions sufficiently... anyone who  
> was part of the meeting yesterday please feel free to jump in if I  
> haven't made things clear enough!
> Shaw-Han
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> fluid-work at
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