Reorderer behaviour

Gary Thompson gary at
Thu Sep 4 17:46:34 UTC 2008


I'm cc'ing fluid-work so everyone can appreciate the questions and 
digest the responses.

Great questions.  The goal is to create an intuitive, elegant design, so 
questioning the behavior is warranted if it seems to not match your 

As Colin mentioned, the Reorder - and thus the Layout Customizer - are 
currently moving targets.  The target movement was initiated from the 
user testing done on the first integration environment, which reported 
unusable response and behavior.  Refer to the user testing results:

Three comments:

1. Context is king.
How drag and drop behaves will be specific to context.  The examples on 
the Layout Customizer springboard:

...actually represent something closer to list reordering, which by 
context will have a different behavior.  What most currently represents 
the Layout Customizer, is the uPortal integration here:

2. The grab handle can be defined.
And is defined to be just the portlet title bar in the Layout Customizer 
integration in uPortal (rather than the whole portlet).  This should 
help alleviate the confusion of location of the drag avatar to cursor, 
though we may find in further testing that that is still an issue.

3. The drag avatar may need to be minimized in uPortal.
The size of a portlet in uPortal is highly variable, and user testing 
has already uncovered the unwieldiness of large portlets being dragged 
in a preview mode.  It may turn out that for uPortal, we revert to an 
earlier design that more closely resembled the Yahoo behavior at the 
time - a small grey box as the drag avatar, and a non-preview, colored 
line as the drop indicator.


Paul Zablosky wrote:
> I have been playing with the reorderer examples on the daily build 
> page <> and getting a feel for the 
> behaviour of the avatars and the targets.  The behaviour is not quite 
> what I expect as I move things around, and I'm wondering whether I'm 
> taking an idiosyncratic view of things.  The problem is that the drop 
> target doesn't seem to appear where I expect it to.  I position the 
> avatar squarely over where I want to move the element, and yet the 
> target is one position off to the left  or right (or above or 
> below).   I have to move the avatar farther than (I feel) should be 
> necessary to get the target to appear where I want it. It makes the 
> whole interaction sort of weirdly sticky for me.  What it comes down 
> to is that I feel I should be able to predict where the target 
> appears, and I can't. At first I thought that this was just a 
> performance issue, but now I know what causes it.
> Here's the explanation.  What I'm trying to do is position the avatar 
> where I want to drop the element, but the target isn't following the 
> avatar.  The target follows the /pointer/.  So with a fairly large 
> avatar -- such as a portlet window, or  a multi-line list element, it 
> makes a huge difference where I grab the element.  If I grab the top 
> edge of the list element, the target will appear in relation to the 
> top edge of the avatar.  If I grab the bottom edge, the target follows 
> the position of the bottom. 
> But I never pay attention to where I grab the thing.  My eyes are 
> tracking the outline of the avatar, and I sort of expect the target to 
> appear where I have the avatar centred -- and that's not happening.
> So it raises the question in my mind.  Is it just me, or do others 
> have the same experience of the movements of the screen objects not 
> quite following their expectations?
> Of course my experience means nothing.  I know that we can only settle 
> an issue like this with user testing.  So here's the real question: Do 
> users have the idea that they are influencing the position of the drop 
> target by the location of the avatar, or do they have the feeling they 
> are shoving it around with the pointer, while ignoring the outlines of 
> the avatar?  And do we have any user testing results or research data 
> (possibly from some outside source) that can tell us this?
> I spent a little time this afternoon trying to train myself to be a 
> better drag-and-dropper, using the four reorderer examples 
> <> -- either centring the pointer 
> carefully on the element I'm grabbing, or following the pointer image 
> rather than the avatar outline.  I'm learning, but it doesn't feel 
> quite natural.
> Comments?  Am I marching to a completely off-the-beat drummer here?
> Regards to all,
> Paul

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