Reorderer behaviour -- more discussion

Justin justin.obara at
Wed Sep 10 13:30:58 UTC 2008


I have actually filed this as a bug Fluid-1335 ( 

It would be interesting to see which implementation users prefer.


On 9-Sep-08, at 2:55 PM, Paul Zablosky wrote:

> Thank you Gary.  One of the problems with this issue, is that we  
> don't really have a way to do comparison testing with users.  Now  
> that we're discussing this in the open fluid-work list, I can put a  
> question directly to the developers:
> Would it be possible to create a version of the reorderer that sets  
> the position of the drop target not with reference to the pointer  
> position, but with reference to the centre of gravity of the  
> avatar?  Since the avatar and pointer are locked together during the  
> drag, this would seem to me to be a simple fixed translation of  
> coordinates, but I don't know enough about the implementation  
> details to guess if it's easy or difficult.  Anyway, if we had such  
> a thing, we could easily do user testing to find out which they  
> preferred:
> targets that move with the pointer
> targets that move with the centre of the avatar
> I'm suggesting using the centre as tracking point, simply because  
> it's the most obvious alternative to following the cursor position.  
> There may be other loci that could be considered.
> I'll respond to Gary's responses within his message below.
> Paul
> Gary Thompson wrote:
>> Paul,
>> 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 expectations.
>> 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:
> I totally agree that context is king.  That's why I tried out all  
> the different examples of the reorderer on the demos page.  I found  
> that I had the same difficulty with all of them,  which led me to  
> think that the problem was below the application level.
>> 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.
> Yes, I noticed this.  It's harder to demonstrate with the Layout  
> Customizer because the grab area is smaller.  But you can show the  
> effect by grabbing at the left or right end of the grab area.  The  
> behaviour of the drop indicator is more consistent with a limited  
> grab area, but it still feels strange if the grab area is at the  
> edge of the element I'm grabbing.
> This of course gives us another thing to test.  Do users prefer to  
> have a large area where they can grab an element, or should it be  
> limited to a specific "grab me here" region?
>> 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.
> A smaller avatar might help, but I still think it skirts the issue  
> of where the drop indicator appears.
>> Gary
>> 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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