Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 11th Nov 2007 15:52 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces This is the fifth article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms [part I | part II | part III | part IV]. On the internet, and especially in forum discussions like we all have here on OSNews, it is almost certain that in any given discussion, someone will most likely bring up usability and GUI related terms - things like spatial memory, widgets, consistency, Fitts' Law, and more. The aim of this series is to explain these terms, learn something about their origins, and finally rate their importance in the field of usability and (graphical) user interface design. In part V, we focus on modes.
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shift, caps lock, and usability
by RandomGuy on Sun 11th Nov 2007 18:34 UTC
RandomGuy
Member since:
2006-07-30

I think this might be yet another issue that confuses new computer users but is actually helpful for pros.
Ok, modal dialogs _are_ evil in that they limit what you can do without any reason.

But I think we shouldn't focus too much on the disgusting caps lock key. It's not annoying because you have no idea what's going on, it's annoying because 99.9% of the time you hit it by accident. This particular issue stems from the stupid keyboard layout rather than from the modal nature of the key itself. People wouldn't hate it so very much if it had a size and position like one of the function keys.
Instead it sits right there on your beautiful home row, along with keys you use at least a million times more often.

But I think modes per se are a good thing even if they cause mode errors from time to time.
Having no modes at all is like cramming all functions of a programming language into a single namespace.
It means that the individual identifiers/actions need to be more complicated - either just plain longer or you need to use quasimodes like "escape meta alt control shift", a term used to ridicule emacs.

I haven't used emacs or vim nearly enough to decide which is saner but I am constantly annoyed by the damn shift key. The problem is that I stop pressing the shift key long before the other finger can reach any of the non home row buttons and it only gets worse with time. I guess my brain is just hopelessly modal and I cannot get used to holding down the shift key for so long. So if anybody knows, please tell me:
Is there any way to alter the function of the shift key so that you don't have to hold it down while typing the character that you want to be uppercase?
Not like the damn caps lock, mind you, it should only turn the very next character into uppercase, not everything you type after pressing it.

Edited 2007-11-11 18:35 UTC

Reply Score: 2