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Re: Mathematica behavior using highlighting and keyboard arrows - BUG???

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg98555] Re: Mathematica behavior using highlighting and keyboard arrows - BUG???
  • From: AES <siegman at stanford.edu>
  • Date: Sun, 12 Apr 2009 03:49:36 -0400 (EDT)
  • Organization: Stanford University
  • References: <grpii6$lqe$1@smc.vnet.net>

In article <grpii6$lqe$1 at smc.vnet.net>, Bob F <deepyogurt at gmail.com> 
wrote:

> I have been puzzled by the way that Mathematica handles highlighting
> when using the keyboard arrow keys. For example if the cursor is in an
> Input cell in the middle of any expression and you press and hold the
> Shift key and then press the right-arrow key to highlight each
> character for each press of the right-arrow key, and then if you
> accidently go one or more characters too far (the repeat rate of the
> key faster than my reaction time), and then I try and "back up" to the
> intended correct position by letting go of the right-arrow key and
> press the left-arrow key while still pressing the Shift, the
> highlighting is extended to the left of the original starting
> position, not the current position of the cursor, so instead of
> correcting the "overshoot" you end up with even more unwanted
> highlighted portion of an expression or text. And the most bizarre
> thing about this is that the behavior is different depending on
> whether it's a Text or an Input style cell, in that Input style cells
> do it this way and Text style cells do it as I would expect.

Without trying to argue which of the two alternative behaviors you 
describe here is "right" or "correct", I'd suggest that both can be 
useful or desirable in different situations and for different purposes; 
and it seems to me I've encountered both of them in different 
applications I've used.  One more example of the eternal conflict in 
attempting to induce or assist software developers and interface 
designers in achieving consistency or adhering to accepted standards, 
whether it's in behavior like this, or in the meanings attached to 
Cmd-key combinations, or other examples.  (I have apps in which ^D means 
Duplicate, others in which it means Delete -- obviously one wants to 
pause and think before using this keystroke shortcut!)

Just for historical interest, I'm looking right now at an attractive 
144-page softbound copy of Apple Computer's thoughtful 1987 manual on 
"Human Interface Guidelines: The Apple Desktop Interface" (published and 
sold through Addison-Wesley) that I just took down from my bookshelf.  
It includes about a dozen pages (and 30 index entries) on the topic of 
"Selection," that include much of what you discuss above.  Nice to know 
that software companies once thought carefully about these issues -- not 
to mention publishing them and living by them.


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