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Re: Linking Manipulate to arrow keys?

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  • Subject: [mg101881] Re: [mg101839] Linking Manipulate to arrow keys?
  • From: John Fultz <jfultz at>
  • Date: Mon, 20 Jul 2009 19:20:37 -0400 (EDT)
  • Reply-to: jfultz at

On Sun, 19 Jul 2009 07:13:37 -0400 (EDT), AES wrote:
> Any simple way to link the "+" and "-" (Step Forward and Step Backward)
> buttons in a discrete (or even continuous) Manipulation to the Right
> Arrow and Left Arrow keys on your keyboard?
> [These arrow keys are so ubiquitous on standard keyboards, and using
> them for forward and backward stepping is so ubiquitous in so many other
> applications, that I'm a bit surprised this isn't the default behavior
> for Manipulate.]

If the presence of a Manipulate were to steal the focus of the entire 
application, I'd be inclined to agree with you.  But recall that it's
still part of a fully interactive and editable document.  the arrow keys
are still useful for editing and selection, both outside and inside the
Manipulate.  Examples inside the Manipulate include the InputFields
driving the sliders and the actual content of the Manipulate.

Also, it would be awkward if you had multiple sliders...which slider are you
presently changing?

One reasonable and non-confusing way to do something like this would be to 
support keyboard focus on the controls directly.  This is done obviously and
ubiquitously in standard dialog box interfaces under Windows/X, and is also
possible on the Mac (although I believe you may have to turn on some sort of
special accessibility mode to affect sliders and such).  This is certainly 
something we're interested in incorporating into Mathematica-generated UIs 
(including, but not limited to, Manipulate), but I can't guarantee when
you'll see it happen.

John Fultz
jfultz at
User Interface Group
Wolfram Research, Inc.

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