[Bf-funboard] Mouse versus hot keys

Jason van Gumster flaw at misaligned.net
Wed Feb 18 02:36:18 CET 2009

I apologize in advance for being a bit rambling here...

Roger <hovergo at net-tech.com.au> wrote:

> I see no merit in relating new concepts for improvement to existing
> ways because if the existing ways were the best then there would be
> no requests for improvement.

It's probably a mistake to assume that there *is* a generalized "best
way" that accommodates every user (or even most users). Existing ways
are here for two reasons:

  1) They've developed by way of revision over time as an effective and
     efficient methodology.

  2) They exist as a largely unchanged legacy that is not necessarily
     effective nor efficient, but comfortable nonetheless (e.g. QWERTY).

The challenge is to keep as many #1 methods as possible (and enhance
them) while finding ways to revise #2 methods without making it too
disorienting or uncomfortable. While it's nice to develop new concepts
and methods that are outside of these two types of pre-existing
methods, you're ultimately going to have collisions that will need
reconciling. Wholesale dumping "old" paradigms in favor of "new" ones is
akin to throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Now, I understand
that you're hinting at a slow-trickle migration, but there's a problem
with that (for this particular case) which I will address shortly.

While obviously don't want to have our hands tied by legacy concepts, I
think there's an inherent flaw in assuming that all requests for
improvement will actually yield an improvement in usability.
Furthermore, quite a few requests for improvement would be better
classified as requests for documentation.

> I have previously discussed that universities use and  teach on
> graphics tablets, the mouse and keyboard are things of the past.

This is something that you've mentioned repeatedly here and I cannot
help but [mostly] disagree with you. It's a fallacy to believe that the
mouse and keyboard are bygone interface paradigms... especially in lieu
of the tablet-only interface you are apparently espousing. Graphics
tablets are sure to see greater usage in the future, but they are not
the ultimate interface you seem to be describing them as.

Furthermore, bear in mind Blender's userbase. While many of us have
exceedingly powerful machines and useful interfaces such as the
SpaceNavigator and graphics tablets, quite a large number of our users
(both professional and non-professional) are using Blender for financial
reasons and cannot afford expensive (albeit very cool and useful)
hardware. For these users, a $10 mouse beats a $100 tablet any day of
the week. Disregarding these users would be a mistake.

But allow me to digress and present a simple use-case. Let's take the
idea of eschewing the keyboard and mouse completely in favor of a
tablet. If you were to take the amount of functionality that's quickly
accessible via keyboard+mouse and attempt to access it only by tablet,
you would have a set of commands and gestures that would be just as
convoluted and obtuse as the current model, if not moreso. What
usability issues have we solved? We've simply transplanted the UI
problems from one place to another.

Now, this is not to say that there aren't improvements that could be
made to better facilitate tablet users. However, I'm of the opinion
that a blanket declaration that the mouse will be replaced by the
graphics tablet is greatly mistaken. I have both a mouse and a tablet
and there are different tasks that I prefer to do in each. And
regardless of which of those two devices I use for pointing, neither
can replace the speed and accessibility of hotkeys.


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