Proposal for a better mouse selection in text fields

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at
Tue Dec 16 08:38:39 PST 2014

Hash: SHA1

Robin Dinse wrote on 08/12/14 05:15:
> Hello XDG maintainers and list.
> I have a proposal for improving the text field UI element.  I hope 
> this list is the right place to bring it up.

This list is for discussion of things that help platforms
interoperate. Precise behavior of text fields doesn't really fall into
that category.

> First of all, I don’t know whether this behavior is already 
> implemented somewhere or whether it is even patented.  I couldn’t 
> find anything about it in a quick search.

It's implemented in VCL (as used in LibreOffice), iOS, Android, and
Windows Phone.

> Anyway, here is what I mean:
> The problem is that one can select the individual letters of the 
> text field only within the narrow region highlighted in the upper 
> picture. Beyond this region the selection gets extended either all 
> the way to the left or to the right.  Staying within this region 
> requires precise movements both vertically and horizontally which 
> seems to be sub-optimal from a usability point of view.
> ...

It's a tradeoff. What's the most useful thing for dragging above/below
the field to do? The designers of GTK, Qt, OS X, and the Mozilla
toolkit think the most useful thing is to select to the beginning/end
of the field respectively. The designers of VCL, iOS, Android, and
Windows Phone think it's to continue adjusting the selection character
by character. The tradeoff may be different for pointer input vs. touch.

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