Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Keyboard equivalents

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I've written about this topic before and I may do it again as keyboard equivalents on OSX still don't seem to have sufficiently converged. That's a bad thing. Keyboard equivalents – or shortcuts – as Apple seem to call them these days should be consistent, not involve any unusual keys on the keyboard and rare. None of this is true for the Mac nowadays.

There is a tendency to put keyboard equivalences to even the most rarely used menu items, such as 'Preferences…'. Many keyboard equivalences found in new applications don't stick to the keys available on any keyboard. Finally, things are not consistent at all.

I'm tired of giving worked examples for this – basically I'm not paid enough to do that. But to prove the point just open Safari and check how many violations of the HIG regarding keyboard equivalences you'll find. If you're not satisfied by that, switch your preferred language to German first and see how things do there.

What confuses me most about that is that OS X.3 officially supports tinkering with keyboard equivalences. Thus, my assumption was that there'd be fewer equivalences by default and if people really think the need extra ones they can add them. Most people won't and they'll be less confused by all those funny letters in the menus.

Finally a few links on the topic: Bruce Tognazzini against keyboard equivalents and The Guardian advertising them as the next big time saver linking to an old text by Jaf Raskin Down with GUIs. And the stuff he does currently (careful – scary Borg photo on that page!).

November 1, 2003, 2:33

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