Undo selection convention

20 Feb 2004 - 1:37pm
10 years ago
14 replies
560 reads
sandeepblues
2003

Users are often frustrated with situations where they
have selected numerous objects using Shift+click or
Ctrl+click, and they accidentally click somewhere,
which results in deselecting everything.

Now, the user would like to Undo that. I don't think
that it is conventional to use Undo for selection
since nothing changed by selection.

What UI should I provide to allow the user to return
to the previous state of selection?

Sandeep

Comments

20 Feb 2004 - 3:48pm
sandeepblues
2003

Thanks for the detailed response. I should have been
clearer about the context.

These objects are zones on a drawing, desktop
application...objects over a geographical map. A
click on the background, is a common way to deselect
objects, and that shouldn't be tampered with in this
case. The users will be expert users.

It is totally unconventional to use "Undo" for
selection of objects. Consider one object moved, and
then another object moved. Now, the user wants to undo
the 2 moves. The user will have to press Undo 4 times:
2 for moves and 2 for selects. Are there
optimizations that might work?

In the current context, there are thousands of zones
on a map, and the user might have carefully selected
them to change their properties. So, it is a huge
pain to reselect them.

Sandeep

20 Feb 2004 - 4:24pm
cfmdesigns
2004

Sandeep Jain <sandeepblues at yahoo.com> writes:

>It is totally unconventional to use "Undo" for
>selection of objects. Consider one object moved, and
>then another object moved. Now, the user wants to undo
>the 2 moves. The user will have to press Undo 4 times:
>2 for moves and 2 for selects. Are there
>optimizations that might work?

Photoshop tracks each (marquee) selection individually, listing them
in the history palette. So you can (a) undo selections and (b) undo
a sequence of actions with a single click. I don't know what other
apps might deal with undoing selections that way.

Jim

20 Feb 2004 - 2:34pm
Ellen Beldner
2004

Is this on the web or in a desktop application?

A better UI in the first place would be to not deselect everything
based on that stray click. This is more akin to a checkbox-style
multiselect where everything stays selected unless you deliberately
deselect. (Although I have a small beef with checkboxes themselves,
since they are such terribly small targets to click on.... I have used
web applications that allow you to select a checkbox, and then
shift-click on another checkbox down the list, selecting everything in
between. To deselect, you repeat the shift-click on the first item.)

That said, my next guess would be to use standard "Undo" commands,
like control-z. Shift-select and CTRL-select are expert operators
anyway -- seems reasonably likely that someone knowing how to
shift-select would know that desktop applications have "undo". It's
doubtful that they might guess "undo" applies to Selection.

Otherwise, I might try a couple of simple links under a header like
"Select" with options like "all" "modified today" (or whatever makes
sense for your application & the tasks that people are trying to do)
and then "undo" -- so it's more clear that you can undo a select /
deselect operator.

Plus, although it's annoying to have to reselect, this is probably not
a Big Catastrophic Problem -- adding a complex UI to undo it is
probably more interface clutter than it's worth.

-- Ellen

On Fri Feb 20 11:37:50 PST 2004, Sandeep Jain <sandeepblues at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Users are often frustrated with situations where they
> have selected numerous objects using Shift+click or
> Ctrl+click, and they accidentally click somewhere,
> which results in deselecting everything.
>
> Now, the user would like to Undo that. I don't think
> that it is conventional to use Undo for selection
> since nothing changed by selection.
>
> What UI should I provide to allow the user to return
> to the previous state of selection?
>
> Sandeep
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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>
>

20 Feb 2004 - 2:47pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Feb 20, 2004, at 11:37 AM, Sandeep Jain wrote:

> Users are often frustrated with situations where they
> have selected numerous objects using Shift+click or
> Ctrl+click, and they accidentally click somewhere,
> which results in deselecting everything.
>
> Now, the user would like to Undo that. I don't think
> that it is conventional to use Undo for selection
> since nothing changed by selection.
>
> What UI should I provide to allow the user to return
> to the previous state of selection?

I haven't seen any studies on Adobe's History palette, which covers the
kinds of actions you're talking about. I find myself using it fairly
often in Photoshop.

Chris

22 Feb 2004 - 8:59pm
Nathan Vincent
2004

I think Macromedia nailed it with Flash (which is essentially the same
as Photoshop's implementation, except that selection of multiple shapes
is a more frequent occurrence in Flash); each modification in selection
is an event which is undo/redoable, and get's added to the doc's history
palette.

- Nathan

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Drew [mailto:jdrew at adobe.com]
Sent: Saturday, 21 February 2004 9:25 AM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Undo selection convention

Sandeep Jain <sandeepblues at yahoo.com> writes:

>It is totally unconventional to use "Undo" for
>selection of objects. Consider one object moved, and
>then another object moved. Now, the user wants to undo
>the 2 moves. The user will have to press Undo 4 times:
>2 for moves and 2 for selects. Are there
>optimizations that might work?

Photoshop tracks each (marquee) selection individually, listing them
in the history palette. So you can (a) undo selections and (b) undo
a sequence of actions with a single click. I don't know what other
apps might deal with undoing selections that way.

Jim
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23 Feb 2004 - 5:50pm
Anirudha Joshi
2003

The selection requirements in your application seem more complex and
frequent than usual.

Drawing an inspiration from layers (not the Photoshop kinds, but say
Corel or Illustrator kinds, where one layer can have multiple objects),
you could put together 'collections' of items. It could be layers
itself, but one can't have an object to be on multiple layers at the
same time.

In a map, let's say I need to change the blue I am using to show all
rivers. So I need to select rivers. I could have a collection of rivers
I could use for this purpose.

In another case, in the same map, I need to enhance hue (or
transparency) of all items in one square area (to highlight it for an
info-graphic). Now, I need to select all items in one area - rivers,
roads, hills all of it irrespective of what collection it belongs to.

So if selection is important, but hard in your application, you could
have a selection management system in your interface. Of course you need
to consider the learnability issues.

Anirudha

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com] On Behalf Of Sandeep Jain
Sent: Friday, February 20, 2004 11:38 AM
To: id-discuss
Subject: [ID Discuss] Undo selection convention

Users are often frustrated with situations where they
have selected numerous objects using Shift+click or
Ctrl+click, and they accidentally click somewhere,
which results in deselecting everything.

Now, the user would like to Undo that. I don't think
that it is conventional to use Undo for selection
since nothing changed by selection.

What UI should I provide to allow the user to return
to the previous state of selection?

Sandeep
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23 Feb 2004 - 6:47am
Marcin Wichary
2004

: Photoshop tracks each (marquee) selection individually, listing them
: in the history palette. So you can (a) undo selections and (b) undo
: a sequence of actions with a single click. I don't know what other
: apps might deal with undoing selections that way.

Photoshop also supports a "Reselect" option in its "Select" menu,
which is pretty self-explanatory -- and can also be undone!

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring

23 Feb 2004 - 7:19am
Marcin Wichary
2004

: (Although I have a small beef with checkboxes themselves,
: since they are such terribly small targets to click on....)

And after years of getting used to the fact that you can also
click on a label next to the checkbox (that's how it works
in most GUIs), the general public now gradually unlearns it,
because of the websites! In most of them you can only click
on checkbox itself, 'cause many webmasters don't know about
the <LABEL> tag...

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring

23 Feb 2004 - 10:37am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Feb 20, 2004, at 12:34 PM, Ellen Beldner wrote:

> A better UI in the first place would be to not deselect everything
> based on that stray click. This is more akin to a checkbox-style
> multiselect where everything stays selected unless you deliberately
> deselect.

This sounds entirely impractical. I can't imagine this feeling or
working correct at all in a drawing or object based application.

> (Although I have a small beef with checkboxes themselves,
> since they are such terribly small targets to click on.... I have used
> web applications that allow you to select a checkbox, and then
> shift-click on another checkbox down the list, selecting everything in
> between. To deselect, you repeat the shift-click on the first item.)

I have always disliked the checkbox selection model of most web apps.
It's entirely a kludge for lack of any real interaction model in the
web beyond hyperlinks.

> That said, my next guess would be to use standard "Undo" commands,
> like control-z. Shift-select and CTRL-select are expert operators
> anyway -- seems reasonably likely that someone knowing how to
> shift-select would know that desktop applications have "undo". It's
> doubtful that they might guess "undo" applies to Selection.

As long as an application supports multiple undo, this is not entirely
unreasonable. Photoshop has allowed it since day one. Illustrator and
InDesign do not, and while it happens occasionally, it doesn't happen
often enough or cause much concern as to change. Although I will
certainly mention the behavior to the teams.

> Plus, although it's annoying to have to reselect, this is probably not
> a Big Catastrophic Problem -- adding a complex UI to undo it is
> probably more interface clutter than it's worth.

Exactly. Like I said, as long as an app supports multiple undo, then
that should be plenty of UI to add, which is basically nothing but a
behavior.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

23 Feb 2004 - 10:39am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Feb 23, 2004, at 3:50 PM, Anirudha Joshi wrote:

> So if selection is important, but hard in your application, you could
> have a selection management system in your interface. Of course you
> need
> to consider the learnability issues.

Illustrator has a "Select" menu with a whole slew of options for
exactly this reason.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

23 Feb 2004 - 11:54am
CD Evans
2004

Hi there,

The undo thing interests me. It's not exactly the most user friendly
thing about a computer. I think the History Palette has helped a bit,
but only insofar as it allows one to quickly understand where they are.
Just like Breadcrumbing, this technique only really assists in
orientation. While essential for information centric designs, it may be
only a convenience in function centric designs.

Now, if we were to look at something new, on the other hand, I'd be
keen to see a selection panel that ties in with history and allows for
a fully object oriented undo environment, and not just a palette, or a
useless panel. An Undo Environment, as we might have it, would do best
by mimicking the best of the Omnigraffle Selection & Style palette, The
Flash Library and the FormZ Object List (or whatever it's called).
Getting details, history and usage all in one handy palette.

Something where a even a full time line of events is recorded per
object would sustain applause from the design communities for at least
long enough to rake in some serious cash.

Hope that helps,

CD Evans

On 23 Feb 2004, at 16:39, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On Feb 23, 2004, at 3:50 PM, Anirudha Joshi wrote:
>
>> So if selection is important, but hard in your application, you could
>> have a selection management system in your interface. Of course you
>> need
>> to consider the learnability issues.
>
> Illustrator has a "Select" menu with a whole slew of options for
> exactly this reason.
>
> Andrei Herasimchuk
> andrei at adobe.com
>
> work: http://www.adobe.com
> personal: http://www.designbyfire.com
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
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> already)
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>

26 Feb 2004 - 6:01am
Marcin Wichary
2004

: As long as an application supports multiple undo, this is not
: entirely unreasonable. Photoshop has allowed it since day one.

It's not really important, and I am not 100% sure, but I believe
Photoshop only started supporting multiple undo with version 4.0
(or 5.0?).

In any case, that what a great day when I found that out. :)
Before that, you really had to be careful and save A LOT (and
with Photoshop each save usually takes ages).

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring

26 Feb 2004 - 11:04am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Feb 26, 2004, at 4:01 AM, Marcin Wichary wrote:

> It's not really important, and I am not 100% sure, but I believe
> Photoshop only started supporting multiple undo with version 4.0
> (or 5.0?).

I meant that Photoshop has supported undo of an accidental deselect
since day one, but you are right that the history feature did not pop
up until version 5.0.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

1 Mar 2004 - 5:33pm
Ellen Beldner
2004

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