[wp-hackers] Usability problems with accesskeys

Roy Schestowitz r at schestowitz.com
Thu Nov 10 13:34:02 GMT 2005

_____/ On Thu 10 Nov 2005 12:33:38 GMT, [David House] wrote : \_____

> I think we should revert 3020 (inclusion of accesskeys in tinymce).
> Access keys are a great idea but have flawed implementations in all
> browsers, which make using pages with them impossibly annoying. A
> quick example: when I now go onto my Write Post screen and hit Alt-D
> to select the URL bar (perhaps to navigate to another page), all I get
> is the strikethrough button lighting up.
> I won't talk much about this as there has been extensive discussion in
> the past. See the following articles:
> Mezzoblue: "I don't use accesskeys":
> http://mezzoblue.com/archives/2003/12/29/i_do_not_use/
> WATS: "Using Accesskeys: Is it worth it?":
> http://www.wats.ca/articles/accesskeys/19
> WATS: "More reasons why we don't use accesskeys":
> http://www.wats.ca/articles/accesskeyconflicts/37

Giving up accesskeys *altogether* would probably be a poor move. They make
Web interfaces as productive as native desktop software. It is possible to
select  accesskeys that prevent a large number of key collisions/conflicts
(or mouse gestures collision as I recently experienced).

In  the case of Web browsers, the numbers (digits) appear to be valueable,
especially if you align the corresponding buttons horizontally. The choice
of  alt+D was probably not a wise one, particularly because it is accommo-
dated  by  a very fundamental function in a ubiquitous browser. You  could
never  avoid  all conflicts because there are global shortcuts  too  (e.g.
XMMS,  AmaroK). The best you can ever do is try a variety of browsers  and
check  the  default  key mappings. Imagine yourself  assigning  CTRL+W  to
tinymce,  which  is by convention "close tab" and may have someone kill  a
textarea  in the midst of writing an item. It is tempting to choose short-
cuts  that make good mnemonics of the word they correspond to, but  colli-
sions  should be the prime consideration, as well as the distance  between
keys. ALT1..7 appear to be 'safe'.

'nuff  sed'  as  I imagine that similar opinions have been voiced  in  the



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