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Monday, May 16, 2016


The Gripping Hand
Because scroll bars don't make good pictures
It used to be, back in the good old days, that a web page that was bigger than the screen had scroll bars in the margins. If the page was taller than the screen, the scroll bar was in the right hand margin. If the page was wider than the screen, then there would be scroll bar was along the bottom of the screen. Okay, technically the scroll bars were in the margins of the 'window', not the screen, but I usually have the web browser maximized so it fills the whole screen, so 'screen' and ''window' in this case refer to the same thing.
    It's not often that you find a web page that is wider than the screen. It's usually due to a bad layout / design. Sometimes it's an inadvertent programming error and once in a while you find an 'art' site that is trying to be different. There is seldom a good reason for it.
    In any case, back in the good old days, there were a few simple methods for moving around on the web page. You could

  • use the Page Up and Page Down keys, 
  • drag the scroll bar up or down in its slot along the margin, 
  • you could click in the margin where the scroll bar wasn't and the page would move up or down one screen, depending on whether you clicked above or below the scroll bar.
Then someone came up with the grabbing hand, that allowed you to drag whatever you were looking at any which way. Google Maps uses this and I have seen it in other places as well. The key indicator here, besides the little white glove icon, is that there are no scroll bars.

But now we've got some other kind of automatic crap that links the scroll bar to the mouse even when you haven't clicked on it. I'm looking at a page and I move the mouse to do something and the page starts sliding up and down. You can turn it off by clicking on the scroll bar, but by that time whatever you were looking at has vanished from the screen and now you have to figure out where you were and try and get back to it without turning on this automatic spawn-from-hell scrolling function.

There probably is some setting somewhere that will disable it, but I would have to look it up, and it probably wouldn't stick anyway. There's a setting in my browser (Chrome this week, but I'm sure Firefox has one as well) that determines how the browser behaves when it starts. Does it pick up where you left off, or does it start with the home page? It doesn't matter what it is set to, it always picks up where it left off, even when I deliberately close all the tabs, close the browser and shutdown the computer. When I turn the computer on and start the browser, it reloads all those tabs I just closed, all the tabs I just closed because they were hosing up my computer and I didn't want them open!

I have a few choice words for those who are responsible for these defects, but I'll restrain myself. It won't help. They seem to be more interested in developing fancy new features. That's all very well and they may be very entertaining for some people, but I would like to see more absolute control.

P.S. Some people may want to quibble over my use of the term 'scroll bars'. They might prefer the term 'slider' and want to use 'scroll bar' to refer to the slider and the slot it slides in. Quibble away, I know what I'm talking about.

P.P.S. Google Maps uses a cross with arrowheads on each tip to slide the map around, not a white glove, and it doesn't show up until you press down on the mouse button AND start sliding the mouse. Not sure where I've seen the white glove icon. A PDF viewer, maybe.

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