GNOME Bugzilla – Bug 470513
Select files with lasso
Last modified: 2011-05-04 12:17:00 UTC
It should be possible to select files by drawing a lasso around them, instead of holding down Ctrl while drawing a bunch of rectangles. Often you want to select a block of icons, but not a few in either corner. So this requires you to drag 3 or 4 rectangles when it would be easier to just outline the ones you want. Also would be easier to grasp for the less technically-inclined.
I'll make a mock-up image if this isn't marked as a duplicate.
Created attachment 94392 [details]
Normal rectangular selection of a non-rectangular group
Created attachment 94393 [details]
Lasso selection of a non-rectangular group
I went ahead and made an image. :-)
The line that you draw should be simplified as you draw it, on the order of the size of the icons, so as not to be all messy, and it should be possible to "backtrack". If you draw backwards within a certain width of the line you already drew, it will erase it, so as to de-select something you accidentally went around.
Here's a partly-working mock-up:
Since you only have to surround the center point of an icon, I think this actually makes most selections faster than using rectangles. You can even select disjoint sets without ever pressing Ctrl, which makes it more usable to people who don't grasp the concept.
Is the selection code in Nautilus itself, or is it part of GTK or something?
Thanks for the bug report and mockups. It's nice to get feature requests like this. I'm still not sure what the problem is that you are trying to solve here, however. What kinds of operations would the lasoo allow that the current file selection functionality does not?
As described above, this would make selecting objects easier, quicker, and more intuitive. It would allow you to select a group of files with one hand, without using the Ctrl button, which most users are not aware of.
I think we need to break this down a bit.
Currently, you can select groups of icons by selecting white space and dragging a rectangle over them. This has a number of advantages over the approach you are advocating here, IMO:
* The distance traveled by the pointer is shorter than with a lasoo - it is therefore faster.
* It requires less precise pointer control than a lasoo, since a user doesn't have to round corners and rejoin the line that they are drawing. This is particularly advantageous for people using track pads or who have impaired motor control.
Am I wrong on any of these points? Is there anything that I'm missing?
Hm. Could this discussion take place on nautilus-devel or smth? I'm marking as WONTFIX, given that I read Allans comments right. Please reopen if you think this is inappropriate.
Most selections are not rectangular, so it's faster to draw a single lasso around the things you want, rather than making multiple rectangular selections while holding down Ctrl, using two hands.
I don't think there's any difference in the precision required. If the lasso goes around the center point of the icon, it's selected, just like with a rectangular selection.
You don't need to rejoin the line. There's a straight line going back to the start point at all times, just like the lasso selection in a graphics editor that many people are familiar with.
Although I think lasso selection will be faster in the general case, saving fractions of seconds isn't the primary concern. The point is to make selection more intuitive and natural. I suspect the average computer user isn't even aware of their ability to use Ctrl.
Hm. Allan, could you handle the last comment please and reopen if it changes your mind. TIA!
(In reply to comment #9)
> Most selections are not rectangular, so it's faster to draw a single lasso
> around the things you want, rather than making multiple rectangular selections
> while holding down Ctrl, using two hands.
> I don't think there's any difference in the precision required. If the lasso
> goes around the center point of the icon, it's selected, just like with a
> rectangular selection.
You'd still have to 'turn' around corners though, wouldn't you?
> You don't need to rejoin the line. There's a straight line going back to the
> start point at all times, just like the lasso selection in a graphics editor
> that many people are familiar with.
More people are familiar with the rectangular selection from file managers than lassos from graphics apps.
> Although I think lasso selection will be faster in the general case, saving
> fractions of seconds isn't the primary concern. The point is to make selection
> more intuitive and natural. I suspect the average computer user isn't even
> aware of their ability to use Ctrl.
There seems to be two parts to your proposal:
1. Lasso-based selection
2. Different selection behaviour - creating a new selection adds to the existing selection rather than creating a whole new one
I'm still dubious about 1. 2 seems like an interesting idea, but we'd have to come up with an intuitive way to select none.
Again, let me know if I've got this wrong.
I'm copying in Calum Benson to get a second opinion on this.
(In reply to comment #11)
> You'd still have to 'turn' around corners though, wouldn't you?
If you wanted to select a rectangular group of objects without using the normal rectangular selection, you'd move the mouse in an arc instead of a diagonal line. Is that what you mean?
> 2. Different selection behaviour - creating a new selection adds to the
> existing selection rather than creating a whole new one
I'm not sure what this means. Creating a new selection?
Have you looked at the links I've provided?
I think cumulative and lasso selections are both interesting (and actually somewhat separate) ideas, especially for touch screen environments, but they'd certainly need some user testing.
I guess there would be a few different options to try out:
* Non-cumulative lasso selection with 'add' modifier (essentially just replacing the current rectangular selection with a lasso): Click or lasso items to make a new selection consisting of the items clicked or lassoed. Ctrl+Click or Ctrl+lasso items to add them to the current selection. Shift-click an item to extend the selection to the clicked item.
* Cumulative lasso selection with 'remove' modifier: Click or lasso items to add them to the current selection. Shift+Click or Shift+lasso items to remove them from the current selection.
* Cumulative lasso selection with no modifiers: Click or lasso unselected items to add them to the current selection, and click or lasso selected items to remove them. (In theory, I guess this would be the best option for touch screens.)
As Allan says, the big question would be whether the extra drawing precision required would make any of these options more useful than rectangular selection in the general case. Might be one of those situations where (say) a rectangular/lasso toggle would be required on the toolbar, and providing that sort of switch is something we don't normally like to do without a very good reason...
As for "selecting none", that would presumably still be possible the same way as it is now -- by clicking white space or using the Edit>Select All then Edit>Invert Selection menu options (admittedly a Select None menu option might be nice).