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Visible feedback for mousedown

For people learning or relearning to use a mouse
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Background - I was having problems with my right hand, so I tried using my left hand on my track-pad. It was difficult at first, like learning to use the track-pad all over again. I lost track of whether the mouse button was up or down. It made click-and-drag very difficult.

Problem - The Windows GUI doesn't give consistent feedback about the state of the mouse buttons. If you click on a scrollbar, a window title bar, or the window margin (to resize the window), there is no visible feedback that the mouse is down. If you click in a text box, there is no feedback that the mouse is down until you start to drag to select text. If you click on an inactive area, same thing. The audible feedback of the mouse click is very brief, and it doesn't tell you which button was clicked or if the mouse button went up or down.

Solution - Give visual feed back for the state of the mouse buttons. When the left mouse button is down, the left side of the mouse cursor should become thick, with an extra outline around it. This would occur whether the cursor is over an active area or not. The cursor should stay thickened for as long as the mouse is down. [Ian_Tindale's] idea of playing a certain sound whenever the mouse is down helps pull together all the disparate visual signifiers of a mousedrag.

This would be useful when trying to click an "OK" button, but even more useful when trying to click and drag. Currently in Windows, if the user accidentally lets the mouse up while dragging, the feedback can be ambiguous. For example, if you are dragging a toolbar, and it stops moving, you may have let the mouse button slip, or you may have come to the boundary of where that toolbar can go.

Sometimes I lost track of which mouse button was clicked. So this system should include visual feedback about which mouse button is down. When the right mouse button is down, the right side of the mouse cursor should get thick with an extra outline around it.

I think this would help old people who are learning a GUI for the first time. It would also help handicapped people. It could be an option in Windows under "Accessibility Options."

robinism, Feb 25 2005

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       Although I rather like this, you say:
//If the user accidentally lets the mouse up while dragging, the user will get visual feedback that they have let the button slip.//
Surely the fact that the icon has stopped moving would be adequate visual feedback, no?
angel, Feb 25 2005
  

       //You're already getting visual feedback by looking where the mouse pointer is and what it's actuating//   

       Unfortunately, there are lots of active areas of the screen that don't give visual feedback to a mousedown. They don't change appearance until you start to drag. (I added examples to the idea description). Beginners need feedback for the mousedown.   

       I like your idea of audio feedback. Maybe a little song, like a cell ringtone, that plays continuously while the mouse is down? And a different melody for the right mouse button.
robinism, Feb 25 2005
  

       //Surely the fact that the icon has stopped moving would be adequate visual feedback//   

       Could be, but it can mean different things when an object stops moving. It may have come to the end of its range.
robinism, Feb 25 2005
  

       I'm no programmer, but this sounds like the kind of thing that could be done really easily by a third party. Is it?
nineteenthly, Feb 25 2005
  

       For learning, perhaps leaving the mouse over any part of the screen would trigger an audible instruction:
"Left button - expand selection" etc.
Audible instructions toggled by left and right buttons pressed together?
Ling, Feb 25 2005
  

       //could be done really easily by a third party//   

       A third party programmer who wants to make this happen within Windows Explorer will have more to do than a third party programmer who wants this to happen within his own program only.
robinism, Feb 25 2005
  

       Right, i'm sorry, i know very little about these things. What about two green dots in the system tray with the left and/or right one going red when a mouse button is clicked? Would that be more feasible?
nineteenthly, Feb 25 2005
  

       I read this thinking "Hmmm, not sure that I'd want that all the time, but it would be a really good addition to the Accessibility Options". [+]
wagster, Feb 25 2005
  

       //What about two green dots in the system tray with the left and/or right one going red when a mouse button is clicked? Would that be more feasible?//   

       I think so. Not as useful to the novice mouser though. Maybe a good compromise between ease of programming (does that even matter on the HB?) and usefulness is the audio version of [Ian_Tindale's]. Play a slide whistle down for mousedown, and a low whistle constantly when the mouse button is down, and a slide whistle up when the mouse button lifts up. A third party program could intercept all mouse events, determine the state of the mouse button and play sounds accordingly, then pass on the events unchanged.
robinism, Feb 25 2005
  

       I used to use a PC that had a (to me) really weird bug. It started to make a noise whenever the mouse moved but stopped when it was clicked. If this could be reversed and included as a feature, you'd be almost there. However, it wouldn't work if you were deaf, so i think there should still be some visual feedback.
nineteenthly, Feb 25 2005
  
      
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