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Limitation in Dragging Items

In order to manage my site, I've been dragging items around in the main heirarchy and I've found a really annoying limitation.  Let's say you have 3 files and 3 folders on one level of the heirarchy.

If the files are organized as

<file1>
<file2>
<file3>
<folder1>
<folder2>
<folder3>

Now, try and rearrange them into the order

<file2>
<file3>
<folder1>
<folder2>
<file1>
<folder3>

You can't because file1 will get dropped into folder 2 rather than appearing below folder 2.  Essentially, your dragging metaphor is broken because you need two separate concepts ("rearrange" and "place into") but your mechanism doesn't allow the user to specify which thing he/she wants.

Heirarchical views in most other programs don't suffer from this problem because they don't allow rearrangement. A drag can only be a "place into" operation. 

Programs solve this problem reasonably well are Internet Explorer (when you are dragging to re-arrange menu items or dragging around in the favorites window) and Metrowerks CodeWarrior (project view).  Both of them take advantage of left/right mouse movements to provide "place into" type behavior and up/down mouse movements to provide "rearrange". They also use additional user feedback with a bar and arrows to show exactly where the item will be placed

Joel Sumner
Monday, December 31, 2001

Yeah, I noticed that.

Most other tree controls don't let you rearrange, but CityDesk has a "natural" order of articles that is reflected in the treeview, so we had no choice. We'll try to find a way to use inserter bars in the future.

As a workaround you can use Ctrl+U and Ctrl+D to move things up and down.

Joel Spolsky
Tuesday, January 01, 2002

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