Monday, October 26, 2009

Linux desktop shift-select

I think this is a significant mis-behavior I've noticed with Ubuntu/Gnome.

Suppose that you have several files "on your desktop", and suppose that they are named "a", "b", "c", and "d".

Furthermore, suppose that you have physically dragged the icons for these files around on your desktop so that they are arranged, from top to bottom on your screen, in the order: "c", "a", "b", "d". That is, the icon for "c" is in the top left, "a" is below it, "b" below that, and "d" at the bottom.

Now, suppose that you single-click on the icon for "d", and then shift-click on the icon for "b". Shift-click is the indication for "range-selection", and it's supposed to select everything that is "in-between" the previous selection and the newly-selected item.

On Windows, what happens in this situation is that two icons are selected, those for "b" and "d". This is because Windows processes the shift-click range selection spatially, and since there are no other icons spatially between "b" and "d" on the screen, only those two icons are selected.

On Gnome, at least in my case, the icon for "c" in the top left of the screen was also selected, so the result of the shift-click on "b" is that three icons are selected: "c", "b", and "d".

I assume this is because Gnome is treating the "range-selection" behavior as meaning "all icons whose names are between the previous selection and the newly-selected item", instead of interpreting it as meaning icons whose position on the desktop is between the selections.

Did I misunderstand the behavior here?

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