Common Desktop Environment: Style Guide and Certification Checklist

Drag-and-Drop User Model

Direct manipulation of objects in the computing environment helps the user feel in control of the computer, which in turn helps the user feel more comfortable about trying new operations and about computers in general. It is also a more efficient method for performing many operations.

To understand the drag-and-drop user model, you must understand the following terms:

drop zone

An area of the workspace that accepts a dropped icon. Drop zones are usually represented by the control or icon graphic, such as the Trash Can or the Print Manager control.

drag icon

The composite cursor used during the drag. See "Parts of a Drag Icon" for details.

In the Common Desktop Environment, the user can select and drag icons in File Manager, mail messages and attachments in Mailer, appointments in Calendar, and text from text editors or text fields. These items can be dropped onto any drop zone that accepts them. For example, a document icon from File Manager can be dropped onto a folder icon in File Manager, onto the Print Manager icon on the Front Panel, or on the attachment list in Mailer.

When an item is dropped, some action happens with the dropped item. For example, the document might get printed, moved, or attached. The action taken depends on the object being dragged and where it is dropped.



You should provide a drag-and-drop (DND) method for all objects represented as icons. Provide a DND method for all elements that the user can directly manipulate. 



Any basic function that your application supports through drag and drop is also supported through menus, buttons, or dialog boxes. 

Drag and drop is considered an accelerator to functionality that is accessible through other user interface controls supported within your application. There should be no basic operation that is supported solely through drag and drop.