How many times have you tried to drag an object on your computer, only to have it move a lot slower than you thought it should? It’s not your fault. Because of how we use our computers, we form an idea of how things should move based on how they move when we’re not dragging them. You might think that making something draggable would be as simple as changing its speed when it’s extracted, but there are many more variables involved than just that.
This article will delve into some of those variables and show you how to make your application or game respond well to dragging behavior.
How does dragging work?
First, let’s take a look at how dragging works. When you start to drag something on your screen, your mouse cursor changes from an arrow to a hand, as shown in the image below.
As you move the mouse, the cursor moves with it. If you keep the mouse button pressed down, the object will continue with the cursor until you release the button. This type of interaction is called “dragging.”
Now that we know how dragging works, let’s look at some of the variables involved. The most crucial variable is how fast the object moves when not dragging it. This is called the “inertia” of the object. Inertia is determined by two factors: the mass of the object and the friction between the object and the surface it’s resting on.
The more mass an object has, the more inertia it has. This means that it will be harder to move an object with many groups. The more friction an object has, the harder it is to move. This is because friction creates resistance against motion. It can take more energy to overcome a large amount of friction.
Why learn how to drag click?
Drag clicking might not be for everyone, but it can come in handy in certain situations. It’s also an excellent alternative to autoscrolling if that doesn’t work for you or you don’t want to use it. Give drag clicking a try and see how it affects your workflow - you might be surprised at how much easier it makes some tasks!
Drag clicking and its benefits
Now that we know how inertia and friction work, we can think about ways to use them in our applications. One way to use inertia is in drag clicking. Drag clicking is the act of clicking and holding down the mouse button while you’re dragging an object. This allows you to move the thing around without keeping the mouse button pressed down.
There are a few benefits to using drag clicking:
- Reducing hand strain is, of course, the most crucial benefit of using drag clicking. This is especially true when you’ve got a lot of things on your screen that you want to navigate between (such as folders in file explorer). If you’re constantly moving your mouse around with the button pressed down, your hand will get tired much more quickly than if it’s just resting on your mouse pad or desk while dragging takes place. Try it out for yourself; having to press and hold the mouse button for a few seconds can take its toll on you after a while! Using this technique also allows those with some disabilities that don’t allow them to use a mouse button easy to use drag functionality still.
- Quickly reposition objects - This is especially true in games. When you’ve got enemies all around you, and you need to get your sword out to defend yourself quickly, the last thing you want is for the blade to keep moving slowly across the screen while you’re trying to fight. With drag clicking, you can move the sword where you want it without worrying about the cursor moving with it. This can also be helpful when arranging elements on a screen or in a document.
- Faster object navigation - Finally, drag clicking allows for faster object navigation. This is because you no longer have to keep the mouse button pressed down to move the object. You can drag it to where you want it and release the button. This can save time when moving between objects or scrolling through a document.
Drag clicking and its downsides
However, drag clicking also has a few downsides:
- Slower object selection - If you’ve ever tried to select an individual pixel on your screen using the mouse cursor, you probably know how frustrating it can be (#PixelHunt anyone?). This is due to the high resolution of today’s screens and the small pixels. Because of this, selecting anything with your mouse becomes much easier if you click rather than dragging your cursor around for a bit. The same concept applies when moving objects around as well; dragging them makes it harder to pick out exactly where you want them because they’re constantly moving instead of staying in one place as soon as you take your finger off the mouse button.
- Faster cursor movement - Drag clicking also makes it easier for the mouse cursor to move around. While this might not seem like a big deal, it can be kind of annoying if you’re trying to grab something that’s “at your level” on your screen (such as an icon close to the bottom). Ideally, you’d want the object alignment algorithm to be able to align it with other objects without having to do an awkward horizontal scroll first.
- Reduced cursor precision - As I mentioned above, dragging your mouse pointer means it’ll move more easily and quickly, making it harder for you to precisely click on small objects or navigate between them accurately. This is especially true if you’ve got a high-resolution screen.
- All applications do not support draggable objects - While drag clicking can be done almost anywhere, it’s not officially supported by Microsoft, so that it will vary from application to application. For example, if you try to press and hold the scroll wheel button while you’re trying to scroll in Google Chrome, nothing will happen until you rerelease the button instead of scrolling smoothly for a bit. Drag clicking also doesn’t work when dragging certain other items such as images within web browsers (though this isn’t necessarily true for every browser). Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about these limitations; our hands are tied on this one!
- Using drag clicking with older mice is problematic - This goes hand in hand with the previous point. To drag click an object, you need a mouse that can do it. Some older mice cannot drag click at all or only allow for limited functionality due to design limitations, so they won’t work correctly when trying to use drag clicking. This is another reason I recommend using this technique in conjunction with auto-scroll rather than its own. Most people will have a mouse that supports autoscrolling even if it doesn’t support dragging and clicking.
As you can see, there are both upsides and downsides to using drag clicking. While it might not be for everyone, I think the functionality is worth having and will be helpful to many people regardless. The biggest downside is that all applications do not support it, so you’ll have to check whether or not an application supports this feature before deciding if you want to use it or not. I recommend trying it in conjunction with autoscrolling (supported by all applications) to get the best of both worlds.
What do you think? Do you like the idea of having drag-clicking functionality or not? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below! If this article helped, feel free to share it with your friends by using one of the buttons below :) Have a great day!