Panther: Mouse pointer in Resize box

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
January 22nd, 2004 • 5:48 am

What’s the problem with the picture below?

Resize box with pointer at 300%

Well, to me, the tip of the mouse pointer is on the Resize box. But when I click, the click goes right through it and brings whatever is behind this window to the foreground, instead of grabbing the Resize box of the foremost window.

Clearly there’s something wrong here. Or is it all in my head?

13 Responses to “Panther: Mouse pointer in Resize box”

  1. vaag says:

    The mouse pointer is black. It’s in your head.

  2. Paul Ingraham says:

    Apparently it’s in my head, too.

    Your attention to detail at the pixel scale is almost obscene, Pierre, but I have to agree with you: seems like I miss when I should hit.

    I would have rolled my eyes and chuckled, “That darned Pierre,” but I’ve actually noticed this as a problem myself. More than once I’ve missed the Resize box and thought, “Gosh, didn’t I just have that?” Seems like there should be a pixel of room for error in favour of hitting the resize box, as opposed to a pixel of room for error in favour of missing it.

    If your intention is to click the background, it’s no big deal if you accidentally hit the Resize box. If you’re trying to resize, however, you are likely to have to go looking for your window again.

    Yes, this is picky — yet legitimate!

  3. Paul Ingraham says:

    I think he’s got you there, Vaag! :-)

    If the edge of the window can be inexact enough to allow you to drag it by grabbing the empty space left by the rounded corner, then for dang sure you ought to be able to hit the Resize box with the white tip of the mouse.

    But why hold out for such a measly improvement? We ought to be able to resize windows by grabbing on to any edge, with a pointer that changes to a resize icon.

    This is one of the few features of Windows XP that I really miss. I still can’t quite believe that I now have to aim for this miniscule Resize box just to change the size of a window. Any Switcher would agree, I expect. It totally ignore Fitt’s Law or something similar to it.

  4. Mike Lauder says:

    On a predominantly white background it is very hard to see the outline of the cursor. Does it make sense to have the active pixel of the cursor outside the visible shape?

  5. Pierre Igot says:

    Even on a pure white background, I can still see the white outline, because of the drop shadow. Here’s what the pointer looks like on a white background:

    As you can see, there is a line of grey on the left-hand side and on the right-hand side. I realize that the lines of grey stop one pixel short of the very tip of the cursor, but that’s precisely because it is a drop shadow, with an offset creating the sense of 3D. It doesn’t change anything to the fact that the white outline is treated as part of the pointer visually. The object is the pointer, including the solid black and the white outline, and it is that object that projects the shadow. The shadow is not a shadow of the black part, it’s a shadow of the black arrow plus the white outline.

    It would thus make sense to have the active pixel on the tip of the actual mouse pointer object.

  6. Pierre Igot says:

    Vaag: the pointer is not black. It’s black with a white outline and a drop shadow. There’s no rule that defines whether the white outline “belongs” to the pointing part of the pointer or not. To me, it does, because it’s a solid color. The drop shadow doesn’t, because it’s fuzzy.

    Now here’s a test for you. Look at this picture:

    Question: In this picture, does it look to you like the pointer is off the window or on the window? To me, it looks like it’s off. Yet it’s on. If I click and drag, the window moves along.

    If I blow up this picture:

    you can see that the reason why Mac OS X considers that it’s still on the window is that the black portion of the mouse pointer is still, technically speaking, right on the edge of the curve of the rounded corner. But at the normal size, it looks as if the mouse is off. Because of the white outline. I consider the white outline to be part of the pointer. That’s why I always get frustrated with the Resize box.

  7. vaag says:

    I hardly can see the upper part, and certainly not the right side of it, of the pointer corona if I position the pointer on your own blog in the off white area left of the comment box. On my PB it really depends from the angle I look at it. And if I have a look at it from a distance, say two meters, the corona dissolves and I only see a black pointer. The function of the corona is to make the actual black pointer perceptible under all background conditions. The sensitive part of the pointer is the most upper black pixel. It’s only one pixel (which makes sense). Are you seriously proposing this to be the most upper white corona pixel? And exactly which one would that be?
    If you would mentally accept that the actual pointer is black (or to be precise, the most upper black pixel) you would not experience any problem. Thus, it’s all in your head.
    You are addicted in finding at least a problem a day. A day without saying to yourself (and your readers), “That’s bad, very bad”, is a lost day. It’s all in your head.

  8. Pierre Igot says:

    If I am addicted to finding a problem a day, you are addicted to contradicting each and everyone of my reports :-).

    I realize that initially, the white outline was designed so that the pointer would be visible over very dark backgrounds. But that was a long time ago, when the pointer didn’t have a drop shadow and when the Mac display was black and white. Things have changed a lot since then. We have millions of colors, screen resolutions have increased, and the cursor has a drop shadow.

    The drop shadow effectively eliminates the disappearance of the white outline over a white background. This means that, today, regardless of the color of the background, the white outline is visible.

    Hence my conclusion that it is now visually part of the pointer, and not just a clever trick used to make sure that the cursor is visible over a black background.

    So yes, I am recommending that the active pixel be changed to the white tip of the arrow. Not that anyone is going to act on my recommendation. But it’s what I think, and I believe my reasons are valid.

    Visually, because of the drop shadow, the white outline is always visible, and that makes it part of the pointer.

  9. Mike Lauder says:

    If you don’t have Quartz Extreme there is no shadow. In this case it would be pretty useless to have the active pixel in the white outline for the reason I stated above.

  10. Pierre Igot says:

    Yes, I agree that, without the drop shadow, the situation is different. The question I have here is why people who don’t have Quartz Extreme don’t have a drop shadow. Surely even a non-Quartz Extreme machine running OS X is powerful enough to add a drop shadow to the pointer.

    But at this point in time, you’re right, the situation is different if you don’t have a drop shadow.

  11. vaag says:

    The way I see the concept of this general purpose pointer is as follows:
    1. a sensitive black pixel;
    2. this pixel is very small, so to make it noticeable some dead shaped black space is added to the underside of this pixel;
    3. the overall shape is coated with a contrasting color (=white) to make it visible on all backgrounds. The result is that the boundaries of the sensitive black pixel are visible under all conditions. The coating is part of the pointer, but it’s dead space, as is its tail, its wings, its body.
    4. drop shadow is added, really more a system property.

    I asked you which white pixel would be the sensitive one. I think it should be the one two pixels above and one pixel to the left of the upper black pixel (=my sensitive black pixel). If I look at your second pointer example above I don’t see any shadow above and hardly no shadow left of your sensitive white pixel. I would claim that under all possible circumstances the boundaries of my black sensitive pixel are less arbitrary than those of your white sensitive pixel.
    If you think that the function of step 3 above (the contrasting coating) is not necessary, because the drop shadow will do the job, then why not leave this step out and recommend a black pointer without a white outline?

    >…each and everyone of my reports

    As ever so often you are exaggerating.

    >Clearly there’s something wrong here.

    (Which is just a variation on “That’s bad, very bad”)
    Please tell me why my concept is ‘clearly wrong’. And that I’m ‘clearly wrong’ if I don’t see any outline at all, and certainly not its tip, on my AlBook screen with the pointer on an off white surface looking at it in an angle from slightly above. And that it’s not true that there are many more circumstances where I don’t see the outline and/or outline tip. And that it’s not true that the black tip is always visible.

  12. Pierre Igot says:

    The key issue here is your #4, i.e. whether the drop shadow is purely cosmetic or changes the actual nature of the pointer. In my view, the drop shadow eliminates the effect in which the white outline would disappear on a white background. Because of this, the white outline remains visible at all times and thus becomes part of the pointer itself. I didn’t say that the white outline is no longer necessary. Obviously if there was no white outline, and only a drop shadow, the cursor wouldn’t be visible on a black background. But that doesn’t mean that the white outline is not part of the object now.

    This would lead me to change the active pixel and use the very tip of the white outline (top-left of pointer) instead (on computers where there is always a drop shadow, of course).

    ou are right that there is no drop shadow above. That’s precisely because the shadow drops, which means that the source of light is coming from above and that the shadow is projected below (and on the sides), in the same way that there is no drop shadow above the title bar in Mac OS X windows. That doesn’t mean that the white outline doesn’t exist as part of the mouse pointer object.

    As for exaggerating, you are the one who started by saying that I was “addicted to finding at least a problem a day” :-). I am not “addicted”. I am just describing my computing environment as I experience it. No one is forcing you to respond to this or even read it.

  13. Paul Ingraham says:

    Vaag, I totally see your point (ha), but I have to back Pierre up again…

    Like you, Vaag, I have always thought of the top black pixel as the active pixel. But, like Pierre, I think the drop shadow changes everything.

    It’s easy to get exasperated with the question of which pixel is the right pixel, because we’re talking about, well, a pixel. Perhaps this issue is easier to understand in terms of RESULTS: although there might be unintended consequences we haven’t imagined, the results of placing the pixel at the tip of the OBJECT are certainly superior in this context. Since there is no window object at the extreme upper left corner, we’re not likely to “overshoot” it with a pointer that has an active pixel in the white tip. Meanwhile, there IS a tool in the extreme lower right, and we DO overshoot it with the existing pointer, AND the consequences are very annoying.

    (Clicking objects within the window is a less relevant concern because (a) missing them by a pixel won’t result in bringing the background forward, and (b) we are probably more likely to click a target in it’s lower right quadrant than it’s upper left quadrant anyway.)

    So, in short, it shouldn’t be any skin of anyone’s nose if the active pixel is moved into the white boundary of the shadow-casting object. There is no doubt that the drop-shadow HAS introduced some ambiguity here… and if there must be a pixel’s span of ambiguity, then let it favour the less problematic response.

    I continue to “just miss” the damned Resize box — happened to me twice yesterday! I resize my windows frequently! I don’t really care which pixel is active in the pointer… just so long as its placement tends to favour the results I want, as opposed to accidentally losing my window and making me blink stupidly at my screen wondering what the heck just happened and spending 5 seconds getting back to where I was, 35 seconds per week, half an hour per year of shuffling windows for this precise reason, aaaarg. Of course, I’ve now spent at least that long complaining about it with no hope of cure… :-)


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