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MAG/NET Copy-Drag

MAG/NET copy drag is one of the worst elements of the Microsoft MAG/NET interface. This element has a behavior that is extremely counter-intuitive and results in annoying copying of things you don't want copied.

  1. Select drawing object #1
  2. Hold down on the ctrl key then click and drag object #2
The result is that the MAG/NET interface selects object #2, leaving object #1 selected, and then copies both. This is counter-intuitive because, in every other respect for selection, only a simple shift-click or ctrl-click allows you to select multiple objects. Normally: if I've selected object #1 and I click object #2 (without shift or ctrl), object #1 is deselected and #2 is selected. If I have selected #1 and click anywhere there is no other object, #1 is deselected—whether I have shift or ctrl selected or not. (This last is an annoying behavior in itself, because it means that if I am selecting multiple objects and I miss one, all are deselected and I have to start over.)

Yet if I have #1 selected and ctrl-click-drag #2, why does it add #2 to the selection and then copy both?  Why not de-select #1, select #2 and copy it?

See, if I selected both objects, then ctrl-click-drag, then I would expect it to copy both. But I didn't do that. I ctrl-click-dragged #2, which was not selected, which would seem to indicate that I want to copy it and no longer care about copying #1. The behavior forces me to make an extra click to not copy #1: I have to click #2 to select it and deselect #1, before doing my ctrl-click-drag.

(Even better, if I do the extra click to select #2 and deselect #1, and then ctrl-click to drag, odds are  the MAG/NET interface will decide I meant to double-click #2–see Double-Click Consumes All–and will open the text box for editing.)

So why does it do this?  Well, you can also select multiple objects by doing ctrl-click; in this respect, it behaves the same as shift-click. That's fine, but then they leave off the step of interpreting the difference between simple click, and click-drag.  (There are other cases where they treat ctrl-drag or shift-drag different from simple click, but not here, because here it would make sense to distinguish.)

In summary:
  • This makes sense: Shift-click or ctrl-click all the objects you want to copy, then ctrl-drag one of them.
  • This doesn't make sense: Select a bunch of objects, then ctrl-drag one you didn't select to simultaneously select it and then copy all of them.
So there you go. My first entry in the compendium.