Wandering Thoughts archives


I don't like smooth scrolling

Courtesy of upgrading my home machine to Fedora 8 and getting a new version of liferea in the bargain, I have been reminded of something: I really don't like applications that do smooth scrolling.

While I could pick specific nits, I suspect that a good part of this comes down to metaphor choices; I tend to think of scrolling as a 'turn the page' action, for which the closest computer equivalent is just immediately replacing the text with no fancy effects (although I want a line or two of context, which you can't get with physical objects). People with different metaphors probably would find the page turning approach irritating and a good way to lose their context.

(And it's true that my way has a big jump between scrolling a bit, with cursor keys or a scroll wheel or gestures, and scrolling a lot with page down/page up keys.)

Unfortunately, since smooth scrolling by default is so prevalent, I suspect that there are solid human factors reasons for it and thus that I am going to keep running into this. However, I really wish programmers would at least expose an explicit option for this in their programs; not all of us want the slow flickering visual distraction.

Sidebar: my nits with smooth scrolling

There's a number of specific things that bug me about smooth scrolling:

  • it at least feels slower (I don't know if it is), and I resent waiting just because the computer wants to show me that it's clever.
  • it's visually distracting.
  • it unpleasantly reminds me of CRT and LCD screen flickering.
  • often, it effectively forces me to defocus my eyes briefly because otherwise I automatically try to read the scrolling text. (This depends on the scroll speed.)

All in all it makes me feel that I'm being forced to wait for a visually distracting effect just so the system can show me that it's clever.

programming/SmoothScrollDislike written at 23:50:52; Add Comment

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