Chapter 5. Working with User Input

No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness.


Although I am the kind of guy that would write a book about broad compatibility and serving the broadest possible user base, I’m not usually the kind of user who unwittingly uncovers problems with developers applying hard-and-fast rules to a problem that requires a more nuanced approach. I’ve always got good hardware, and I run popular, up-to-date browsers. I should get the best experience possible whenever I get on the Web, and all but the most myopic developers are going to serve me something that will work.

This was generally the case until I got a touchscreen laptop. Once I brought home a Windows 8 laptop, things started to get a little weird. Pretty much every day I run into a site that has guessed wrong about my setup in one way or another. This ranges from the catastrophic to the minor, but there’s always something. Watch me at a coffee shop and just wait for me to click something a couple of times with a mouse or touchpad, see nothing happen, smirk, and then touch the same element with a finger in order to activate it. This simple error, only listening for touch events, is very common and speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of user input on the Web.

Hopefully, this chapter will make life better for me and everyone else out there with multiple input modes.

Not that the case of multiple input modes on the same device is the only issue on the Web today ...

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