Put the scroll bar out to pasture already!

Put the scroll bar out to pasture already!

Once you’ve tried finger based scrolling on smartphones and tablets, it makes you realize how antiquated the Desktop User Interface (UI) is, especially the scroll bar. A plugin called “Wet Banana” adds mouse drag tablet-like scrolling but it’s about time all desktop operating systems get a UI upgrade.


Actually, an alternative to implementation at the OS level is to implement this feature into the mouse driver!  The user can immediately use this in every application that supports the standard scroll functionality of the existing scroll wheel.  Windows Explorer, Microsoft Outlook, MS Word, or any application will work with a mouse driver.

The scroll wheel on the standard mouse already has two methods of scrolling in Windows.  One, you can roll it.  Two, you can press down and toggle the speed and direction of the page panning.  But neither mode is as intuitive as the Wet Banana plugin where a user flicks it in the desired direction with the desired speed to make it glide until friction stops it or until the user puts the brakes on.

I’ve asked Jedediah Smith and various operating system makers (or anyone) to create a custom Windows and/or Linux mouse driver?  Replace the traditional functionality of the scroll wheel with the exact same physics and behavior of Wet Banana.  The existing mouse driver already has the ability to control the scrolling, direction, and speed. It just needs a better human interface.  I hope someone will meet this need.

7 thoughts on “Put the scroll bar out to pasture already!”

  1. That doesn’t work well for desktop apps, which support functions like drag and drop. The user would need to differentiate between things that can be dragged around and things which serves as anchors to scroll the screen. The apps that *do* support a “drag the screen to scroll” (Acrobat and Photoshop come to mind) invariably find themselves having to make the user switch between a “scrolling hand” cursor and a “working cursor” for this reason. Macs have used the “hand to scroll” paradigm for a while, and I was never happy with it.

    Desktop UIs evolved the way they did for a reason, and tablet/phone UIs evolved the way they have for a reason. The reasons are totally different. Just because a UI works well with your imprecise finger on a small screen while held in your hand does not mean that it’s a good UI for a mouse with a big screen(s).


  2. While I hate to relate this to games, this does remind me of article I heard about putting console gamers head to head with PC gamers on first person shooters.

    While a Console has all sorts of advantages, the mouse and keyboard interface worked so much better for the precision required for first person shooters.

    Some UIs work better for some situations than others. While I do agree, the scroll bar is annoying. I wanted to toss mine from my Netbook when I had one.

  3. Justin, you haven’t actually tried this feature. Your criticism sounds like some Mac users I’ve known talking about two button mice being unnecessarily complex, until they actually try to use it and find out that they were too quick to judge and they actually love having the second button and the scroll wheel.

    This feature works extremely well inside the browser, and it would work extremely well with something like Outlook. The right button drag does *not* interfere with normal right button operation. That’s because you normally don’t drag with the right button inside the UI. You use the right button click to open up contextual menus, but you don’t use it to drag. This plugin only affects right-drag functionally which is currently unassigned to the mouse. Therefore, it does not interfere with existing functionality and it adds valuable functionality.

    The biggest criticism I’ve heard is that the scroll wheel already covers this functionality. But it doesn’t work nearly as well because it doesn’t offer nearly the same degree of control as flicking the page with variable speed, momentum, friction, and manual braking.

  4. The problem for me is that I already use right-click and drag for mouse gestures. I can use middle mouse button instead but it is a bi twonky on my mouse. The fancy scroll wheel on my Logitech Performance Mouse MX can be switched into a frictionless mode which is as even for vertical scrolling but doesn’t help at all with horizontal scrolling.

  5. Right drag isn’t used inside of a window thought. You use right drag if you want to copy instead of move a file on the desktop. Inside of an active window, I’ve never had to use right drag.

    As you said, pushing the middle button is a little “twonky”. So right button seems to work well for me.

  6. What a breath of fresh air!!! I couldn’t agree more and have been saying more or less the same thing for some time now. Scrolling is so antiquated. The next generation will look back at scrolling and laugh. Steve Jobs will be rolling in his grave if the future generations of web fail to capitalize on the genius technology he brought to the world, to pinch & release, pan & zoom.

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