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Drag and Drop Modules
[caption id="attachment_259" align="alignnone" width="412" caption="The Drag and Drop Pattern"]Click to view an animation of the Drag and Drop Pattern[/caption]

Netvibes, iGoogle, My Yahoo, etc. They all have something in common. These applications, among tons of others, rely on a new(ish) interaction paradigm: Drag and Drop Modules. With the advent of faster and more powerful Javascript interpreters included in browsers, developers can now safely leverage the programming language's power in order to build rich Web Applications without the need for Flash.

This interaction paradigm has become relatively well-known since several high-profile players adopted it, and is of particular interest when you wish to provide your users with either a highly customizable portal page or the possibility to significantly rearrange page layout. This is a typical use-case of the SAPO Campus PLE, hence the choice to use this paradigm.



Drag and drop interactions are typically very complex, mainly due to the wide array of event states (or interesting moments) that can be used in a drag and drop operation. According to Yahoo's Design Pattern Library page on the subject, these are the most pertinent interesting moments for Drag and Drop Modules:

On a page with content modules, the following user interface elements (actors) may participate during each interesting moment:

The following grid describes the interactions that may occur in a drag and drop operation and how they should be handled:

[caption id="attachment_256" align="alignnone" width="290" caption="Drag and Drop Interaction Grid"]Yahoo's Drag and Drop Interaction Grid[/caption]

You can read the rest of Yahoo's Design Pattern Library Drag and Drop Modules Page to find out more about how to provide an adequate drag and drop experience, as well as Accessibility and Usability concerns.

We at SAPO Campus are working hard to ensure the drag and drop module is correctly implemented, so as to keep consistence across other Web Applications of the same kind which our prospective users may already be using. If the platform conforms to user expectations and as such lowers the entry point, not only do users get less frustrated but they will actually enjoy using the platform more and become more productive.

The challenge is to offer sufficient differentiation and added value that makes users want to switch platforms. Currently, our strategy is to provide users with a wealth of institution-specific functionality, which, tied together with general purpose widgets you can find on any other platform, should provide tight integration between the user's academic and extra-academic spaces.

Do you think a strong integration between generic and academic content might be reason enough to switch, even if the platform (at first) cannot compete on a feature-by-feature basis with other long-established players in the market? Do users want this kind of integration?
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Published by bruno-abrantes às 16:45

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